Made to Measure: How to Customize Your Skincare Routine

From boosters you drop into your moisturizer—basically the beauty equivalent of adding a ginger shot to your green juice—to a custom cocktail of face masks, there are the newest ways to tailor your skincare routine

First there were subscription boxes that personalized your beauty routine by putting together makeup and hair products. Now, there are made-to-order skincare and at-home spa treatments that cater to your skin’s individual needs.

Customized skincare may be old news to pros like Vancouver-based dermatologist Dr. Jason Rivers, who has been offering the service at his clinic for more than a decade. But the desire to supercharge our skincare routines has recently given rise to everything from boosters that you can inject into your moisturizer for extra potency (consider it the beauty equivalent of adding a shot of ginger to your green juice) to face masks that you can cocktail together to address various complexion concerns. Here’s the lowdown.

Target your treatments


Dr. Hauschka Hydrating Cream Mask, $66,; GlamGlow BubbleSheet Oxygenating Deep Cleanse Mask, $12,; Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask, $79,

Whether you need a dose of deep cleansing, exfoliation or hyper-moisturizing, a targeted treatment can help offset your skin woes. New cleansing bubble masks (a K-Beauty fave that activates into a fizzy foam upon contact with skin) use charcoal to deeply clean, while flash facials with anti-aging ingredients smooth lines and get instant results. If you’re looking to raise your bespoke game, try “multi-masking,” where you can wear up to four or five cream masks at the same time. The ritual allows you to zero in on specific concerns. For example, a clay mask will tackle oily T-zones, a brightening vitamin C mask can help fade forehead pigmentation and a hydrating mask makes quick work of rough patches.

Remix your moisturizer 


Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster, $26,; Revitalizing Supreme+ Global Anti-Aging Cell Power Creme, $97,; Custom Face Cream, $150,

Creating a bespoke blend in your bathroom has never been easier, thanks to skin-care boosters designed to take your daily moisturizer to the next level. Boosters, which usually come in dropper form, are concentrated versions of active ingredients like vitamin C (which has the ability to protect against environmental aggressors, as well as reduce the appearance of dark spots and fine lines and boost collagen) and hyaluronic acid (a super-hydrator that plumps up lines and wrinkles), and offer something for every skin type.

To create your own custom blend, add one or two drops into your daily moisturizer, serum or night cream. This will tailor your skin’s treatment, especially on days when it looks and feels extra-parched or tired.

Be wary of the ingredients you’re using, especially in concentrated amounts. “People should know that certain ingredients may cause irritation, inflammation and undesired pigment changes if used indiscriminately,” says Dr. Rivers. “For example, some lightening agents may cause a paradoxical darkening of the skin if the concentration of ingredients is too high.” What’s more, mixing different compounds together may create a product that becomes unstable (breaks down quickly), inactive (one ingredient neutralizes the effect of another) or prone to bacterial/fungal contamination. According to Dr. Rivers, some ingredients to be wary of pairing together in high concentrations are retinol, hydroquinone, salicylic acid and glycolic acid.

Customize your cleanse


Dermalogica Precleanse Balm, $62,; Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel, $13,; Ole Henriksen Wonderfeel Double Cleanser , $39,

With the advent of long-wear makeup like tattoo-covering, full-coverage foundations, 24-hour mascaras and budge-proof liquid lipsticks, a double cleanse (a mainstay in K-Beauty routines) is the best way to get clean skin and provide a fresh canvas for your skin-care products. That’s because oil and makeup residue can be a barrier preventing active ingredients from penetrating into your skin. For a thorough cleanse, start by massaging an oil or balm cleanser onto dry skin to break up makeup, dirt and grime. Next, apply a mild foam cleanser to tighten pores and tone the skin. While the benefit of a two-step cleanse is that you’re not harshly scrubbing your face, Dr. Jaggi Rao, an Edmonton-based dermatologist, cautions against overdoing it. “Skin is not infallible and may cause other problems, such as increased sensitivity or eczema,” says Dr. Rao.

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