What ‘Skin Boosters’ Truly Are—and How to Master Them

What ‘Skin Boosters’ Truly Are—and How to Master Them
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We all love the idea of DIY skin care. But homemade farm-to-face products can seriously mess with skin’s zen: redness, flaking—trust us, we’ve learned the hard way. Which is why new-to-market skin boosters have us confidently playing cosmetic chemist with abandon.

Formulated as the Western world’s answer to ampoules (K-beauty serums on steroids that deliver concentrated active ingredients), skin boosters help target whichever skin concern rears its ugly head on any given day and are made to work in conjunction with our beloved skin care and makeup products.

“When added to your other products, [boosters] will not change the product’s inherent chemistry,” says dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross of the boosters he’s devised for his namesake skin care line. “So you get the added benefit of the booster without compromising the benefits of the product you’re boosting.”

Just like adding super nutrients like matcha or bee pollen to smoothies, we can now create custom hydrating, acne-clearing, pollution-fighting, antiaging, brightening and/or firming formulas for our faces by mixing a few drops of boosters into our go-to skin care or makeup products.

And according to cosmetic surgeon and 111Skin founder Dr. Yannis Alexandrides, a modern girl’s globe-trotting lifestyle requires on-demand skin care: “With changing temperatures and environmental pollution, customized skin care has never been more necessary to ensure that skin remains in optimal health.”

Cover FX's Custom Infusion Drops. Courtesy Cover FX

Cover FX’s Custom Infusion Drops. Courtesy Cover FX

What’s more, these high-concentration formulas mimic those used in aesthetic dermatologists’ offices, notes Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy, a Miami-based cosmetic dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, where she teaches minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures in a senior resident clinic. “This is the new frontier of Fraxel laser therapy,” she says of the treatment that disrupts skin to provoke collagen production. “Many aesthetic dermatologists enhance results with these high-concentration moisturizer-serum booster combos.”

Another essential boosting tip? Be proactive, says Dr. Alexandrides. “By the time skin is showing signs of damage and poor health, it has already been exposed to elements or affected by internal imbalances. The ideal scenario is to preempt environmental or physical changes before they occur,” he explains. That means adding a few drops of a hydrating booster to a moisturizer, serum or directly to skin a few days before embarking on plane travel or adding a pollution-fighting antioxidant booster to skin care and makeup before heading out in city traffic.

Finally, boosting can be used to make makeup nutrient-rich. Dr. Gross advocates adding a few drops of skin-clearing booster to liquid blush to help prevent plugged pores; he also encourages adding hydrating boosters to lip gloss to battle wind-chapped lips. Similarly, Derek Selby, a makeup artist and the international director of artistry for Cover FX, suggests adding one to three booster drops to any liquid or mousse foundation for an all-over charge. “It can make foundation silkier and give skin a bit more dewiness, which is a great trick for going into winter,” he says. “Otherwise, for maximum coverage, use a little more foundation than normal when adding boosters, since they can water down coverage.”

Ready to become a mixologist yourself? Click through the slideshow to find boosters suited for every skin concern and for additional blending tips from skin and makeup pros.

MORE: Avoid These 9 Winter Skin Mistakes

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These 9 skin boosters will help a range of skin issues. Find the one you need.

Photo: MustacheGirl/GettyImages

Cold temperatures often mean dryer skin. This booster is made with moisturizing aloe, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid—something Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy sites as a best-pick hydrating ingredient. (111 Space Aqua Booster, $160; at Barneys)

Photo: Barneys

Not all boosters come in liquid or gel form. This 100 percent vitamin C dust, which is packaged like a mini translucent powder, can be added to moisturizers, serums, and liquid makeup to break up hyperpigmentation and brighten the skin. (CosMedix Pure C Mixing Crystals, $53; at CosMedix)

Photo: CosMedix

This vitamin-rich booster with essential oil is made by Cover FX, a company with custom-mixing in its DNA (its foundations are designed to combine). “Makeup, primers, serums—this will mix with any oil-, water- or silicone-based cosmetic or skin care product,” notes makeup pro Derek Selby. This blend’s vitamin F (linoleic acid) helps target wounded, acne-prone, or post-surgical skin (Cover FX Custom Infusion Drops F + Neroli, $48; at Cover FX)

Photo: Cover FX

This water-free formula contains resveratrol (a botanical-derived antioxidant that helps with cellular repair) and exfoliating acids to help rid the skin of dead cells and induce glow. (Dr. Gross Clinical Concentrate Radiance Booster, $68; at Sephora)

Photo: Sephora

Made with acne-addressing probiotics and ceramides, which help skin retain its moisture, this booster is designed to be used before serums and moisturizers to boost their efficacy. (Elizabeth Arden Superstart Skin Renewal Booster, $65; at Elizabeth Arden)

Thanks to roucou extract, lycopene, and seaberry oil, the cocktail of antioxidants in this oil-rich booster offer a fortified way to fight pollution and free radicals—making it a good a.m. choice before battling city streets. (Fresh Seaberry Skin Nutrition Booster, $45; at Fresh)

Photo: Fresh

This antiaging booster offers an arsenal of researched actives—copper, peptides, plankton, licorice root extract, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and a bevy of fruit extracts—that can help brighten skin, stimulate healing, and build collagen. (La Prairie Anti-Aging Rapid Response Booster, $290; at La Prairie)

Photo: La Prairie

Outside of SPF, retinol is the most heralded of skin care ingredients for its ability to address fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and acne. Double down on the boosting abilities of this peptide- and retinol-laced concentrate by using it in the evening, when skin is more likely to benefit from the active ingredient. (Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-aging 1% Retinol Booster, $50; at Paula's Choice)

Photo: Paula's Choice

Benzoyl peroxide has long been a derm favorite for fighting acne. This solution, which includes 5 percent benzoyl peroxide, can one-up a mattifying primer’s ability to take down excess oil by adding antibacterial benefits to boot. (Dermalogica Special Clearing Booster, $46; at Dermalogica)

Photo: Dermalogica

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