Trending skincare ingredients of 2021

2021 is off to a bumpy start. Look, we knew the winter would be long and challenging. But it’s one thing to understand it intellectually, another thing altogether to live through it. To take our minds off things, let’s get out our crystal ball. Why? To predict what will be the buzziest new (or old) ingredients in 2021.

Succinic acid

An ingredient that has been creating a lot of buzz in the skincare community is Succinic acid. Traditionally, the distillation of amber was the primary source of Succinic acid. But with advances in biotechnological processes, today, corn is the main source of Succinic (or bio-Succinic acid).
What does Succinic acid do for the skin, you might ask? It has plenty of skin-friendly benefits, the main being it is an alternative for Salicylic acid. It gently exfoliates the dead skin cells, eases congestion, and has antimicrobial properties. Another benefit is Succinic acid balances sebum production. It also has antioxidant properties, as it reduces lipid peroxidation.

There aren’t many Succinic acid products available at the moment but expect that to change during 2021.


Cica is also known as Centella Asiatica. When you mention Cica, Korean skincare fans will tell you it’s not a new ingredient. But since we have to wear masks for the foreseeable future, Cica isn’t going anywhere. Centella Asiatica is rich in flavonoids, terpenoids, vitamins, and amino acids.
While there isn’t a ton of studies, many swear by Cica’s benefits from the skin. It calms inflammation, acts as an antioxidant, and some research suggests it can speed up wound healing.


Astaxanthin is a carotenoid and has antioxidant properties. The primary source of Astaxanthin in skincare products is microalgae. It is also found in salmon and shrimp. It is a stable ingredient with potent antioxidant properties (some studies suggest it is more potent than vitamin C).
Astaxanthin photoprotects the skin, neutralises free radical damage, and calms inflammation. It also protects against hyperpigmentation and minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

You can find Astaxanthin in several types of skincare products, including serums, moisturisers, and facial oils.

Prebiotics and probiotics

Over recent years, skincare nerds in the know have become preoccupied with the skin microbiome. Why? Because it is one of the things that keep our skin healthy. It produces lipids and nutrients that our skin needs to function and reduces the risk of inflammation. Skin microbiome includes bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live on and in the skin. Every skin microbiome is unique to you.

Prebiotics and probiotics aren’t new in the skincare industry but, expect them to gain even more popularity in the upcoming months. Face masks are here to stay for the foreseeable future, and plenty of us have been battling skin issues we haven’t experienced before. Prebiotics are one of the ways to keep our skin healthy.

Prebiotics are food for probiotics and boost the diversity of bacteria. They encourage the proliferation of good bacteria that keeps our skin in balance. Formulating with probiotics is tricky since they are unstable ingredients.

Ishtar products to try – Skinbiotica Daily Defence serum, Ultralase 10 Mandelic acid serum, and Ultralase 15 Mandelic acid serum.


There isn’t a skincare nerd alive who doesn’t like their chemical exfoliants. It seems to us (and we might be wrong) when the sh*tshow that is the pandemic started, many of us used lockdown to trial and go a bit overenthusiastic with actives. It’s fine, we said. We aren’t going anywhere, we said. That thinking has led to irritated skin. First of all (and as we keep saying), you don’t need to exfoliate twice a day every day.

Second – have you considered Poly-hydroxy acids? Poly-hydroxy acids include Lactobionic Acid (derived from lactose), Gluconolactone (also known as Gluconic Acid), and Galactose (sugar that is a part of collagen synthesis).

PHAs molecules are larger than AHAs and slower to penetrate the skin. Because of this, they are less likely to irritate. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and work as humectants (bind water to the skin).

Ishtar products to tryPrep & Glow PHA Exfoliating Toner.

Have you tried any of the ingredients on our list? Were you happy with the results?

Roberta Striga