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The Difference Between Boosters and Serums

The Difference Between Boosters and Serums

Skin-Transforming Boosters & Serums

Skin is complicated. It’s the largest organ of the body with unique needs and concerns, so as much as we wish we could say skincare is simple, it’s not true. What is true is that you can use research-supported products to address more dramatic changes—and with our targeted solutions, you will see stunning results. But what do we mean by "targeted solutions"? Great question!

Because of our dedication to give you meaningful, effective skincare that can be tailored to your exact needs, we’ve created several specialised products with concentrated ingredients—what we often refer to as "targeted solutions." Just as the name states, these products allow you to hone in on specific concerns (like large pores, uneven skin tone, and dehydration) and solve the problem, often sooner than you might think (we love that part)!

Even if you are using a great skincare routine that includes the most important essential products like cleanser, toner, exfoliant, daytime moisturiser with SPF, and a nighttime moisturiser, your skin often requires more to address your specific concerns. It can be easy to dismiss such products, but adding the right ones to your routine can truly exceed your expectations. This is the big league, and your skin is the star player!

What Are the Differences Between Boosters & Serums?

At first blush, the differences between our Boosters and Serums seem subtle, but on closer examination you will see how the nuances are incredibly important for your skin type and concerns. This information will help you distinguish between these unique products and find out how Paula’s Choice Skincare formulates them with the utmost attention to providing solutions to your skin’s needs.

It’s important to note that other skincare companies may interpret or formulate their "boosters" and "serums" differently than we do. Like so many aspects of the cosmetics industry, product categories are rarely universal. In other words, we don’t recommend you use our descriptions to explain what any other product with the same category names might actually contain.


Our Anti-Ageing Boosters are products that contain exclusive concentrations of a single, pivotal ingredient for skin. They include our RESIST C15 Super Booster, RESIST 1% Retinol Booster, RESIST Hyaluronic Booster, or our RESIST 10% Niacinamide Booster. Along with a higher concentration of one superstar ingredient, each booster also contains an advanced combination of beneficial ingredients (no matter how good it may be, one ingredient is never enough).

Our RESIST Moisture Renewal Oil Booster only includes oils, but features a proprietary blend of nine non-fragranced plant oils whose enriching properties combine for enhanced skin- smoothing results that put an end to dry, flaky skin.

These ingredients are exceptional for skin in so many ways! We also use them in many of our other products, but they offer heightened results when used in higher concentrations for more stubborn or frustrating skincare concerns.

The evolving research leaves no doubt that these targeted ingredients can turn your skin around, solving many issues you may have thought you just had to accept or cover with makeup.

Each Booster has a wonderfully lightweight texture, so they work perfectly with the other products you’re using. In fact, we formulated each booster to mix easily with your moisturiser and other targeted solutions you may be using, or they can be applied alone, as a separate step. Each booster can also be used around the eyes and they’re compatible with any eye cream.


Our serums are designed to work in synergy with your moisturiser by supplying an additional blend of potent antioxidants, skin-replenishing, and restorative ingredients. The special characteristic of our serums is their concentration of these critical, supportive ingredients skin of any age needs.

In addition, our serums also have distinctive textures appropriate for different skin types. We offer lightweight, fluid formulas for normal to oily or combination skin and more emollient, silky, protective-feeling textures for normal to dry skin.

Whether we’re talking about boosters or serums, it's important to know that they don’t necessarily replace your nighttime moisturiser. Each type of product can exert its benefits perfectly when worn under a moisturiser. However, for some people, especially those with oily to combination skin, a booster or serum can work fine all by themselves or when layered one over the other without a separate moisturiser step. That’s because all of our boosters and serums also contain lightweight hydrating ingredients.

Also important: Although these specialty products work brilliantly during the day, they absolutely do not replace the need for daily sun protection. Your daytime sunscreen step will continue to be essential.

How to Add Them to Your Skincare Routine

There are many ways to start using one or more of our Boosters or Serums. These are the some of the most versatile skincare products we’ve ever created! They can be layered in any fashion every day, or used on alternate days, or you can apply one or more in the morning and different ones at night. There really is no single right way; everything is adaptable as you develop the method and frequency of application that works just for you.

The routine below is a step-by-step example of how you could add one or more of our Boosters or Serums into your morning and evening skincare routines. The most important thing to remember is that your last step for morning is to apply your sunscreen. No other skincare product should be mixed with your sunscreen; doing so dilutes its effectiveness.

Morning and Night

  • Step 1: Cleanse
  • Step 2: Tone
  • Step 3: Apply an AHA or BHA exfoliant (can also be used once a day, AM or PM)
  • Step 4: Apply one or more Booster products
  • Step 5: Apply a Serum
  • Step 6: During the day apply a skin type-appropriate sunscreen; at night, apply your moisturiser.

References for this information:

Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2016, pages 49-57; December 2012, pages 310-317; and December 2006, pages 309-315
Phytochemistry Letters, July 2016, pages 35-40
Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, September 2015, pages 74-82
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2005, pages 243-249; and October 2004, pages 231-238
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 107-29
Indian Journal of Dermatology, May-June 2016, pages 279-287
Indian Dermatology Online Journal, April-June 2013, pages 143-146
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, October 2005, pages 826-832
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, February 2000, pages 21-52
Phytotherapy Research, August 2015, pages 1117-22; and February 2014, pages 159-66


About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!