Saturday, April 20, 2024

These Will Be the Biggest Skin-Care Trends of 2024

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It’s the stuff of sci-fi movies, and occasionally heated debates in the beauty industry: active ingredients culled from youthful tissues, serums that calm your skin — and your nerves. The skin-care trends you will see everywhere in 2024 sometimes blur boundaries and raise eyebrows.

This is all happening against a backdrop of increasingly individualized skin care, says Corey L. Hartman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Birmingham, Alabama. There are even ways to harvest your own biological materials for one-of-a-kind injectables — talk about mad-science vibes. To be clear, though, this is nascent technology and most definitely not yet approved by the FDA.

Then there are the trends that have nothing to do with the individual and everything to do with the big picture, such as more equitable skin care and evolving regulations that will finally make clinical testing more inclusive.

We pored over the data and talked with experts to give you a snapshot of the top skin-care trends of 2024.


Meet the experts:

  • Corey L. Hartman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Steven Cohen, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon in San Diego.
  • Ben Talei, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills.
  • Danica Chen, PhD, is a professor of metabolic biology, nutritional sciences, and toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Nadine Pernodet, PhD, is the senior vice president of bioscience and lead scientist at Estée Lauder Research Laboratories.
  • Elizabeth Houshmand, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Dallas.
  • Ron Robinson is a cosmetic chemist.
  • Nancy Samolitis, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles.
  • Julie Russak, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
  • Hadley King, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
  • Kelly Dobos is a cosmetic chemist.
  • Julia Brooks is Givaudan’s business support scientist, Health & Well-being.
  • Asha Shivaji is the CEO and cofounder of the SeeMe Index.
  • Rolanda Wilkerson, PhD, is the senior director and principal scientist at P&G Beauty.

In this story:


Regenerative medicine will inspire your skin care.

This year skin care won’t focus solely on addressing the signs of aging; it’s going to try to make cells behave younger, says Steven Cohen, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in San Diego. As with so many skin-care trends that have come before, this one is rooted in medicine — in this case, regenerative medicine, which is centered on developing and applying therapies to help the body heal itself. For example, stem cells — those biological blank slates that can turn into new skin, cartilage, or bone — are currently used in oncology to help the body produce new blood cells after high doses of chemotherapy.

Again, this may sound like sci-fi (a tall order for the medical community, let alone labs that make moisturizers), but there are already ways to make your skin not just look younger but act younger too. Platelet-rich plasma injections, for instance, use a person’s own blood cells and plasma to accelerate healing (in, say, a patient with a sports injury), and may benefit the skin by improving the appearance of wrinkles, pores, hyperpigmentation, and encouraging collagen production, according to one small study published in the journal Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. There’s no clear consensus on whether platelet-rich plasma injections benefit the skin, however, because the evidence tends to be limited.

Nanofat injections, a newer phenomenon, harvest a mix of cells, including stem cells, from a person’s own body fat. A new review of studies published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine looked at whether nanofat injections are capable of improving skin tone and texture, and referenced one case where 5 ccs of nanofat visibly reduced the appearance of a patient’s fine lines and wrinkles a year after treatment. But the authors also noted that “further studies are needed to assess the long-term efficacy and safety of this technique.”

In 2024, this hyper-personalized approach to smoothing wrinkles will influence at-home skin care. Acorn Biolabs is one company that will harvest one’s own stem cells — by plucking 50 hairs from your head — and cryopreserve (a.k.a. freeze) them. They say they will offer personalized skin care: freeze-dried growth factors and exosomes (more on this soon) from customers’ own cells can be reconstituted in hyaluronic acid. This level of customization will cost you, though: The harvesting alone is priced at around $945, and banking your stem cells is $190 a year.

For now, expect to hear more about stem cells, stem cell-conditioned media specifically, meaning molecules like proteins and exosomes secreted by stem cells (more on this soon too) in skin care. Many Allure editors have been loyal to SkinMedica’s TNS Recovery Complex since it launched in the early 2000s, shocking the world by using growth factors cultured from neonatal foreskin. Newer serums featuring stem cell-conditioned media include Anteage Pro System and Symbiome The Answer. For a synthetic alternative, board-certified plastic surgeon Jason Diamond‘s Metacine Instafacial Plasma uses lab-made growth factors.

But it’s important not to conflate medical applications with skin-care efficacy. “Various stem cell therapies are available as topical solutions and to be performed as injections, and the two are very, very different,” says Beverly Hills-based, double board-certified plastic surgeon Ben Talei. “Certain stem cell-type therapies have shown in some studies to change the way the cells themselves in the area function, and to help repair scarring, damage from burns, and hair loss.” These are not creams, though; they are injected into the face or body.

Another emerging area to keep an eye on is the study of sirtuins, enzymes that have different activities, two of which may include helping the body repair cell damage and optimizing cellular renewal. About 20 years ago, new discoveries linked sirtuin activity to longevity and metabolism regulation. Now, research is showing how some of these “longevity proteins” might turn back the clock on the skin.

In a symposium at the World Congress of Dermatology this year, Danica Chen, PhD, professor of metabolic biology, nutritional sciences, and toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley, shared research on the relationship between sirtuins and the hallmarks of aging; in one study, for example, Dr. Chen found one type of sirtuin (SIRT7) might be involved with improving cognitive function in aged mice. Nadine Pernodet, PhD, senior vice president of bioscience and lead scientist at Estée Lauder Research Laboratories, then laid out Estée Lauder research about how sirtuins 1, 2, 3, and 6 can directly impact proteins in the skin, boosting collagen production in mature skin cells and increasing skin cell area, a feature typical of younger skin cells. Estée Lauder is working on new skin-care formulas that incorporate this research into their skin care, with a focus on ingredients that can support the activity of these sirtuin networks.

Symbiome The Answer Serum

Dr. Diamond’s Metacine Instafacial Plasma

Exosomes will be buzzy, and hugely controversial.

Exosomes, a kind of regenerative ingredient, are in fact a stem cell secretion, but they are also a buzzword on their own. “At every [dermatology] meeting, exosomes are a hot topic,” says Elizabeth Houshmand, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Dallas. Exosomes are extracted from living cells — namely, stem cells — and their components (peptides, amino acids, lipids) are supposed to signal skin cells to communicate, regenerate, and repair, says cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson.

Scientists are learning more about how to isolate exosomes — they’re being studied for the treatment of diseases — but we are still in the beginning stages of understanding all their mechanisms, says Dr. Talei. Because of their futuristic vibe and their uncharted, for better and worse, potential, Dr. Hartman refers to exosomes as “the AI of skin care.”

What is the “worse” part? Exosomes can also contain things you don’t want, such as the stem cell donor’s DNA. Says Dr. Hartman, the lack of safety data and FDA approval are what make exosomes in serums and creams such a contentious trend. For example, a 2022 study published in the journal Stem Cells International suggested that exosomes taken from cancer cells can fuel tumor growth, which is why screening the health of donors is incredibly important.

Illegal exosome clinics, which offer therapeutic injections, have already come under fire from the FDA: “Exosome products are regulated by the FDA and there are currently no FDA-approved exosome products,” the agency said in no uncertain terms in its statement on regenerative medicine products, including exosomes and stem cells. (We asked the FDA to clarify what that means for exosomes in skin care, but as of this writing have not received a statement from the FDA.)

“While I do think exosomes are the future [of skin care], they are human-derived and must be tested for viability, sterility, and cleared from containing viral particles,” says Nancy Samolitis, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles.

Julie Russak, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, considers exosome injections to be the next generation of in-office treatments for making skin act younger. Dr. Hartman, though, is wary: There’s concern about the idea of injecting donor exosomes because of the risk of DNA transfer. While exosomes can, in theory, be extracted from one’s own stem cells, the technology for doing so is not widely available, as it is for platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, injections. Also, exosomes are believed to work best when they come from young stem cells — very Once Bitten.

Some serums that claim to include exosomes are already available for topical use — with steep price tags hovering around $300 to $500 — such as Elevai Enfinity, Angela Caglia Cell Forté, and Morphiya Exosome Concentrate. Dr. Cohen finds the third-party clinical testing on Morphiya’s potential to reduce wrinkles and pigmentation so compelling that he recommends it to his patients, and his practice struggles to keep it in stock. (Dr. Cohen is part of the scientific board behind Morphiya.)

But what about the part where we said exosomes could contain unwanted regenerative material, a terrifying prospect that would mean potentially taking a donor’s unhealthy cell signaling and instructing your own skin cells to follow it? Dr. Cohen explains that he is comfortable with Morphiya because its exosomes “are not human [derived]. They are from an isolated bovine herd and taken from the calves’ cord blood. No animals are killed — it’s like donating cord blood after the delivery of a baby.” And the brand Cartessa gives customers dossiers that itemize the components of its perinatal-derived exosomes in its ExoCR serum.

Elevai and Angela Caglia source the exosomes in their serums from labs that use extensively pre-screened donors’ stem cells to conduct medical research. In these instances, the stem cells are donated and then proliferated, or grown, in the lab before they go on to clinical trials. While they are being grown in the lab, they naturally secrete a regenerative treasure trove that includes exosomes, but also things like cytokines and growth factors. These leftover secretions, called stem cell-conditioned media, are what’s going into these skin-care serums. So they can be seen as making use of a valuable byproduct of medical research, whose donors are both consenting and extensively screened according to FDA standards.

Elevai Enfinity Exosome Regenerative Serum

Angela Caglia Cell Forté Serum

Morphiya Exosome Concentrate and SOS Cream Bundle

Cartessa ExoCR Advanced Biologics

More brands will offer up solves for “over-processed” skin.

There’s a reason board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe’s “skin cycling” — using active ingredients some days and basic moisturizers on others to give the skin “nights off” — was a top hashtag on TikTok in 2023. Skin-care routines that are heavy on active ingredients, like retinoids and exfoliating acids, can result in red, irritated, sensitized skin. “I do think our infatuation with aggressive topicals has impacted our skin barriers,” says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “The skin will never look or feel its best if the barrier is impaired.” This can make skin drier and, over time, more vulnerable to conditions like dermatitis.

Fixes that have gone viral often entail adopting a whole new (and hashtaggable) routine, such as slugging, by wearing occlusive balms overnight, or skin flooding, by layering on as many moisturizing products as you can stand.

But a simple fix for a compromised skin barrier is moisture, so we can expect to see more hydrating products and ingredients in 2024. Says Robinson, “Given the need for barrier repair, hydrating serums, milks, and facial sprays will continue to trend.” There will be oldies but goodies, like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, but also newer moisturizing ingredients, like polyglutamic acid, beta glucan, and snow mushroom extract, he adds, noting that biomimetic ingredients, which can be made in a lab to re-create what is found on the skin, will be beneficial, with ceramides, squalane, and peptides topping his list. The new line of Orveda uses peptides, along with prebiotics and a biotech-created antioxidant, for example, to soothe.

And because barrier disruption is associated with sensitivity and redness, we’ll see more milky and balm-like textures featuring lipid-rich oils — plant-based squalane and anti-inflammatory ingredients like blue tansy, for instance — in cleansers and moisturizers. Banila Co Clean It Zero Firming Balm is rich in ceramides, while May Lindstrom Skin The Blue Cocoon and Furtuna Skin Replenishing Balm are two balms (with blue tansy oil and jojoba oil, respectively) that help soothe and prevent moisture loss overnight.

Barrier-compromised skin can also benefit from products formulated for post-treatment use, when the skin barrier has been intentionally compromised: CO2Lift Carboxy Gel Treatment is a mask with ceramides (you’ll find it on more than one dermatologist’s list of at-home treatments for soothing skin after ablative treatments such as laser resurfacing) and Epicutis Lipid Serum aims to calm with ingredients that mimic the lipids you find in the skin.

Orveda The Omnipotent Concentrate

Banila Co. Clean It Zero Firming Balm

May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon

Furtuna Skin Replenishing Balm

CO2Lift Pro Carboxy Gel Treatment

Neurocosmetics will explore the mind-body connection.

Wearing a face mask or massaging on moisturizer has always felt relaxing, but skin care is going to try to take the calming effect to a higher, soul-soothing level. “The upper layers of the skin contain sensory receptors called Merkel cells that can recognize touch and temperature,” explains cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos. “We’re going to see more treatments focused on the brain-skin connection and looking into how simple sensory stimulation can improve our overall wellbeing.” She calls this new category “neurocosmetics,” with one example in ingredients that create cooling or warming sensations when massaged into the skin.

Ingredient manufacturers are developing warming ingredients with a cozy feeling that may last for hours. And you can already give yourself an at-home ice facial with Melissa Imperial’s ‘Cryo’ Facial Ice Popsicle, a skin-care popsicle-maker you fill with purified water (or mix in some rose water and chamomile for a DIY boost), freeze, and then run over your skin.

This kind of cryofacial — using extreme cold or ice on the skin — has had a resurgence, with the hashtag #cryofacial garnering over 11 million views and cryotherapy as a topic getting over 174 million views on TikTok. “Cryo treatments have been around forever” — they are thought to have been developed in the 1970s in Japan — “but are coming back around,” says Dr. Samolitis. “While dermatologists use liquid nitrogen to chill the skin, and treat acne, in particular, you can get a similar effect from good old ice cubes or ice packs.”

The 10-minute in-office treatment is, anecdotally, helpful for exfoliation, pore refinement, and lymphatic drainage, says Dr. King. At home, ice cubes can help de-puff, tighten the appearance of pores, bring down swelling, and temporarily boost circulation for a bit of a glow — and it never hurts to ice a breakout. “Because the cold temperatures cause the blood vessels to vasoconstrict, this can reduce the amount of interstitial fluid that accumulates, reducing the amount of fluid to be drained by lymphatics,” Dr. King explains, noting that ice can also be particularly beneficial for de-puffing beneath the eyes. But ice can damage skin tissue if it’s left on too long, so she recommends wrapping the ice cube in a washcloth or a facial cotton round, and keeping skin-care popsicles moving quickly.

Rare Beauty is branching out from makeup with its new line, Find Comfort, which includes an aromatherapy pen, hair and body mist, body lotion, and hand cream, and launched this week at Sephora. The fragrance in the body care was designed to smell “like a hug,” says Rare Beauty founder Selena Gomez, with warm and cozy notes, like cashmere woods. Rare Beauty Find Comfort Hydrating Hand Cream‘s triangular bottle was designed to offer an extra moment of calm when you massage your hands with its rounded corners after applying the formula. The aromatherapy pen (Rare Beauty Find Comfort Stop & Soothe Aromatherapy Pen) is relaxing blend of peppermint, lavender, and tonka bean notes that you can throw in your purse or keep on your nightstand.

We can also expect to see more aromatherapy fragrances in 2024. The flavors and fragrance house Givaudan, for one, is studying the connection between scent and mood, with the goal of creating fragrances with wellness benefits rooted in neuroscience. “We’ve always known on a personal level that scent has the ability to make us feel a certain way, and with our research we’ve been able to tap into a fundamental understanding of how smell works in connection with everything else that we’re doing — whenever we smell something, even if we’re not necessarily paying attention to that smell, the odors reach receptors in our nose and trigger an electrical signal to the brain,” says Julia Brooks, Givaudan business support scientist, Health & Well-being. Neural connections — between what you’re smelling and how you’re feeling — become forged, “and when we smell something again later, it then triggers those same feelings, memories, and associations, because it’s a pattern of response,” she says. By measuring those emotional responses using neuroscience techniques like brain scanning, Givaudan has seen patterns of responses that help classify smells as ones that are, for example, relaxing, invigorating, or blissful, and this research can inform both perfumes and the fragrances in personal care products. Soap & Glory Perfect Zzzen Warming Body Scrub’s lavender and tonka bean fragrance is meant to help get you ready for sleep. So-called fragrance supplements, which you spray onto pulse points and sniff for mood benefits, from The Nue Co. are rooted in Givaudan’s research to help you focus (Mind Energy), destress (Forest Lungs), or recharge (Water Therapy). You can also create your own scent-mood connections: “I always choose a shower gel for [a vacation], and if I use that shower gel again it immediately transports me back to that holiday,” says Brooks. She has also been known to smell a sunscreen she previously wore on a beach vacation on a stressful day.

And we’re seeing more skin-care products containing ingredients that have been used orally to regulate mood, like CAP Beauty’s Serotoner with Griffonia simplicifolia. The plant contains an amino acid, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which has been said to help with anxiety and depression when taken orally. (According to the FDA, there’s limited data to consider 5-HTP as an effective long-term treatment for depression.) There is no evidence that these ingredients do anything to your mental state when applied topically, but we all know that just the act of taking care of your skin can be uplifting.

Melissa Imperial Skin Artistry ‘Cryo’ Facial Ice Pop

Rare Beauty Find Comfort Hydrating Hand Cream

Rare Beauty Find Comfort Stop & Soothe Aromatherapy Pen

Skin equity will be a driving force behind more inclusive products.

We’ve heard rumblings that the FDA is changing its requirements so that all skin-care devices — meaning in-office and at-home options — will have to show clinicals on the darkest complexions on the Fitzpatrick scale, Types 5 and 6, to receive FDA approval, though the FDA has not confirmed its plans to Allure. “This is important. New rules take into account the skin-tone range in America and the changing demographics of the US population,” says Dr. Hartman, who first heard about the potential changes at the Skin of Color Society’s Diversity in Dermatology Clinical Trials conference and expects them to go into effect in 2024. Currently, aesthetic devices aren’t required to prove safety on Fitzpatrick Types 5 and 6, even though devices that use heat, whether for laser-driven hair removal or energy-driven skin tightening, can be more likely to have an adverse effect on darker complexions. In highly melanated skin, Dr. Hartman explains, too much thermal damage can result in hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin), both of which are difficult to treat.

This is an important step toward greater inclusion and representation, and new tools like the SeeMe Index have emerged to help beauty brands become more socially responsible too. The index uses AI to help brands understand how inclusive they are on different metrics such as skin tone, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, body size, and visible disability. “We started the SeeMe Index because we believe everyone deserves to be included by the brands they shop from,” says Asha Shivaji, CEO and cofounder. “Inclusivity needs to be holistic. It’s not enough to have different ages and skin tones represented in your skin-care ads if the product hasn’t been tested on those same people.”

So far, SeeMe has measured 40 of the top beauty brands, reporting that it has seen its results prompt brands to take “immediate action and think differently about how they act inclusively.” And the SeeMe data is transparent: When you’re shopping for a beauty product, you can see how each brand has been ranked.

P&G Beauty, for example, has recognized the need for more inclusive product development — and for multiethnic research to back it up. “The properties of highly coiled, textured hair can impact how products and ingredients interact with the hair,” says Rolanda Wilkerson, pHD, senior director and principal scientist at P&G Beauty, who’s worked on brands like Pantene, My Black Is Beautiful, and Head & Shoulders. She and her team “conducted a multiethnic hair and scalp clinical and consumer understanding study. The insights and results enabled the development of new hair-care products like the Pantene Gold Series New Lengths Collection,” says Dr. Wilkerson. “Healthy hair has a different meaning to different consumers, driven by differences in hair structure, pattern, and shape across ethnicities. We are committed to developing products that meet the needs of all.”

Pantene Gold Series New Lengths Anti-Breakage Defense Serum

Classic ingredients will find new life, and increased efficacy.

There’s a fresh “leveling up” of tried-and-true active ingredients. “While these ingredients are not new, they’re being used in more sophisticated ways,” says Dobos. For instance, Robinson says, chemists keep tinkering with ways to make hyaluronic acid more effective, such as using multiple molecular weights in single formulas to target different depths of the skin. Other well-established skin-care ingredients have new delivery mechanisms or are being combined with other actives to ramp up efficacy.

Olay’s “activated” niacinamide is being used in the Olay Super Serum. A new brand-sponsored study show’s the formula’s ability to improve skin tone, texture, and barrier support. “Niacinamide is a cosmetic ingredient rock star because of its multiple benefits, including antioxidant activity, skin tone evening, and skin barrier improvement. But many factors, such as the delivery system, other ingredients in a formula, and the pH of a formula, can impact efficacy,” says Dobos. “Based on studies I’ve read, the scientists at Olay have carefully studied how to get optimal efficacy from niacinamide in their new Super Serum, and I love that the formula also contains trehalose, a sugar molecule that has a strong water-binding capacity.”

Dr. Samolitis is particularly excited about tranexamic acid for treating hyperpigmentation, including melasma, the most stubborn form. But soon, Dr. Samolitis says, evidence to support its use for skin conditions that go beyond pigment control will emerge. “We are learning much more about its potential benefits for other skin conditions like rosacea and redness, which are traditionally difficult to treat with skin care,” she says. You can find tranexamic acid in Isdin Isdinceutics Melaclear Advanced, The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Serum, and SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum, which won an Allure Best of Beauty Breakthrough award and has been shown to fade discoloration across multiple skin tones.

Robinson and Dobos also have renewed interest in peptides, a deceptively common word that encompasses a vast array of peptides, all with different effects. “There are many different peptides used in skin care, from those that act as messengers to signal your cells to stimulate collagen and elastin to neuropeptides that signal your facial muscles to relax so as to smooth out wrinkles,” says Robinson. In 2024, he predicts, new peptide innovations will deliver more significant results than we currently see in over-the-counter formulas, especially when it comes to neuropeptides. You’ll find peptides in Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum and Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Wrinkle Resist Eye Cream, both of which are Allure Best of Beauty winners.

Isdinceutics Melaclear Advanced Dark Spot Corrector

The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Serum

SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum

Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurfacing Serum

Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Wrinkle Resist Eye Cream


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Now watch Charli d’Amelio react to TikTok trends:

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