Salicylic acid is 2021’s most searched for beauty ingredient

Salicylic acid is the most search for beauty ingredient of 2021, with 73,000 monthly searches, according to new research by cosmetics brand New Nordic.

The research assessed search volume data of 30 popular beauty ingredients from the past year to reveal the top 10 most searched for, with the exfoliating acid coming top. Salicylic acid is ideal for dissolving dead skin cells, revealing a smoother and clearer complexion, as well as keeping pores clear and reducing acne, even helping to prevent future breakouts.

Hyaluronic acid came in second place with 64,000 monthly searches for the skin-plumping and hydrating ingredient. It has anti-wrinkle properties, helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and preventing new lines from developing.

Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B-3, took third place with 59,000 searches. The ingredient can help build proteins in the skin and lock in moisture to prevent environmental damage, minimising the appearance of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles, as well as redness.

Collagen placed fourth in the ranking and retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, finished the top five with 50,000 monthly searches, the report found.

10 most searched for beauty ingredients of 2021:


Rank Ingredient Monthly Search volume
1 Salicylic acid 73,000
2 Hyaluronic acid 64,000
3 Niacinamide 59,000
4 Collagen 58,000
5 Retinol 50,000
6 Aloe vera 49,000
7 Vitamin C 48,000
8 Azeliac acid 32,000
9 Vitamin A 24,000
10 Glycolic acid 19,000

The rise in ingredient searches comes as consumers turn to simple products to make a big impact on their skincare routine, as minimalist skincare – aka “skinimalism”– grows in popularity. 

“Gone are the days of using a generic face wash and moisturiser; many are now much more in tune with what they’re putting on their face, paying attention to every ingredient, hand picking their routines, and checking sustainability and animal cruelty credentials,” said Karl Kristian, founder of New Nordic.

“None of these ingredients that have made the top list are too abrasive or intrusive on your skin when used properly. It’s clear the nation is after simple, easy-to-use exfoliators and acids that remove dead cells, leaving skin clear and more even.

“Thick, abrasive scrubs are no longer as popular now that there has been further education about the delicateness of our epidermis and how to look after it properly.”

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Read our article on “product overload in skincare routines: breaking the vicious cycle”.