Skin barrier and probiotic products are going to be all over your TikTok and Instagram feeds.
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Let's set the record straight: The best skincare products are the ones that fit your skin type and individual concerns and needs. But it can still be fun to experiment with new ingredients or switch up the products in your routine with new formulas from buzzy brands or ones your favorite TikTok user swears by.

It's easy to get caught up in the hype of the latest and greatest skincare hacks and ingredients when they're being served to you on all of your social media feeds. And while I can't predict the future, as a beauty editor who's bombarded with new launches every day, I can forecast what will be trending in skincare come 2022 and break down whether they're the real deal or nothing more than persuasive marketing.

With the help of top dermatologists and cosmetic chemists, I've broken down the seven biggest skincare trends that will dominate the beauty industry next year, along with which products to try.

Skincare Trends That Will Define 2022
Credit: Courtesy/InStyle

1. Microdosing

In the context of skincare, microdosing refers to dropping minuscule amounts of a different type of acid, such as glycolic, along with other active ingredients like retinol. The method, however, is the same as taking minimal amounts of drugs to avoid adverse side effects.

"We know well that things in excess can often be irritating for the skin including over washing, over exfoliating, using too much retinoid, and using skincare in too high of doses," says Dr. Shari Marchbein, board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

While this trend embraces using lower concentrations of active ingredients, that doesn't mean these products don't deliver results. Instead, Dr. Marcbein suggests thinking of it as "appropriately dosing." The dermatologist says this means "every ingredient has an optimal concentration (and often optimal vehicle, as well as other ingredients it pairs well with or not). In order for skincare ingredients to work their best, we need to use them in their ideal state, not too high and not too low (which will be totally ineffective at achieving results)."  

A few examples? Dr. Sturm has formulated her The Good C Vitamin C Serum with 5% vitamin C, a concentration that's gentle and less likely to cause irritation, Paula's Choice's Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment has 5% AHA acid for radiance-boosting exfoliation, and Kiehl's Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Serum contains retinol with ceramides and peptide to reduce the redness and flaking often associated with vitamin A products.

Dr. Barbara Sturm The Good C Vitamin C Serum
Paula's Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment 5% AHA with Glycolic Acid
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Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum with Ceramides and Peptide

2. Refillable Packaging

In the U.S. alone, almost 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic was created for beauty and personal care products in 2018. So yeah, the beauty industry has a plastic problem. While 'zero-waste products' is an oxymoron, there are ways to cut down on the volume of single-use plastic in your skincare routine. The easiest method is opting for products with refillable packaging, and I'm happy to report more brands are getting into this game.

Take Pharrell's Humanrace brand, for example. The emerald green Humidifying Cream jar has a replaceable inner unit you can pop out after scooping out the last bits of product. Youth To The People uses glass bottles and jars, offering a jumbo size of its cult-favorite Superfood Cleanser that can be poured into the smaller sizes available to minimize single-use pumps. (Plastic pumps can't be recycled.) And luxury brands are making an effort, too. Yves Saint Laurent makes refills for its Pure Shots serums.

Humanrace Humidifying Cream
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Youth To The People Superfood Cleanser
Yves Saint Laurent Pure Shots Night Reboot Resurfacing Serum
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3. Fermented Skincare

Kombucha fans, rejoice: Fermented ingredients offer a ton of benefits for your skin, too. Recent studies have found have linked fermentation with a handful of anti-aging benefits, such as reducing inflammation.

"Fermented ingredients are currently popular in skincare as it uses a natural process to help enhance potency and penetration, without irritating the skin," says Dr. Garshick. "While more research is still needed, there have been some studies performed to suggest some benefits of using fermented ingredients in skincare, including one study that showed that fermented red ginseng had greater anti-wrinkle activity when compared to non-fermented red ginseng."

Glossier's Cleanser Concentrate is a gently exfoliating face wash infused with grape ferment extract in addition to AHA acids. While the copper hue looks like a glass of kombucha, we recommend just applying it to your face. You can't talk about this trend without mentioning Fresh's Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence, one of the OG products with fermented ingredients. And finally, Innisfree's Firming Energy Cream powered by fermented soybean to leave skin soft and supple.

Glossier Cleanser Concentrate
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Fresh Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence
Innisfree Firming Energy Cream With Fermented Soybean
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4. Skin Barrier Protection

The skin barrier will continue to be a buzzy skincare topic going into 2022 and beyond, thanks in part to microdosing, another of the year's skincare trends.

"With people getting more familiar with active ingredients, there's a bunch of new highly concentrated products available now, which sadly come with little to no instructions. What resulted was a lot of irritation mishaps and damaged skin barriers — which should never be the goal with at home skincare!," says Gloria lu, cosmetic chemist and co-founder of Chemist Confessions. "So now, in response, we see a bigger push for barrier repair, soothing ingredients, as well as lower dose products."

While "skin barrier" gets slapped on products and thrown around a lot on skincare TikTok and Instagram, it's important to understand what the barrier is and why products that support it are so important.

"Skin barrier products are designed to help strengthen and support our skin barrier, which is what our skin uses to keep the good stuff in, like moisture, and the harmful stuff out, like bad bacteria or external irritants," says Dr. Marisa Garshick, board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "When the skin barrier is disrupted, it can leave the skin susceptible to dryness, flaking, redness, burning, stinging, sensitivity in addition to worsening skin conditions such as acne and eczema. Additionally, when the skin barrier is compromised, it can be harder to tolerate other skincare products, particularly those containing ingredients like retinoids or exfoliants. By using products that help to boost skin barrier function and protection, it improves the overall health of the skin and allows to the skin to better tolerate other skincare products."

Dr. Garshick recommends products with ingredients that mimic what's in the barrier, such as ceramides and fatty acids. "Additionally, ingredients that support the skin microbiome, through the use of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics can be helpful to support the skin barrier," she adds. "Niacinamide, in addition to many other benefits in terms of soothing the skin and reducing inflammation, also works to support the skin barrier, making it a great option, especially for those with sensitive skin."

Skinfix Barrier + Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream is a popular pick, with its rich texture that absorbs without any greasy residue. EltaMD's Barrier Renewal Complex offers the hydration of a thick cream, but feels featherweight on the skin. Alternatively, you can boost barrier strength with a serum like Tata Harper's Superkind Bio Barrier Serum, with its silky smooth application.

Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream
Tata Harper Superkind Bio-Barrier Serum
EtaMD Barrier Renewal Complex
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5. Streamliners

The entire world slowed down in March 2020 when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. While some skincare enthusiasts partook in elaborate skincare routines while staying home to stop the spread, others scaled back on the number of products they used, and continue to reach for multitasking formulas now that the world is (mostly) opened back up again.

Along with saving time (and money) minimalist skincare routines also help minimize individual environmental footprints. Some of the most popular hybrid products include complexion products infused with SPF protection and additional skincare benefits.

When using one of these streamliners, Dr. Mona Gohara, board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, says it's important to ensure you're getting adequate sunscreen coverage from the formula by looking at its back label to "scope out the ingredients – sunscreen filters should be in the active ingredients list or else benefit may be variable."

Alternatively, you can layer these products over a traditional SPF as a booster. "I love the idea of using a sunscreen and then adding these on as a booster, they are both fabulous, and so cosmetically elegant," Dr. Gohara adds. "Remember 90% of the visible signs of aging come from daily unprotected exposure to UV light, so don't skimp!"

A few popular skincare-makeup hybrid products are Ilia's three-in-one Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40, Tower 28's Sunnydays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation, and Live Tinted's Huegaurd SPF and facial primer.

Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
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Tower 28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation
Live Tinted Hueguard 3-in-1 Broad Spectrum Mineral SPF 30 Primer

6. Blue Light Protection

Unless you're permanently dropping off the grid, there's no way to avoid blue light exposure. Since our cell phones and computers emit blue light, the risks of exposure became a hot topic during quarantine, when screen times were at an all time high. But, the sun is also a proven source.

"HEV light (high energy visible light) typically refers to blue wavelengths on the visible light spectrum. This blue light comes from sun exposure but also from computer screens, cell phones and other digital devices," says Dr. Marchbein. "Blue light has been reported to contribute to eye strain (hence the use of glasses that block the blue light) as well as cataracts, glaucoma and other eye disease. Recently, there have been some reports that HEV may also penetrate into the skin contributing to wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and aging, and while sunscreens protect against ultraviolet A and B rays, they do not typically protect again visible light (the caveat are those that contain iron oxide which is known to block visible light)."

While there is a direct connection between blue light damage and the sun, there needs to be more research done on the impact of screens. However, since we're more online and connected than ever, it's worth including products in your routine that specifically target blue light. Dr. Marchbein calls out antioxidants like niacinamide and vitamin C as two ingredients that offer protection, and of course, SPFs that include iron dioxide.

Goodhabit Skin is a newer brand whose products cater to blue light protection, including the antioxidant-infused Glow Potion Oil Serum, Susanne Kaufmann has a refreshing mist that can easily be spritzed throughout the day as you WFH on your laptop, and Sunday Riley's Light Hearted Sunscreen is specifically designed to block blue light and inflammation, in addition to UVA/UVB rays.

Goodhabit Glow Potion Oil Serum
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Susanne Kaufmann Blue Light Defence & Moisturising Mist
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Sunday Riley Light Hearted Broad Spectrum SPF 30

7. Pre- Pro- and Postbiotic Skincare

Important PSA: Your skin is currently covered in bacteria and fungi. Before you go scrub your face, Dr. Gohara explains why having microorganisms on your face is vital, and directly related to the influx of skincare products formulated with pre-, pro-, and postbiotics. "Although we are preoccupied with ridding ourselves of germs, sometimes these little critters are not only good but necessary for optimal skin health," she says. "Think of rides at an amusement park — each one needs to function to make it work. Same thing with the varying colonies of bacteria which make the skin tick. This is called the microbiome."

Prebiotics are like food for the good bacteria on the skin and help them grow, probiotics are the living organisms that make up the microbiome, and finally, postbiotics are the metabolic by-products of the bacteria. And a functioning microbiome equals healthy, balanced skin.

"We're realizing how important our innate microbiome is to our overall health and wellness. That includes the skin's microbiome," says Krupa Koestline, clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants, of these ingredients' rise in popularity. "We've gone through a cycle of over cleansing our skin, over exfoliating, using too many antibiotics, and we're realizing that we need to pay more attention to the symbiotic relationship between our microbiome and our health."

With more and more microbiome-centric products on the market, Dr. Gohara says to "choose brands that a rooted in science to ensure that the products are truly effective and not just paying lip service to another trendy ingredient. Brands such as La Roche-Posay and Avène have spent over a decade curating and isolating these ingredients to help skin health — go with them!"

Additontially, Koestline points out that many of your favorite ingredients are already prebiotics (think oat, ginseng, and glucomannan, to name a few).

Good Light We Come In Peace Probiotic Serum acts as an iPhone cover for your skin. In addition to microbiome support, it strengthens the skin barrier, hydrates, and minimizes inflammation. La Roche-Posay is one brand that's always focused on microbiome health. Its Toleraine Double Repair Face Moisturizer is great for sensitive or compromised skin, thanks to its signature prebiotic thermal water. And whenever you're in the mood for a mask, Amala's Pre+Probiotic Hydrating Yogurt Mask is ideal for thirsty, flaking skin.

Good Light We Come In Peace Probiotic Serum
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La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
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Amala Pre+Probiotic Hydrating Yogurt Mask
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