Looking back, there was a point when the most consistent routine I had this year was skincare. I got so excited for those few minutes where I would wash my face, moisturize and maybe throw on a face mask for extra pampering. I took advantage of the ample time to try new products and ways to take care of my skin. I quickly realized that I was not alone in doing this, as skincare trends began to rise across multiple social media platforms. So, before we move forward from the past few months, let’s take a moment and reflect on the skincare products and practices that have risen in popularity. Maybe we will bring a few with us into 2021?
First up is the movement away from makeup wipes. Makeup wipes are incredibly convenient, but, unfortunately, they pose significant threats to both your skin and the environment. Makeup wipes are typically made from non-biodegradable materials such as polypropylene, polyester and rayon. There is a significant amount of long-lasting waste from each user as a result. However, the negative consequences of using makeup wipes go beyond environmental impact. Despite the appearance of a seemingly bare face after use, makeup wipes do not sufficiently clean your skin and contribute to clogged pores. They also strip the skin of natural oils and can speed up the aging process. Both the product itself and the way it is used, specifically the harsh rubbing, can lead to overall irritated and inflamed skin.
Makeup wipes should definitely stay in 2020, especially when such a variety of makeup removal methods exist. There is no universal alternative to makeup wipes, as everyone’s needs are different, but many people have looked to cleansing balms and micellar waters with reusable pads. While makeup wipes are still a better option than not washing your face, 2020 taught us that it might be best if we retire them from our everyday routines. We have to think about the bigger picture of our skin and our planet.
Next up, Gua sha. Gua sha tools are typically colorful, angled stones used for scraping and massaging the face and body that date back to the Stone Age. The use of upward and outward strokes are supposed to stimulate energy flow and lymphatic drainage. Proper technique from a specialist is emphasized in order to achieve results and prevent damage to the skin.
This practice was not always in beauty routines and is often misadvertised. Gua sha actually began as a treatment for pain in traditional Chinese medicine. Ping Zhang, DOM, LAC told Vogue that “Gua sha was originally used for two conditions: the abrupt, immediate, sudden collapse of the body from heatstroke and seasonal diseases, like a cold virus.”
The skincare benefits became clear with the improvement of wrinkles, puffiness, acne, scarring and the resolvement of other skincare issues when used on the face. Gua sha has continued to rise in popularity over the years and 2020 was no different. The ability to combine self-care with the potential for a spa-like experience within your own bathroom makes Gua sha a good representation of skincare this year. We will definitely take this one with us into 2021.
Lastly, acne patches! You might better recognize them as the cute, colorful stickers that hide blemishes. They are made of hydrocolloid, which absorbs excess fluid, and they are typically used for healing. Absorbed oil and pus become visible in the patches over time, showing the user that they are working. I initially opted for these in an attempt to make my blemishes less noticeable, but quickly realized that the lively colors allowed for skincare to be incorporated into the hours between our morning and night routines. Skincare can be, and should be, fun. It can also give us the opportunity to be real with ourselves.
I have dealt with acne for as long as I can remember and too often let it hold me back. Acne is always being covered up with makeup or really anything that can draw attention away from active blemishes. Seeing people on TikTok wear bright shapes all over their face empowered me.
Julie Schott, the co-founder of Starface, told British Vogue, “They don’t only work to treat the pimples themselves, but reprogramme the negative connotation around breakouts by giving spots a gold star. Just the simple act of putting on a star always makes me feel a bit better – it’s not about hiding, it’s about acceptance.”
Hydrocolloid acne patches have been deemed successful at treating surface-level pimples, but unfortunately are not ideal for cystic acne. I was determined to get some use out of them, as I am more prone to deep cystic acne, and found that they are great at preventing me from picking or touching anything on my face. These little patches are powerful: combating breakouts and the stigma around acne.
So, 2020, you taught us that skincare can be self-care. Taking time for yourself, away from screens, is necessary. Self care can also be making decisions about the world you live in, whether it is reducing your individual waste or creating a more empowering society. These are just three popular skincare practices from the year, but each benefits more than just your skin.