Supercharge your skin

Think of skincare boosters as performance enhancers for your favourite serums and moisturisers. CARINA KOH tells you what you need to know about them.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Think of skincare boosters as performance enhancers for your favourite serums and moisturisers. CARINA KOH tells you what you need to know about them.

Main photo
Main photo

As its name suggests, a skincare booster, well, boosts the benefits of your other skincare. Used as the first step in a routine, it purportedly improves the penetration and absorption of the skincare products applied after.

Most boosters have a quick-absorbing serum- or gel-like texture. Choose one with brightening or anti-ageing benefits, depending on your concerns – more bang for your buck, we say. Here, three other things you should know about boosters:

How are they different from serums?

A serum targets specific concerns such as pigmentation and dryness, whereas a booster is designed to improve the efficacy of your existing skincare.

How do they work?

Most boosters focus on improving microcirculation and hydration levels in the skin, which in turn enhance its absorption of the active ingredients in the skincare applied after.

Think of it this way: the skin is like a sponge, and a dry sponge does not absorb as much liquid as a damp one does. Boosters with hydrating ingredients, such as algae and phospholipids (derived from soya), moisten the skin, helping it to better retain and absorb moisture as well as the nutrients from other skincare products.

Also important in boosting the efficacy of skincare is microcirculation. Healthy blood flow helps the body get rid of a build-up of toxins and excess fluid, and promotes better absorption of the active ingredients in your skincare. So when picking out a booster, look out for ingredients that are said to improve microcirculation, such as centella plant and ginkgo biloba.

Do I really need to use one?

We get it, you don’t want to add yet another step to your already complex skincare routine. So here’s the bottom line: Boosters are great if you feel that your existing skincare products aren’t giving you the same excellent results as before. We also like using them when our complexions look dull and lacklustre due to stress or too many late nights.

Five boosters to add to your routine

Cosme Decorte Liposome Treatment Liquid, $157.

This lotion keeps skin hydrated all day, thanks to its slow-release microcapsules containing moisturising active ingredients. I soaked two cotton pads with it and placed them on my cheeks – which are prone to dryness – for two minutes. They looked much plumper afterwards and my skin didn’t feel as tight as before.

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Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX, $60.

Formulated with ingredients commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, such as peony, lotus, and white lily to boost radiance and hydration, this gel has a mild ginseng scent and is absorbed within minutes. My skin looked brighter after two weeks’ use.

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Sisley Sisleya Essential Skin Care Lotion, $200.

This rose-and-citrus-scented lotion has ginkgo biloba to reportedly improve microcirculation. Its milky gel texture is perfect for drier skin types and it left my skin looking more radiant after just one use.

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Lancome Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate, $210.

This lightweight serum has a silky-smooth finish and I noticed that the skincare products used after glided on more easily. The brand’s promise? With continued use, it’ll plump and hydrate skin too, thanks to the probiotic complex in it.

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Elizabeth Arden Superstart Skin Renewal Booster, $95.

I needed only a pea-sized amount of this serum for my entire face. It helped to quell redness and irritation, and made my skin feel smoother. The sea fennel and flaxseed extracts in it are also said to strengthen the skin’s barrier function, so moisture is better retained and active ingredients, better absorbed.

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