Your bathroom cabinet is groaning with moisturisers, you’ve invested in a serum and you slather on SPF on the regular. Basically, you’ve got this skincare regime thing down. Typically, at just about the time when you’ve come around to the odd facial massage session or got your cleansing brush into gear, the beauty industry throws another skincare phenomenon into the mix. One such less known and used (for now) skincare supplement is a booster, so called as it powers up your existing products, adding elements they might be lacking or amplifying their effects. It’s the dermatological equivalent of feeding your skin a green juice or a steaming bowl of chicken soup, depending on the demands of your skin and the season; both are wholesome and healing, but you might not fancy that chook soup in mid August and a green juice just won’t comfort you on a winter’s evening, if you get my meaning. Enough about soup; onto the scoop on skin boosters.
What do they do?
In short, using a booster is pretty much as close as you can come at the moment to tailoring a skincare routine exactly to your requirements. Love your moisturiser but also want to fade acne scars and dark spots? A vitamin C booster will zero in on them. Generally happy with your night cream but need a bit more nourishment when the seasons change? A hyaluronic booster will hike up your hydration levels. Boosters generally don’t come with any bells, whistles or frills; they’re potent, they’re powerful and they’re on call to deal with the particulars. In a nutshell, they’re the specialist, not the GP.
Wait...does this mean I need to add ANOTHER step to these skincare shenanigans?
Possibly, maybe, not necessarily. Unhelpful I know, but it really does depend on your skin type, skin condition and external factors, for instance, the weather. Just as your diet changes with the seasons, it’s likely that your skincare does too, and boosters can tackle environmental skin issues like almost nothing else, and allow you to go ‘bespoke’ on your lotions and potions without having to fork out for a different cream every time the leaves turn. Keep a booster on hand for when you think you’ll need a little help throughout the year and you’ll be in a better position to cope with occasional skin flare ups such as accidental sunburn or periods of sensitivity.
More and more of us are getting savvy about how we treat our skin throughout the year and really getting to grips with its needs in different environments, as recent Mintel research indicates. ‘Seasonality’ has been identified as a key beauty trend, and defending against the emotional and cosmetic shifts that come with changing weather conditions is redefining global beauty routines in a way that goes far beyond a floral spring perfume or wintry, wine hued lipstick. According to Mintel, there’s a gap in the market in this area, and customers are increasingly aware that one size does not fit all in the skincare stakes; for instance 80% of German consumers surveyed expressed that their facial skin needs changed throughout the year, while 48% of Chinese female facial skincare users favoured products from different brands in different seasons.
Vivienne Rudd, Director of Insight, Beauty and Personal Care at Mintel, thinks that the beauty industry is beginning to catch up with consumers’ expectations:
“A new generation of winter care products offer additional care and hydration for the skin. These tend to target dry or very dry skin and mention cold, dry weather. However, the future will see the arrival of boosters that address cold, damp weather as well as the extremes of dryness. Meanwhile, extreme summer conditions are calling for products which protect the skin from heat and humidity as well as UV damage, and which build up resilience against the forthcoming autumnal changes.”
“Seasonal approaches in beauty also extend to ingredients harvested at the most opportune time, while seasonal boosters and complementary teas and tonics will join mainstream collections.”
Prescriptive boosters are already jostling for bathroom glory with our more classic skincare staples, and the fact that they make everything else we use work so much more effectively makes them worth including in our book.
When should I use them?
Again, it depends on your booster weapon of choice, but most can be applied directly to skin post cleansing or mixed with your serum or moisturiser to add another string to their bow. The only thing that you shouldn’t mix them into is your SPF, as your sunscreen should be the last thing that you apply to your skin before makeup (if you’re wearing any) and nothing should compromise it’s UVA and UVB shielding talents. A high SPF becomes especially vital if you’re dabbling in a vitamin A (retinol) booster. It might be better to apply retinol once or twice a week at nighttime, as sunlight can affect its efficacy and the potential irritation that can result from initial application can make skin more prone to burning and sun damage if you swan around unprotected.
What boosters should I use?
You’re going to hate me, but it depends. Expert facialist and skin expert Debbie Thomas thinks that we could all do with a few extra antioxidants in our regimes, however:
“If there is one thing I try to get all my clients to use, it’s a high quality antioxidant daily; this would be my ideal skin booster. A good, well formulated antioxidant neutralises free radical damage in the skin. What does that mean? Free radical damage is when a healthy cell becomes damaged, this damaged cell then tries to repair itself by stealing a bit of the cell next to it. However this doesn't actually allow the cell to heal, rather it has now damaged the other cells around it, which in turn damages further cells trying to fix themselves. This Mexican wave effect can be intercepted by antioxidants, which can't repair the cells but do neutralise them, preventing them from damaging further cells. What this means for our skin is less weakening of damaged cells and therefore less ageing.”
“Now unfortunately not all antioxidants are made equal. If you don't have the right formulation, in a high enough dose, then the benefits are going to be minimal or non existent.”