If ageing, acne, sensitivity, dullness or pretty much any specific skincare concern is bothering you, you may well want to add one to your repertoire. Here’s the brief on boosters...

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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.”

“One of my top antioxidant products is  SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic , £129. It’s honestly the godfather of antioxidants. It’s pricey, but the reparative effects ensures that you’re getting your money’s worth. Another cleverly formulated vitamin C based option is dermatologist developed  Exuviance Vitamin C+ Anti-Ageing Booster , £57.95, which is a pure ascorbic acid antioxidant in an anhydrous powder that you simply sprinkle into a serum. It’s ideal if you don't like layering products and it really tackles pigmentation.”

Of course vitamin C isn’t the only beneficial booster on the block; there’s an army of skin agents out there to get to the nitty gritty of your skin’s needs:

The alternative antioxidant

It’s what makes red wine “healthy” and dark chocolate practically nutritious, and some studies have shown that  antioxidant resveratrol  could potentially have greater cellular damage prevention and anti-ageing effects than both vitamins C and E. Combine a booster such as  DHC Resveratrol Essence , £43, with vitamins C and E and you’re onto a winner. Think enhanced collagen synthesis and a more resilient skin barrier, which means that, essentially, you’ve got more chance of keeping the good stuff in (moisture) and the bad stuff out (UV damage).

The sensitivity settler

Basically a tiny, white fire engine that’s on hand to cool and calm inflamed, hot skin,  Dermalogica Gentle Soothing Booster , £46.60, brings down irritation thanks to gentle chamomile and cornflower extracts, while the addition of honey replenishes moisture levels when skin is quite literally red raw. You can spot apply to particular areas of sensitivity or apply all over to provide an extra layer of defence under moisturiser. I can imagine that it would come into its own on a ski trip or summer holiday.

The blemish beater

If you’re putting up with dull, congested, blotchy skin, no matter how many unctions or spot fighters you’re throwing at the problem,  Skinesis Overnight Exfoliating Booster , £58, should help to both clear and soften skin, not to mention reduce the appearance of lines. As the name implies, it exfoliates the skin with none of the dragging or abrasion of physical exfoliators (salicylic acid also helps to bust spots and “shrink” pores), while anti-ageing hero ingredient retinol encourages cells to act ‘younger’. An as an extra step before your serum or night cream and you’ll likely notice a smoother texture and more even appearance over time.

The organic one

Rich in vitamin E and organic botanical oils,  MV Organics Rose Plus Booster , £70, is undoubtedly spendy but it’s sure to balance stressed skin, even though it could potentially cause stress on the bank balance front. Take a few deep breaths and take the plunge if you can afford it; you only need a drop or two per application and the purity of the ingredients are top notch, especially in the case of rare rose otto. If you want to make it go further, you can mix it with a facial spritz, toner or your moisturiser, and it’s a particular godsend if you’re prone to hormonal breakouts, rosacea or sensitivity, as rosehip oil within the formulation simultaneously calms, strengthens and fades scarring with continued use.

The glow giver

I’ve just started using this so time will tell whether is turns me into a golden Gisele type, but the premise of  Hylamide Booster Glow , £15, is certainly impressive. Part of the brand’s booster series, this particular vial aims to create a sunkissed wash of colour with none of the damage or irritiation associated with traditional DHA based tanning formulations.  Ye olde DHA has been known to cause me problems , so I find this nifty innovation particularly exciting. Instead of drying and potentially ageing DHA, it harnesses the power of melanin stimulating peptides and a keto-sugar reaction to create the illusion of a week in Nice or similar. Add before moisturiser or makeup, and for a more intense result in less time, smooth onto skin twice a day. A longer lasting glow without either a chemical or UV sting is most definitely the future from where I’m standing. Quite possibly the stuff of dreams, but I’ll keep you posted.

Are you temped to introduce a booster into your skincare routine? If so, what type of product would you go for? Comment below or  tweet us.

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