The Difference Between Boosters and Serums

The Difference Between Boosters and Serums

Even if you use a great skincare routine that includes the most important products like cleanser, toner, exfoliant, daytime moisturiser with SPF, and a nighttime moisturiser, skin can require more to address specific concerns. Because of our dedication to give you effective skincare you can customise to your exact needs, we’ve created several specialised products with concentrated ingredients. 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)! Those products include our boosters and serums.

What Is the Difference Between Boosters & Essences?

At first blush, the differences between our Boosters and Serums might seem subtle, but closer examination reveals the nuances are incredibly important for certain skin types and concerns. Keep in mind that other skincare companies may interpret or formulate their "boosters" and "serums" differently than we do. Product categories within the cosmetic industry are rarely universal. Because of this, we don’t recommend using our descriptions to determine what any other product with the same category name might contain or do for your skin.


Our Boosters contain exclusive concentrations of a single, pivotal ingredient for skin. They include our C15 Super Booster,C25 Super Booster, 1% Retinol Booster, Hyaluronic Booster, 10% Niacinamide Booster, 10% Azelaic Acid Booster, and Peptide Booster. Along with a higher concentration of one superstar ingredient, each booster also contains an advanced combination of beneficial ingredients that support the main ingredient. Our Moisture Renewal Oil Booster features a proprietary blend of nine non-fragranced plant oils whose enriching properties quickly deliver skin-smoothing results that put an end to dry, flaky skin.

Many of these exceptional ingredients are used in 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 problems you may have thought you just had to accept or cover with makeup.

Each booster was designed to be lightweight and layer or mix easily with your moisturiser and other products you use. The boosters can be applied alone, as a separate step, and can also be used around the eyes, with or without a separate eye-area product.


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.

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 textures for normal to dry skin. All skin types can use our Retinol Serum.

Can a booster or serum replace your nighttime moisturizer? Perhaps! Each type of product can work 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. Our boosters and serums contain the lightweight hydrating ingredients even those with oily or slightly dry skin need.

How to Add a Booster or Serum to Your Skincare Routine

Our Boosters and Serums are made to be versatile! They can be layered in any fashion once or twice per 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 you discover works best.

The routine below is a step-by-step example of how you could add one or more of these products to your morning and evening skincare routines. Just be sure that your last skincare step each morning is your sunscreen.

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, going from lightest to heaviest texture

Step 5: Apply serum

Step 6: During the day, apply a skin type-appropriate sunscreen; at night, apply your moisturiser

Step 7: At night, apply an eye-area product, if desired

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

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!