The pandemic has sounded the death knell for complex product formulas and endless beauty routines, paving the way for more authentic, natural approach and preventative care. Beauty is now more minimalist, focusing on a few key active ingredients instead of multiple layers of creams, serums and other products. Throughout 2021, the craze on TikTok - Gen Z’s preferred social network - was all about grandma’s age-old remedies based on natural ingredients.

Prickly pear and its anti-aging properties

If retinol — considered one of the most effective anti-aging active ingredients — is the star ingredient at the start of the year, as it has been around the world throughout 2021 (alongside aloe vera and vitamin C) according to a recent research from Skincare Hero, some botanical ingredients may supplant this active form of vitamin A in the coming months.

The prickly pear, for instance, is enjoying increasing success thanks to its anti-aging properties. Found in Mexico and the Maghreb, prickly pear seed oil is now renowned throughout the world for its anti-aging properties, now giving rise to numerous cosmetics formulated with this natural ingredient.

Rich in vitamin E, polyunsaturated fatty acids and sterols, prickly pear seed oil not only reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, but also improves skin tone and fights premature aging. And to top it all off, it is believed to have healing properties. While it is found in the form of a plant-based oil, there is a growing number of cosmetics based on prickly pear, including creams and masks for the skin and hair.

The many benefits of rice

Star of social media in 2021, rice is now an exceptional ingredient in cosmetics, enhancing dull skin, combination to oily skin, as well as mature skin. In fact, TikTokers came up with hacks and challenges throughout 2021 to highlight the many virtues of rice, using hashtags like #ricewaterhairchallenge (75 million views) and #ricewaterforskin (3.6 million views). While there were already rice-based cosmetics, it hasn’t taken long to see the emergence of many more, from rice powder masks to rice bran plant oils, exfoliants, mattifying powders and the likes.

Used for centuries in Asia to enhance women’s skin and hair, rice powder is known for its strong absorbing and mattifying power, whereas rice water, rich in antioxidants, fights the signs of aging while improving skin firmness and deep moisturizing. And as if that wasn’t enough, rice is also a great ally for hair, making it stronger and shinier. Properties that are now highlighted in a host of beauty brands’ products in the cosmetics aisle.

Flax to soothe and nourish

If the environmental qualities of flax have allowed it to make a comeback in the fashion world in 2021, its benefits for the skin are perhaps less well known. And yet, the powers of its flowers and seeds make it an essential ally for sensitive, dry and mature skin. And it’s clear that cosmetic brands have caught on too, bringing out a vast choice of creams, serums and oils based on this ingredient that’s soon to be a must-have.

The most sensitive skins will appreciate the soothing, anti-inflammatory and emollient powers of flax, which, as a bonus, has regenerating and repairing properties. But flax is also everywhere in the moisturizing section since it has nourishing virtues, while improving the elasticity and tonicity of the skin. Like prickly pear and rice, flax is also a top choice for mature skin because it would help delay skin relaxation and sagging. And, like its counterparts, it is not to be outdone when it comes to boosting hair in need of strength and thickness.