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LESSONS:

BOOSTERS &
CONCENTRATES
101

Innovative formulas that are like a double wheatgrass shot for your face.


Written ByFIORELLA VALDESOLO

Photography ByGUY AROCH


There’s no denying that we are living in a time of peak skin care with burgeoning new categories (Personalized formulas! High-tech wearables! Microbiome-friendly!) that are changing the future of our beauty routines as we know them. Two of the fastest growing innovations are concentrates and boosters, designed to infuse your skin with high doses of active ingredients to supercharge skin. Both can come in the form of drops and serums (and sometimes powders) the only true difference being that when it comes to 111Skin’s concentrates, they are 7-day intensive treatments whereas boosters can be used daily and separately from the concentrates. Ahead, we asked a few pros for their take on how to make the most out of these revolutionary innovations.


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. If you are using boosters that are mixed into day and night creams, be sure to use a hydrating, silky formula like 111Skin’s Y Theorem Day Cream NAC Y².


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.

Dr. Alexandrides’ 111Skin concentrates are meant to be used 7-days in a row underneath the 111Skin’s Y Theorem Day Cream NAC Y² (and in lieu of your usual booster which you would return to using following the 7-day concentrate treatment). 

 

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.” Alternatively, 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.”