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Customizable Skin Care

Have it your way.

These days, everyone wants bespoke, from tailored suits to off-the-beaten-track vacations. It’s all about showing off individuality—possessing or doing something that’s truly unique. Now, the trend comes to beauty, and at first glance, it really makes sense: a product that’s mixed to our exact specifications is bound to be better suited to us than some generic formula. Foundation colours are a no-brainer, and Lancôme is first to market with Le Teint Particulier custom-made foundation (at select branches of Nordstrom), blended on the spot after a skin analysis using a special device. Likewise, custom lipstick colours, as evidenced by Canadian brand Bite’s Toronto Lip Lab, are on the rise.

Yet most brands are seeing opportunities in skin care. Traditionally, we choose the most urgent complexion problem, then buy the products that will address it. But what if you have pimples and dark spots, or dehydrated skin that’s also aging? “Bottom line: customizing means you can target your problem more effectively versus off-the-shelf that is one size fits all,” says Dr. Dennis Gross, New York–based dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. His Clinical Concentrate Hydration Booster can be added to a serum or foundation to provide an additional shot of moisture. Brands including Clarins and Dior have also produced boosters to target everything from redness to excess oil.

“Bottom line: customizing means you can target your problem more effectively versus off-the-shelf that is one size fits all,” says Dr. Dennis Gross.

Taking things a step further is Singaporean brand Skin Inc, where you choose and blend three ingredients, and Canada’s Blend and Boost, which creates custom creams after a consultation with a skin-care expert. And finally, there are companies such as GeneU, which claim to tailor skin-care products for you by analyzing your DNA.

Dr. Shannon Humphrey, medical director of Vancouver’s Carruthers & Humphrey Cosmetic Dermatology, can see the appeal of customized skin care. “Consumer demand is through the roof. It’s easy to understand why. Skin is unique, people are biological organisms and there are subtle nuances with each skin. Also, I firmly believe patients have great insight into their own health and wellness, so wanting to have a voice and be an active participant in one’s own health and wellness journey is not only understandable, but it makes sense as well,” she says.

But Humphrey has concerns about the technology behind customized products. “With many of these customized approaches the science is just not there, or if it is, it’s internal marketing data that hasn’t been made available externally to physicians,” she says. And while she believes there’s potential in the DNA analysis approach, she advises caution. “DNA analysis is a very hot topic and worth keeping an eye on, but right now, there’s no sound published data that a DNA analysis will dictate an effective skin-care regimen,” she says. “DNA is our genetic coding but it doesn’t account for where we live, lifestyle, climate, life stress, or our own habits. It’s a small piece of the puzzle that holds promise for the future.”

Here, five recommendations for customizable skin-care products.

Blend and Boost

A consultation with a skin-care assessor is mandatory to create your customized cream. The brand has five cream bases—two textures of anti-aging, moisturizing, oily skin, and sensitive skin—and 13 boosters for everything from deep wrinkles to post-procedure redness. After a questionnaire, your blend of one cream and up to three boosters is created. It’s supposed to fulfill all your skin-care needs, so you don’t need separate serum or eye cream. From $150, at

Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Concentrate Hydration Booster

Containing time-released hyaluronic acid for lasting hydration, antioxidant watermelon extract, and anti-aging Centella asiatica, this can be added to serums or foundations to make them more moisturizing, or used neat on dry patches. $82, at Sephora.

Clarins Boosters

This comes in three varieties: Energy, for fatigued skin; Detox, for congested skin; and Repair, for weakened skin. The one that targets your biggest skin concern can be added into any moisturizer or mask. Clarins advises to use only one of the three at a time, as they’re designed to satisfy a specific need, and mixing them may reduce their efficacy. $40 each, at Clarins counters and

Dior Capture Youth

Start with the brand’s Age-Delay Advanced Crème then add up three drops of one or two serums—the Glow Booster Illuminating Serum, the Plump Filler Plumping Serum, the Matte Maximizer Mattifying Serum, the Lift Sculptor Lifting Serum, or the Redness Soother Anti-Redness Soothing Serum. You can also apply serums directly to the face before cream. $120 each, at Dior counters and online at,,, and

Skin Inc My Daily Dose

Take the online quiz to find out your main skin problems, and answer question on everything from how your skin responds to sun exposure to how much stress you experience. The site will then recommend up to three serums, such as vitamin A for wrinkles, or hyaluronic acid for hydration. These can be blended together or layered, and used around the eye area too. From $46 each, at


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