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10 trending skincare ingredients to love and watch out for in 2021 so far

Skin is the largest and most complex body organ that requires several types of nutrients to maintain itself. And that’s why we have to be careful of the products we include in our skincare regimen. While the chic-packaging and celebrity brand ambassadors are an attraction, the most important thing to consider while buying skin care products is the ingredients and whether they will suit your skin or not.   

To help you in your research for what will work for you, we have compiled a list of the top trending skincare ingredients of 2021 and how they help in maintaining your skin’s health. 

Polyhydroxy acids 

Image credit: Cottonbro/Pexels

One of the most trending skincare ingredients, Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) are a type of hydroxy acids, just like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) but these are the gentlest of the three by far.   

These chemical exfoliators help to shed the dead skin cells, reduce hyperpigmentation and reverse sun damage to promote an even-toned and radiant complexion. PHAs are great for almost every skin type as they won’t dry up the skin and can be well tolerated by those who find AHAs and BHAs too irritating.   

Some of the most popular PHAs used in skincare products are lactobionic acid, galactose and gluconolactone. You can look for PHAs in cleansers, toners, moisturisers, masks and serums. Experts recommend using PHA products in combination with other moisture-locking ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin.   


Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and one of the most on-the-radar skincare ingredients for its anti-ageing benefits. It is a powerful antioxidant that fights free-radical damage, reduces acne, promotes cell renewal, diminishes fine lines and wrinkles while boosting your skin’s collagen production.   

Experts recommend introducing retinol to your routine slowly to build up the skin’s tolerance to it. It may make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so don’t forget to follow it up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

Hyaluronic Acid 

Image credit: Andriyko Podilnyk/Unsplash

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies that agrees with almost all skin types. It is a powerhouse of hydration that can hold 1000x of its weight in water. That’s why it is one of the best moisturising agents ideal for both dry and oily skin types. You can include hyaluronic acid serums and moisturisers in your skincare routine especially during the summer and winter months. It will not only help plump the skin by retaining moisture but also prevent it from evaporating into the air. 

It is also one of the ingredients used in many long-lasting lipsticks and lip stains. 


Niacinamide is a form of topical Vitamin B3. It offers a variety of skin benefits that include visibly reducing the signs of ageing and hyperpigmentation, reversing sun damage, protecting skin cells against oxidative damage and evening out skin tone. It has anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective against acne outbreaks.  

You can find it in serums, cleansers, toners, moisturisers and masks. If you have sensitive skin, experts recommend choosing products with a lower concentration of niacinamide.      

Vitamin C 

Image credit: Noah Buscher/Unsplash

This buzzy skincare ingredient has been here forever and we have seen a rise of products incorporating ascorbic acid, which we know as vitamin C. It is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and environmental stressors, repairs UV damage, prevents premature ageing, reduces hyperpigmentation and evens out the skin tone.  

Vitamin C is commonly found in cleansers, serums, moisturisers, sunscreens and masks. Look for vitamin C products available in opaque bottles or pump dispensers as this ingredient can destabilise or lose potency after coming in contact with air. 


Also known as Glycerol or Glycerine, it is a major skincare ingredient found in moisturisers and lotions. It is a humectant found naturally in the skin and acts as a moisturising agent to establish hydration and prevent dryness. Glycerin’s skin-replenishing and skin-restoring properties make it the best humectant among others such as hyaluronic acid and AHAs.    

Aloe Vera 

Image credit: Alexandra Tran/Unsplash

Aloe Vera is a popular plant that yields clear and gooey, gel-like extract with anti-fungal and cell regenerative properties. It contains over 75 naturally active ingredients that provide antioxidants to the skin and help rejuvenate it. You can add moisturisers formulated with aloe vera to your skincare routine and enjoy smoother, hydrated, soft and plumped skin. It is an excellent remedy to soothe sunburnt or irritated skin.   


Bakuchiol (pronounced buh-KOO-chee-all) is a plant extract that has been extensively used in Chinese and Indian medicine for years. Think of it as Retinol’s gentler cousin that offers a less-irritating, clean, natural and vegan alternative. Studies have shown that skincare products formulated with bakuchiol help with hyperpigmentation, ageing, pigmentation and photodamage when used twice a day for 12 weeks. It can be a great entry-level ingredient that is suitable for even sensitive skin types. 

Centella asiatica 

Image credit: Centella asiatica/Wikipedia

Centella asiatica (cica), commonly known as Gotu Kala or tiger grass, has recently gained popularity through K-beauty products, but it has been used for nearly 3,000 years in traditional medicine.  

Cica extracts help regulate collagen synthesis, prevent oxidative damage from environmental stressors and strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier. You can use cica serums or creams to reduce acne, scars, dryness, skin inflammation, fine lines and wrinkles. 


Last but not least on the list of top trending skincare ingredients, Collagen is heralded as one of the most potent anti-ageing ingredients in skincare products. What is collagen? It is a protein that occurs naturally in our skin and plays a significant role in how our skin looks and ages. This plentiful protein forms 75 to 80 per cent of our skin and acts as a water-binding agent to lock in moisture. Topical collagen and its effect on the skin is still controversial, however, taking collagen supplements has proven effective to aid collagen loss that happens naturally with age. It may also help increase skin elasticity, reduce eye wrinkles and prevent fine lines and wrinkles. 

Hero image credit: Unsplash / Park Street; Featured image credt: Unsplash / Гоар Авдалян

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India

Akriti Sharma
Full-time writer, part-time science nerd, Akriti switched gears to writing when she was at the precipice of her scientific career as a biotechnologist and never looked back. She loves to write every day and believes in pursuing stories with moral force. She is an enthusiastic traveller, photographer, chai aficionado, aspiring minimalist and a strong proponent of the Multiverse Theory.
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