Top Skincare Ingredient Trends To Transform Your Skin In 2023
Consider this a PSA (public skincare announcement) to stop overworking your skin. Say goodbye to 10-step skincare routines and over-exfoliating: 2023 is the year for becoming kinder and more gentle on your skin. The top skincare trends for 2023 are all about using fewer, higher-quality products (otherwise known as the TikTok-originated term, skinimalism) that focus on skin barrier repair, slowing the skin aging process and achieving more balanced, well-hydrated skin. Naturally, the skincare ingredients expected to be the most popular in 2023 are all known for their restorative and hydrating properties. Some of these ingredients’ top benefits include helping to repair signs of a damaged skin barrier, attracting or sealing in moisture, and protecting your skin from outside irritants, such as UV rays, wind, dust, bacteria and dry air. When used alone or combined (multi-use products are also trending for 2023), these ingredients can improve your skin in various ways – from soothing inflammation and cracked or dry, itchy skin to smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines and reducing hyperpigmentation.
Expert Tip: Zensa Healing Cream contains medicinal-grade calendula oil and grapefruit essential oil, known for their respective skin barrier function improving and collagen-building properties, to reduce inflammation, heal dry or cracked skin, relieve eczema symptoms and manage signs of skin aging. These medicinal-grade oils are combined with other natural, deeply-nourishing ingredients – such as aloe vera, avocado oil, sunflower seed oil, shea butter, glycerin and hyaluronic acid – to formulate a multi-use lotion for soothing irritated or dehydrated skin, minimizing scarring and accelerating wound healing. Zensa Healing Cream can treat several common or specialized skincare needs, from eczema flare-ups and dry winter skin to support the skin repair process during PMU and tattoo after-care stages.
Read on to learn more about the top skincare ingredients to know for 2023, their benefits, how to use them and how they fit into the overall top skincare trend forecast for the year ahead.
All Eyes On Niacinamide
Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is the ultimate multi-purpose ingredient for clear, smooth and youthful skin. Some of the main skin benefits of niacinamide include its ability to repair a damaged skin barrier, boost skin hydration, shrink pores and clear acne, reduce irritation and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
A 2019 study found that niacinamide significantly reduces transepidermal water loss to improve skin barrier function. Niacinamide supports ceramide production (the building blocks of the lipid barrier) and boosts hydration to seal in moisture while also blocking irritants from penetrating the skin. These skin barrier-strengthening properties make niacinamide an effective treatment option for managing skin conditions like acne and rosacea (or enhancing the benefits of eczema treatments).
Niacinamide has a high antioxidant content to soothe skin redness, boost collagen production and shield the skin from free radical damage. These qualities help brighten skin to reduce hyperpigmentation and improve skin elasticity to smoothen (or prevent) fine lines and wrinkles.
How To Use Niacinamide: Use niacinamide both in the morning and at night. Niacinamide is suitable for all skin types, including very dry, dry, acne-prone or sensitive skin. Often, you will find niacinamide in a serum, so use it after your cleanser and before your moisturizer (see the proper order to apply your skincare routine HERE). Niacinamide can be combined with hyaluronic acid (fights skin dryness), salicylic acid (reduces acne), retinol (anti-aging) or vitamin C (sun protection, skin brightening and reduces hyperpigmentation).
Ceramides Take Charge
Ceramides act as the glue that holds our skin cells together and is essential to healthy skin barrier function. While your skin already produces ceramides to form the lipid barrier, ceramide production wanes as we age – naturally decreasing throughout our 30s and 40s. The main benefits of ceramides for the skin include their ability to restore the skin barrier, lock in moisture, shield the skin from outside irritants and improve skin texture (including signs of aging). Ceramides found in skincare products help “fill in” the lipid barrier that can be weakened by over-exfoliating or harsh products, dry air, cold climates or a natural decline in ceramides as the skin ages. This process seals in moisture to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which helps rehabilitate and prevent dry skin. Additionally, ceramides’ skin barrier strengthening benefits protect against environmental pollutants, such as sun damage or brisk cold air, and harsh active ingredients that often irritate the skin.
Ceramides improve skin hydration and smooth over any cracks in the skin barrier, which helps plump and soften fine lines, leaving you with a more even skin texture. A damaged skin barrier leaves cracks in the skin, which increase your vulnerability to bacterial infections and skin inflammation due to transepidermal water loss. Ceramides repair the skin barrier function to prevent and manage resulting inflammatory conditions, such as acne, eczema and rosacea.
How To Use Ceramides: Use ceramides twice a day, especially if you have dry or mature skin. Ceramides mix well with almost every common skincare ingredient and most often will be found in a moisturizer or serum. Apply your ceramide-infused product in the morning and night. Try using ceramides right after getting out of the shower (after cleansing and toning) to maximize the moisture absorbed into the skin.
Copper Peptides In Command
Copper peptides are the skincare world’s metal of the moment. This trendy ingredient is antioxidant-rich and revitalizes the skin for a more youthful, even-toned appearance. FYI: Peptides are short chains of amino acids that serve as building blocks for essential skin proteins. So, like other types of peptides, copper peptides promote collagen and elastin production. Copper peptides are best known for their anti-aging benefits. They smoothen fine lines or wrinkles and leave you with a plumper, firmer skin texture that can take years off your complexion.
Because of their high antioxidant activity, copper peptides are anti-inflammatory and increase cellular turnover to remove damaged proteins while simultaneously restoring your collagen and elastin reserves. These restorative benefits of copper peptides make them useful to reduce hyperpigmentation and support wound healing. They can help minimize the appearance of acne scars, skin redness and age spots. Copper peptides are also known as GHK-Cu, a type of peptide known for its wound-healing benefits. A 2018 study evaluating the cell regenerative effects of GHK-Cu (aka copper peptides) confirmed copper peptides’ positive wound healing and anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin.
How To Use Copper Peptides: While completely safe, copper peptides can cause a rash or ruin your skin if mixed with certain active ingredients (namely vitamin C or AHAs, like glycolic acid, and salicylic acid). Copper peptides usually are found in serums, products that should be applied after cleansing and toning before your moisturizer. Use copper peptides 1-2 times a day (only at night if you use a vitamin C serum in the morning). Copper peptides can be used with retinol at night if your skin is not too sensitive. Mix copper peptides with niacinamide or hyaluronic acid to help reduce hyperpigmentation, boost collagen production and improve skin barrier function.
Glycerin Gets A Glow Up
Glycerin is the hydrating powerhouse ingredient that is finally getting the praise it deserves. This sugar alcohol has a syrup-like, viscous texture that is colourless and odorless with a sweet taste. Glycerin can be derived from plant oils, animal fats or synthetic sources (e.g. petroleum). However, the glycerin found in skincare products is almost exclusively derived from plant sources – such as soybeans, coconut oil and palm oil. Vegetable glycerin (aka plant-based glycerin) is interchangeable with the term glycerol on product labels. So, if an item contains glycerol, you can be reassured that the product’s glycerin content is animal-free.
The main benefits of glycerin are its super-hydrating and skin barrier-restoring properties. Glycerin is a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture to the stratum corneum, which simultaneously supports aquaporin functionality (proteins essential to circulate hydration throughout the outer layers of the skin). By attracting water into the stratum corneum, glycerin increases ceramide production. This process helps repair the lipid barrier to seal in moisture, prevent transepidermal water loss and improve skin barrier function.
Glycerin can also be the secret to a more youthful, calm and clear complexion. The ingredient’s super-hydrating and skin barrier-strengthening properties help stimulate collagen production to help smooth wrinkles and fine lines. Additionally, glycerin helps block outside irritants from penetrating the skin – including harmful UV rays – to offer further anti-aging benefits. Glycerin helps circulate hydration and keeps the skin supple to reduce inflammation or risk for bacterial infections. These qualities make glycerin useful for treating conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis, supporting wound healing and reducing hyperpigmentation (from the sun or acne scarring).
How To Use Glycerin: Use glycerin twice daily if desired. Glycerin is suitable for all skin types and is most effective when paired with an occlusive. Layering glycerin (often found in serums) with an occlusive moisturizer helps seal in moisture and improve skin barrier function. Glycerin can be mixed with almost any other skincare ingredient. Consider using a product like Zensa Healing Cream, which combines glycerin with ingredients containing occlusive properties (such as avocado oil and sunflower seed oil). Zensa Healing Cream provides an all-in-one solution to dry skin, eczema flare-ups or recovery from any type of wound healing, scarring or inflammatory skin condition.
Hyaluronic Acid Ascendancy
Hyaluronic acid is a popular humectant, known for its versatility and ultra-hydrating skin benefits. This humectant can significantly improve your complexion’s texture, its elasticity and repair the skin barrier. Hyaluronic acid is known for its collagen-stimulating benefits that help smoothen fine lines and wrinkles for firmer, more supple skin. The skin flooding trend (applying hyaluronic acid after cleansing and before a moisturizer to enhance skin hydration during the winter) that is currently all over TikTok further highlights hyaluronic acid’s efficacy to prevent dry skin and improve skin barrier function.
Aside from topical versions that remain a mainstay in your daily routine, hyaluronic acid injectables will become even more popular in 2023 due to several filler-focused beauty trends, like chiseled cheekbones and jawlines, subtly-plumped lips and micro-Botox. All types of hyaluronic acid boost collagen production and provide a more youthful look without cosmetic surgery or permanent facial alterations.
How To Use Hyaluronic Acid: For topical use, hyaluronic acid should be applied twice a day on damp skin. Seal in the hydration drawn into the skin with an emollient or occlusive moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid is suitable for all skin types and enhances the benefits of most other popular skincare ingredients. Mix it with vitamin C to enhance its anti-aging benefits or ceramides, niacinamide and glycerin for an ultra-boost of hydration. Hyaluronic acid injectables will be done in a medical professional’s office, so follow their preparation and after-care instructions to ensure the procedure fulfills your expectations. Consider using a topical anaesthetic, like Zensa Numbing Cream, during your appointment to minimize pain without compromising the results.
Fungi-focused beauty has been on the rise for a few years now. However, mushroom skincare will be unavoidable in 2023. Mushrooms contain beta-glucan, a skin-hydrating agent (which acts similarly to hyaluronic acid) to protect the skin barrier and provide anti-aging benefits, thanks to their rich anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant content. There are several types of mushrooms on the skincare menu to choose from, depending on your needs. Some of the most common mushrooms available for topical use include reishi, shiitake, cordyceps and tremella, among others. Each mushroom type has unique qualities that make it more well-suited to treat specific skin concerns.
Reishi and tremella mushrooms have been found to inhibit tyrosinase activity, which suppresses melanin production to reduce hyperpigmentation and skin discolouration. Shiitake mushrooms are known for their ability to fade signs of hyperpigmentation (primarily from sun damage and acne scars) and boost cellular renewal to slow down the breakdown of collagen and elastin. Cordyceps mushrooms are an anti-aging powerhouse – known for their anti-inflammatory, skin-renewing and skin-hydration benefits. They help boost collagen and elastin production while increasing skin hydration and reducing dark spots or other signs of hyperpigmentation. Cordyceps also soothe inflammation and can help manage symptoms of eczema and psoriasis.
How To Use Mushroom-Infused Skincare: Most skincare products including mushrooms come in the form of a serum or lotion. Apply the mushroom-containing skincare twice daily. Layer it according to the product type, and follow the correct order when performing your morning or nighttime skincare routine. Mushroom-infused skincare products are suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin (unless you have an allergy). Combine your fungi-focused product with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to enhance its hyperpigmentation-fighting and hydration benefits.
Credit: Cheeky Physique/Pinterest
Retinol (& Retinoids) Reign
Retinol is a holy grail skincare item that everyone should at least experiment with in their skincare routine. Best known for its anti-aging benefits, retinol boosts collagen production and increases cellular turnover to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also exfoliates the skin to unclog pores, prevent or clear up acne breakouts and reduce dark spots to brighten your skin tone for a clear, even-toned complexion. However, for some individuals, retinol can have some irritating side effects – especially if you have very dry or sensitive skin. Fortunately, in 2022, TikTok introduced us to the dermatologist-approved skin cycling trend – a thoughtful, more gentle method that allows you to incorporate retinol into your routine, so you reap its skin barrier-strengthening benefits without the harsh side effects (Read more about skin cycling HERE).
How To Use Retinol: Start by using retinol every other day or 3 times a week. Only use retinol at night (sunlight decreases its efficacy). Retinol must be applied on dry skin, so wait at least 30 minutes after washing your face to apply retinol to your skin. To reduce the chance of adverse side effects, choose a low retinol concentration, apply moisturizer before layering your retinol on top or try skin cycling for a more gentle way to incorporate retinol into your regular skincare routine.
Squalane boosts hydration, supports skin barrier function and regulates oil production. Not to be confused with squalene (the lipids naturally produced by your skin), squalane is a lightweight, non-comedogenic oil (doesn’t clog pores), derived either from plant or animal sources (most modern formulas are extracted from olives, sugarcane or rice bran). It is suitable for all skin types and works by mimicking natural sebum (squalene) to replenish dry skin and controls the skin’s oil production to help balance oily skin. Squalane is an emollient, meaning it covers the skin to trap moisture in and prevents transepidermal water loss.
This natural antioxidant has many benefits for your skin. Squalane improves skin barrier function, minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduces skin redness and irritation, fades hyperpigmentation, moisturizes the skin and softens the skin for a more youthful complexion.
How To Use Squalane: Apply squalane once or twice daily (in the morning and at night). When doing your skincare routine, apply the squalane oil or a squalane-infused serum before your moisturizer. Squalane is highly effective when paired with active ingredients, such as retinol, vitamin C, AHAs and BHAs. Look for serums that combine an active ingredient with squalane for a simpler two-in-one solution, or mix squalane oil into your moisturizer after applying a serum containing one or more active ingredients. Squalane’s skin barrier-restoring benefits help counteract any side effects from these more abrasive ingredients – especially for individuals who have acne-prone or sensitive skin.
Witch Hazel Spotlight
The witch hazel revival has arrived with modern (milder) formulas set to be everywhere in 2023. Witch hazel is a tried-and-true astringent, derived from the North American witch hazel plant, that has been on the skincare market since the 1800s. It is rich in tannins and antioxidants, known for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and skin-tightening properties. Some of the main benefits of using witch hazel for your skin include reducing inflammation, shrinking pore size, and soothing skin irritation or redness. This powerful astringent also removes excess sebum (oil) and bacteria from the skin. Witch hazel is a great treatment option for acne, thanks to its ability to decrease swelling and redness, tighten pores and remove impurities like excess dirt, oil, bacteria and dead skin cells. By soaking up excess sebum, witch hazel can help balance out and manage oily, acne-prone skin. Witch hazel also helps preserve collagen and soothe burns from sunburns or razor burns.
How To Use Witch Hazel: Depending on your skin type, you can use witch hazel 2-3 times per week up to once a day. Witch hazel is often used as a toner, so it should be applied after cleansing and before your moisturizer. Consider combining witch hazel with hyaluronic acid, aloe vera or glycerin if you have dry skin or want to provide your skin barrier with some extra T.L.C. Zensa Healing Cream contains all three of these ingredients with medicinal-grade calendula oil, among other moisturizing ingredients, to support skin barrier health and avoid rashes, itchiness, redness or skin irritation.