Exactly When And How To Use A Skin Booster

Exactly When And How To Use A Skin Booster

Exactly When And How To Use A Skin Booster

Written By FIORELLA VALDESOLO

Photography ByGUY AROCH

There’s no denying that we are living in a time of peak skin care with burgeoning new categories—CBD! personalized formulas! high-tech wearables!—that are changing the future of our beauty routines as we know them. One of the fastest growing innovations, concentrated add-ons like plumping treatment drops and antioxidant-rich concentrates, are designed to supercharge skin when mixed with your favorite moisturizer or face mask. Ahead, we asked a few pros for their take on how to make the most out of them.

FIRST, WHAT IS A BOOSTER ANYWAY?

“While most skin care products focus on overall epidermal health, boosters are concentrated formulas that address specific concerns such as pigmentation, dehydration or breakouts,” says London-based cosmetic surgeon and founder of 111SKIN Yannis Alexandrides, M.D. New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D. adds that “boosters contain a high concentration of a single ingredient,” which means they’re designed to be slotted into your existing skin care routine to target issues as—and when—they arise.

WHAT WILL BOOSTERS DO FOR ME?

Simply put, adding a booster is a way to turbocharge your skin care routine. “Boosters stimulate the skin with active ingredients and provide immediate effects,” says celebrity facialist Joanna Czech, whose favorite booster ingredients are hyaluronic acid, AHA’s and NMF’s (Natural Moisturizing Factors). “They also enhance the activity of every product that you follow them with.” Because they can be mixed into your go-to moisturizer, boosters also add value. “This is especially true if the seasons are transitioning or hormonal shifts that affect the skin or other changes require a little extra attention than your normal regimen provides,” adds Dr. Engelman. Makeup artist Carola Gonzalez’s most-used booster on her clients: vitamin C. “It provides a rejuvenating effect by improving the production of collagen, providing antioxidant protection, tightening, and helping to lighten hyperpigmentation,” she adds.

HOW DO WE BOOST?

“Boosters are perhaps the most flexible of all skin care products,” says Dr. Alexandrides. It can be used alone or mixed with serums, emulsions, or moisturizers. To incorporate a booster into your regimen, follow the age-old rule (as illuminated in many a meme) of applying your products from lightest to most viscous. As Czech specifies: cleanser, toner, booster, serum, then moisturizer.

ANY BOOSTING RULES TO KNOW?

Just as with any product centered around a concentrated active ingredient, it’s important to not be too overzealous to avoid potential irritation. “Many active ingredients also require different pH levels to properly function, which can often clash when you combine several potent products together,” says Dr. Alexandrides who usually suggests focusing on one issue in the morning and another in the evening. Dr. Engelman says there are certain ingredient combinations that may be best to steer clear of entirely like citric acid and vitamin C (“They destabilize each other,” she says), and retinol and glycolic or lactic acid. “While they don’t deactivate each other, using a retinol with a BHA, can increase sensitivity and dryness,” she explains. “It’s important to not be using too many active products that could be overworking the skin and breaking down the bonds of healthy cells, or thinning it, leaving it more vulnerable.” Alternately, there are some boosters that are better together, like retinol and hyaluronic acid. “Retinoids help accelerate turnover, pushing younger cells to the skin's surface,” says Engelman. “They are fantastic for anti-aging, but can be irritating and induce skin peeling. Adding in hyaluronic acid will help hydrate, combating the downsides of the retinoid.”