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We’ve loved all things glittery and shiny this year, from shimmery palettes and pigments to glosses for our eyelids.

Glitter, niacinamide, Fenty Skin by Rihanna: 10 make-up trends we’ve loved this year that we will see a lot more of in 2021

  • We’ve loved all things glittery and shiny this year, from shimmery palettes, pigments and glosses to wanting to cover every bit of our face with rhinestones
  • Celebrity brands like Fenty Skin by Rihanna and Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez became a big hit, largely thanks to their being so inclusive

2020 brought more than just face masks and social distancing to our daily lives – social media became the place to find out how to improve our at-home beauty routines, and Instagram, with its 1 billion monthly active users, was the main platform for new trends to get started.

In terms of personal presentation, our fashion choices leaned towards comfy as we spent most of our time at home. When it came to beauty, it was a different story.

Online searches for make-up tutorials and skincare routines rose as, with more free time and all those Zoom meetings, we became more aware of how our faces look on a screen.

This gave birth to some fun and interesting trends that are likely to stick with us through the next year. Here just a few.

Brands like Nyx came out with dozens of new palettes and pigments to satisfy their consumers’ thirst for glitter.

1. Glitter all over

Glitter has always played a big role in make-up, but it took centre stage this year. Do you ever find yourself becoming distracted by the way light reflects off sparkly things? There’s a reason for that: our brains associate sparkles with the existence of water – the main element we need to survive. We see life and hope in it.

How to wear glitter make-up for the holidays

Maybe that’s why glittery make-up became such a trend, with content creators using it all over their faces, from their eyes and brows to their cheeks and lashes. Because of this, brands came out with dozens of palettes and pigments to satisfy a growing thirst for glitter.

There are more than 1.7 million social media posts with the hashtag #glittermakeup – a number that will surely keep on rising in 2021.

Get the look: Nyx Glitter Goals Cream Pro Palette


2. Graphic eyeliner

Gone are the days when eyeliner simply met your cat eye needs. With our eyes becoming the centre of attention in 2020, people became more creative with their eye make-up and invited some extra colour and shapes to the party.

As a result, coloured eyeliners and water-activated make-up became popular and people let their imagination run wild with the help of tiny little brushes. People have tried everything from florals to animal prints to constellations to more abstract ideas.

Get the look: Colourpop “Get Graphic” Liquid Eyeliner Felt Tip Pen Vault


3. Niacinamide in the spotlight

This year, plenty of people indulged in a wide range of self-care activities. With facials and spa treatments not deemed safe activities in salons (and they might not be for a long time), skin self-care became an at-home task and thousands turned to the internet to find out what their skin needs to stay healthy. That’s how niacinamide became one of the most popular skincare ingredients of the year.

Even if you haven’t heard of it, chances are you have already used it, as niacinamide has long been a part of many formulas. Niacinamide – also known as vitamin B3 – is a component that helps with pretty much everything: it minimises enlarged pores, improves uneven skin tone, softens fine lines and wrinkles, diminishes dullness and dark spots and protects your skin’s natural protection barrier. The best part? It’s suitable for all skin types.

Get the look: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Fenty Skin

4. Celebrity brands: Fenty Skin and Rare Beauty

2020 will be remembered as the year when plenty of rich and famous people launched their beauty industry collections – it’s like they all collectively agreed to do it at the same time.

While some of them didn’t live up to the hype, brands like Fenty Skin by Rihanna and Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez became a big hit. The secret to their success? Inclusion.

Rare Beauty products

Rihanna said she’d been working on a skincare line for years, but didn’t want to launch until it aligned with her beliefs. Her unisex skincare line is 100 per cent cruelty-free, formulated with gentle, effective ingredients and meant for anyone no matter their race, gender or age.

For Gomez, her Rare Beauty make-up line-up launch meant disrupting unrealistic expectations of perfection by encouraging people to highlight and appreciate what makes them unique and different.

Get the look: Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez and Fenty Skin by Rihanna


5. Acne positivity

This is one of the coolest and most interesting trends of the year. Did you know about 85 per cent of people between 12 and 24 have acne? Teenagers, after decades of Photoshopped magazine shoots and smoothed-out skin on social media, people are pushing back against skin shaming by making acne visible instead of hiding it behind filters or under make-up.

Acne takes a big toll on mental health and this year has been stressful enough thanks to the global pandemic. Teens realised the world doesn’t need another destabilising factor to make things worse. At the moment, there are about 150,000 posts tagged #acnepositivity and the number grows every day.
There’s a clear message here: treat your acne and work on making it disappear if you want to, but you equally have absolutely nothing to hide if you don’t, or if you’re in the middle of that journey.

6. Glossy eyelids

Eye shadow has been a make-up essential for decades but, up until now, the story has always been about shimmery or matte textures. This year has brought about a plot twist we never imagined: gloss. In a year where we have kept our lips hidden behind a mask, glosses have had to find a new area to shine – it ended up being our eyelids.


Dozens of brands have come out with special formulations to get that glossy eye effect, but the deal behind this trend is that you can use what you already have at home to achieve the look, making it an easy trend for everyone to try.

Get the look: 3INA The Eye Gloss


7. All-over-the-face patches

Forget sheet masks – this year, hydrating patches became our newest weapon to help us look presentable for our 8am webcam calls.

The world is most familiar with under-eye patches, but there’s so much more to the category now: from lip and cheek patches to ones for your neck and forehead. They hydrate your skin to minimise fine lines, brighten dull complexions and make pores look healthier and less visible.

Some of them feature ingredients that will help with things like dark spots, sagging or acne. At the end of the day, it’s simply about replenishing your skin’s hydration levels so it looks its best.

Get the look: SiO SuperLift Pack


8. Artistic freckles

Make-up isn’t just about your eyes and lips. When you have time, a mirror and your arsenal at hand, everything is fair game – and faux freckles are a trend that’s been popular for a couple of years now. This year not only saw thousands of people adding fake freckles to their faces – some of them patterned them to look like stars, flowers, clouds and hearts.

Our mask-wearing means this is not a trend that can be taken to the streets just yet but, when our Covid-19 days are behind us, you’ll be seeing artistic freckles all over the place.

Get the look: The Crème Shop Faux Real Freckle Stamp


9. Scalp care central

“How to cut my hair at home?” was one of this year’s most popular Google searches as people, unable to visit their regular hair salons, took matters literally into their own hands. Along the way, they also learned about scalp care.


Many brands took to Instagram to spread the word about the importance of taking care of your scalp.

Amika Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil
Full of ingredients the skincare community is already familiar with (like caffeine, niacinamide and salicylic acid), scalp care is sold as an extension of face care, and just as deserving of TLC.

Keep in mind our scalp’s skin is delicate so you can’t use the same products you apply on your face. Some brands have launched full lines dedicated only to this part of our bodies, and feature everything from scalp scalers to rinses and exfoliants, so you can find the method that works best for you.

Get the look: Amika Pink Charcoal Scalp Cleansing Oil


10. Rhinestones make-up

In another nod to us humans loving sparkly things, rhinestones (or diamantes) elevated the glitter trend to another, more 3D, level. The gems added a sense of glamour and finesse to make-up that the world desperately needed during 2020.

While the trend started with a few rhinestones on top of your winged or cat eye eyeliner, it’s now evolved into using as many as you want, wherever you want. Some popular places include above the eyebrows, under your bottom lashes, over the brow bone and all across your eyelids.

It’s only a matter of time before rhinestones take over every single bit of free space on your face. Well, there’s no such thing as too much sparkle, right?

Get the look: Colourpop Individual Crystal Face Rhinestone Jewels

Which stories mattered most to you in 2020? Find out with our Year In Review 2020 retrospective.