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Less Is More: 10 Low-Maintenance Beauty Trends You’ll See in 2021

nest hand sanitizer, iris and romeo foundation, goodhabit skincare
Nest/Iris & Romeo/goodhabit

As most of us spent more time at home in 2020, our beauty routines have become a lot more low-maintenance. Barely there makeup (why put it on if you’re not going anywhere?) has become the norm, and the beauty world has followed suit. Below are 10 makeup and skincare trends you’ll likely see throughout 2021.

The pandemic made it less desirable and, in many cases, impossible, to get spa treatments, haircuts, or mani-pedis. As a result, many folks had to learn how to do these things themselves.

Most of the 2021 beauty trends below have emerged to cater to our new, more low-key, at-home lifestyles.

Fancy Hygiene

Nest hand sanitizer on a bathroom shelf

Hand sanitizers and soaps are some of the biggest must-haves right now, so many brands have started offering products that we’ve dubbed “fancy hygiene.”

The emphasis will be on hand sanitizer that doesn’t just kill germs, but also hydrates and soothes dry skin. Plus, because everyone is carrying it around, many brands are focused on making hand sanitizer less clinical and more aesthetically pleasing. Nest Grapefruit Hand Sanitizer works and smells great, and looks nice, too.

If you’re looking for extra hydration, try Lather—it’s made with aloe.

Because we’re all constantly washing our hands, beauty brands are also shifting toward making fun hand soaps. Haircare brand Ouai, for example, made a hand wash with their signature scent.

And because all that hand washing dries out the skin, hand lotions that are also antibacterials and sanitizers will be popular. J.R. Watkins Cleansing Hand Elixir is a good one to get. It’s basically a no-rinse hand wash.

You’ll also notice more convenience—expect spray sanitizers and wipes to take over because they’re easy to use and great for traveling. One example is Olika Hydrating Hand Sanitizing Spray, made with essential oils to keep hands hydrated.

Clean Skincare

Youth To The People skincare products.
Youth To The People

There’s going to be a continued focus on sustainability in general, so it’s not surprising there’ll be a focus on clean skincare as well. Research shows that over the last few years, consumers have become more interested in what’s in their products, and how the ingredients affect them and the environment.

You can expect to see a lot more nontoxic products, that use natural plant-based ingredients, and claim to be more eco-friendly. You can also expect to see less plastic packaging. Many beauty brands will focus on using far less plastic (or none at all), in favor of recyclable or more eco-friendly packaging.

This goes for skincare, as well as makeup and beyond. Stores like Sephora now have entire sections dedicated to clean organic products. It’s also becoming easier to find these items at affordable prices in mainstream stores.

There are tons of options out there, but one example is Youth To The People. The company focuses on clean, organic, nontoxic skincare that’s also cruelty-free. Its products also come in recycled packaging.


woman holding iris & romeo foundation in front of face
Iris and Romeo

In their list of beauty trends for 2021, Pinterest coined the term “skinimalism” to show that low-key makeup that allows your natural skin to shine through is going to be big this year. Things have been moving in that direction for a while, but as 2020 saw people wearing considerably less makeup due to masks and social distancing, this makes more sense than ever.

Skinimalism basically means we’ll be opting for the “no-makeup” makeup look. Instead of caked-on foundation, concealer, and highlighter, many will use fewer products with lightweight coverage.

There’ll also be a focus on skin that “glows” through makeup, and a larger focus on taking care of your skin, in general.

There are lots of great no-makeup makeup products out there, but one of our favorites right now is Iris & Romeo’s Best Skin Days. a five-in-one tinted moisturizer that I feel like really captures this trend. It’s a serum, moisturizer, sheer coverage, sunscreen, and blue light/pollution protector all in one, and it delivers super lightweight coverage that never feels heavy and is ideal to wear under a mask.

Monochrome Makeup

Ilia skincare products on makeup

While skinimalism will definitely be a trend, that doesn’t mean makeup is going to be obsolete. Monochrome makeup is a huge trend as well. It basically means wearing only one color on your face, like one multitasking product to achieve almost your entire look.

Not only is this a really low-maintenance approach, but it’s also a nice take on a more low-key makeup look. It’s fun and interesting without being too elaborate.

To achieve this, try a product like Ilia Color Haze, a multiuse cream that can be used on your cheeks, lips, and eyelids for an all-over wash of the same color. It’s easy to use, features a clean formula, and you can make the color subtler or bolder to suit your preferences.

Probiotic Skincare

Three bottles of Phyla skincare products.

Probiotics and prebiotics are two buzzwords you’ve probably seen on everything from yogurt and beverages to beauty products. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that typically help with gut health. When it comes to skincare, they’re thought to calm your skin and boost the growth of good bacteria that make your skin flourish.

Beauty brands have caught on to the probiotic trend and are now offering lots of products loaded with good bacteria. Phyla, the world’s first true probiotic skincare brand, offers a package called 3 Best Friends, which is a 60-day starter kit to probiotic skincare. It includes a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer to improve your skin’s health. It’s also cruelty-free and nontoxic.

Skincare Devices

A woman using the Nuface Trinity Toning Device on her neck.

As spa days become less common, many consumers are choosing to splurge on expensive skincare devices to get their own version of spa treatments at home. Not only does this mean regular spa-goers will likely save money in the long run, but it also makes it more convenient to do intense skincare routines on your own safely.

High-tech skincare devices range in price and results, but there’s really something for everyone.

With the NūFace Trinity Toning Device, you can perform a microcurrent facial on your own.

The PMD Personal Microderm Classic allows you to perform microdermabrasion facials at home.

And finally, the SpectraLite FaceWare Pro from Dr. Dennis Gross claims to diminish wrinkles and blemishes.

Curtain Bangs

A woman cutting bangs.

Bangs are also having a moment right now, but curtain-style is especially trendy and will probably stick around for at least a few months.

This 1970s style has officially returned. It features longer bangs parted in the middle, so they frame your face like—you guessed it—curtains! As far as bangs go, this style is fairly low-maintenance, as they’re on the long side. They’re also a bit easier to style and will have grown out by the time you’re tired of them.

Hair Accessories

A woman wearing a Kitsch Metal Hair Clip.

You’ve probably noticed an uptick in hair accessories recently, and they aren’t going anywhere in 2021.

Expect to see lots of headbands and 1990s-inspired pieces, like these oversized versatile hair clips from Kitsch, that you can add to basically any hairstyle:

If you want to get in on the latest hair goodies, we also recommend the following:

Embellished turban-style headbands will likely remain popular all year.

And you can never go wrong with some embellished snap barrettes. They’re a fun way to add some sparkle to your look.

Blue-Light Protection

four goodhabit skincare products.

Because most of us are now working from home and will be for quite some time, we’re spending more time than ever in front of screens. Whether it’s the TV, computer, an e-reader, or your phone (and, let’s get real, most of us were doing this before the pandemic), these devices might be having an effect on your skin.

Aside from making it harder for you to fall asleep, there’s some tentative emerging evidence that blue light exposure might cause some wear and tear on our skin. Granted, the effect tends to occur a lot more slowly than intense sun exposure. Blue-light-protection skincare is supposed to act as a barrier that also hydrates.

While your best bet is probably to just wear an SPF, blue-light skincare is still worth a try, especially if it also has an SPF, along with other benefits. We prefer Goodhabit’s Rescue Me Made for Each Other mini kit. It includes a micellar cleansing gel, exfoliating toner, oil serum, and jelly moisturizer for the ultimate blue light protection day and night.

These products are intended to minimize the effects of blue light while hydrating your skin (we especially love the serum for the latter). They’re also packed with antioxidants.

Bold 1980s-Style Eye Makeup

bright colored eye shadow palette
Anastasia Beverly Hills

There’s the no-makeup, monochrome minimalist trend and then there’s the opposite: bold 1980s eye makeup. Yes, those colorful ’80s eyeshadow shades have circled back around in a major way. It’s fun to experiment with bold hues, even if you’re just hanging around the house.

We recommend the Norvino Pro Pigment Palette Vol. 2 From Anastasia Beverly Hills, as it has about every hue you could want. Mix and match the bold shades for a playful look.

In addition to the super-bright shadows, expect to see lots of bright eyeliners—especially blues. Play around with fun eyeliner styles, like exaggerated wings. We recommend the Flypencil by Fenty because it’s incredibly easy to apply.

Jessica Booth Jessica Booth
Jessica Booth is a freelance writer for LifeSavvy. She has been working in the editorial world as a freelance writer for over two years and previously worked as an editor for over eight years.  Jessica writes about travel, beauty, wellness, health, food, home decor, and parenting, and has reviewed and tested out products for all of those verticals over the course of her career. Read Full Bio »
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