From the fitness mecca of LA to the health technology hub of Silicon Valley, the US West coast is the best coast when it comes to health, beauty and wellness.
As the UK locked down, our thoughts turned to health and wellness like never before. Home technology like deep massage guns and rejuvenating light masks for the face have gone from obscure items to (tongue-in-cheek) ‘lockdown essentials.’ But which of these trends are here to stay in 2021?
Here are 13 leading health and wellness trends from across the pond.
1. Microbiome skincare
The microbiome is having a moment. The microorganisms that live on and inside our body are powerful allies, helping us perform essential tasks like digestion. Did you know that as many as a trillion microorganisms live on our skin, and each of us is thought to have a unique set of them? In California, microbiome skincare is increasingly driving the facial skincare market. Hyper-personalised skincare comes with promises of increased hydration, dewy skin, and the ability to ward off visible signs of aging, blemishes and acne. Finally, skincare that’s as unique as you are.
2. Blue beauty
You’ve heard of slow beauty, now it’s time for blue beauty. The world is increasingly waking up to the threat of water waste (it’s one of the reasons driving more and more of us to adopt vegan diets). Now, beauty mavens in parched California are embracing water-less alternatives to thirsty products like shampoo and foaming cleanser. Procter & Gamble recently launched their Waterless hair line in the US only. As the UK increasingly embraces packaging-free and plastic-free beauty products, will waterless hair care be next?
3. Conscious consumerism
In a year that brought racial justice into the mainstream, it’s no surprise that American shoppers show a growing enthusiasm for Black-owned beauty businesses and brands. Stockists like Credo, Sephora and Ulta beauty have created dedicated spaces for businesses owned by people of colour. 2020 saw the launch of Black Pound Day in the UK, and shoppers on this side of the pond look set to support Black-owned beauty businesses in 2021 and beyond.
4. Dying well
In a year that saw many of us reckon with death and dying like never before, a new openness to talking about death has bloomed. The trend has been growing on the West and East coasts of the US in recent years, where death doulas (‘death midwives’ who support those who are dying, and their families) are serving growing numbers of Americans.
5. Anti-pollution skincare
More than 90 percent of the world’s population live in places where air quality is dirtier than the World Health Organisation’s guideline limits. Indoor and outdoor air quality is thought to affect our immune systems, lung function, skin, sleep quality and more. In pollution-plagued LA, home air filtration systems are big business, while those on a smaller budget choose houseplants that they hope will clean the air (though claims of plants’ purifying abilities are overhyped).
6. Drug-based therapies
West coast states like California, Oregon and Washington were among the first to legalise marijuana, while Oregon has also legalised psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. Microdosing (taking tiny quantities of LSD and other drugs) began as a niche trend in Silicon Valley, but is increasingly spreading to the rest of the US and the world beyond. Devotees credit microdosing with increased work focus and creativity.
7. Meditation pods
It’s meditation, but better, thanks to Hollywood’s trend for more and more immersive relaxation spaces. LA yoga studios are packed with meditation pods (machines that envelope users in a sound bath of binaural beats and coloured lights), flotation tanks and other devices that cut off the outside world completely.
8. Lip masks
The growing trend for skin minimalism or natural make-up looks calls for investment in great skincare, and that extends to the lips too. Lip masks are increasingly popular with US celebrities looking for smooth and plump lips, without the over-the-top look of fillers.
9. Infra-red heat
Saunas can help boost the immune system, promote glowing, healthy skin and help regular sauna-goers to manage their stress and sleep better. As Covid-19 kept gym bunnies out of their natural habitat, it’s no surprise they turned to home versions. Sauna blankets, mats and even foldable sauna units are booming in popularity across the US.
10. DNA testing and genome mapping
DNA testing and ancestry mapping is hugely popular stateside, with more than 26 million Americans trying at-home DNA testing kits. Now DNA testing is moving from a fun way to find out more about your family background to the cornerstone of better health. DNA testing can help users find out how their hormones might be affecting their weight or fitness levels, among other aspects of our health, though experts urge us to consider the downsides of DNA testing before sending samples off.
11. Plant-based diets
Health-conscious LA has been crowned one of the most vegan-friendly cities on earth, and the rest of the world is catching on, fast. By 2040, some researchers predict that as little as 40 percent of the world’s population will still be eating meat. California has given the world sophisticated substitutes like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers (founded and headquartered in LA and Redwood City respectively). 2021 looks set to offer increasingly healthy and delicious alternatives to animal products.
12. Focus supplements
Move over hair, nail and skin supplements, in 2021 we’re focusing on our focus. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, Eva Mendes and January Jones are fans of cult beauty boutique Violet Grey, where shoppers can pick up natural brain supplements featuring extracts of Lion’s mane mushroom and gingko biloba. Advocates claim that a pill gives all the benefits of a strong coffee, with none of the harmful effects of caffeine.
13. Ear seeds
Ear seeds are having a moment in LA, and the trend looks set to travel. Seeds from the vaccaria plant are used in ancient Chinese medicine, where they’re placed on pressure points around the air and thought to help patients relax, ease pain and improve their circulation. Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop is even selling ear seeds featuring gold and Svarovski crystals!