The Ingredient Booster You Need for Every Annoying Skin Concern

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Skin Boosters - Lead
Photo: Nastassia Yakushevich/Alamy Stock Photo

There are so many miracle ingredients out in the beauty space, and while that's a great thing, finding what will work for you and your concerns can be a very daunting task. Believe me, I get it. I used to not be able to walk into Sephora unless I was in a safe mental state or I would get stressed out and cry. Not cute.

Anyway, in the hopes of you being less stressed out, because we all need that, we set out with the task of finding out what ingredients you should reach for to address specific concerns. It's like bespoke beauty, but with the knowledge that you are actually addressing your own needs effectively. Read on to find out the pearls of wisdom we gained from talking to some of the best skin doctors in the biz.


According to Dr. Shereene Idriss, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology, caffeine is a great topical for reducing redness. "Caffeine when applied topically, is wonderful at temporarily shrinking unsightly superficial blood vessels, which in turn temporarily reduces the appearance of flushed skin," she says. She even goes so far as to suggest First Aid Beauty Redness Relief ($36; as her caffeine treatment of choice because it combines both caffeine and sulfur, which acts as an extra powerful anti-inflammatory.

Uneven Texture

According to Dr. Idriss, even texture is the holy grail of good skin. So if you're chasing the holy grail like this lil' lady, here's what Dr. Idriss suggests adding to your routine consistently. "Exfoliating 2-3 times a week with certain acids, such as glycolic acid, is an excellent way to remove build-up by gently clearing up toxins and makeup that have accumulated on the surface."

This is great because we happen to swear by Pixi Glow Tonic ($15; for just this reason.

"More importantly, using a prescription strength retinoid at night allows the skin to regenerate more evenly by unclogging pores and clearing up dead skin cells," she continues. "Certain products, such as Skin Better Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream, combine both an acid (alpha hydroxy acid) and a retinoid. This is a great combination as the rejuvenation effects are amplified by maximizing the potential of each ingredient."

Dark Spots

If you are a human with limited self-control like me, you probably have some dark spots because you picked at a pimple, or you might just have sun damage. It's OK though because a little thing called vitamin C is here to help you fight those little suckers.

"Vitamin C can help to boost the benefits of other ingredients in your regimen—remember, there is no magic bullet to cure all skin concerns," says Dr. Dennis Gross. "It's about finding that balance and synergy to achieve the best skin results—this is my approach when formulating all my products."

He continues by saying he loves this ingredient because it helps break up pigmentation problems, but also prevents dark spots from forming in the future. In addition, Dr. Gross says it helps build collagen and firm skin.

If that doesn't sell you on vitamin C, I don't know what will. What I can say is these days I have been using True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster ($95;, which comes in a powder form and it's the most effective vitamin C treatment I've ever used.

Oiliness and Acne

According to Dr. Gross, sulfur is a fantastic ingredient for those who have oily or acne-prone skin. "Sulfur controls the oil that feeds bacteria, thus reducing spots altogether. Sulfur also calms through osmosis to relieve swelling and draws out the infection to flatten the blemish. The fastest way to quell an existing blemish is by using a sulfur-based medication, such as the Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask, ($15; which dries out the spot," Dr. Gross notes.

That will appeal to anyone who has woken up to Mount Vesuvius erupting on their forehead. Been there, done that. Next time we fight back with sulfur.

Of course, it's never a bad idea to take a trip to the derm and talk to a pro about what you're using and exactly what they suggest you add into your routine. Knowledge is skin power, people.

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