This Is the *Correct* Amount of Each Skin-Care Product to Use
From serums to moisturizers, we got the experts to share their recommendations.
In the world of skin care, there’s a lot of talk about the order in which you’re supposed to apply your products (they should layer from the thinnest to thickest formula, FYI). But if you’ve ever tried to rub in an excessive amount of product only to be met with a pilling mess, you know that the amount of each product to use is equally as important. According to celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar, skin-care serving sizes can vary from one product to another because of their texture. “A single drop of oil can spread over a large area of skin, while a drop of a thick cream would only cover half the forehead,” she explains.
Additionally, different skin-care products have different concentrations of active ingredients. While many of us will do whatever we can to keep our skin free of acne, hyperpigmentation, or any other ailment, it’s important to be cautious with how much product you’re using in order to avoid irritating the skin’s natural barrier. Bottom line: Using too much product can be not only ineffective and a waste of product, but actually cause skin irritation, redness, and oily residue, too. We tapped Aguilar as well as a board-certified dermatologist to give us some answers on exactly how much of each product we should be using.
HOW TO KNOW YOU’RE USING TOO MUCH (OR TOO LITTLE)
According to Dr. Marisa Garshick, a telltale sign you’re using too much of a product is how your skin is reacting—namely, if you’re experiencing a bout of dry, red, patchy, and sensitive skin. “Certain oils or thicker moisturizing ointments can be too occlusive and may lead to clogged pores if too much is used,” she explains. You’ll know you’re using too much when the product moves around the skin and doesn’t actually sink in.
Similarly, if you’ve ever felt like your skin-care products aren’t “working,” or you find yourself spending too much time getting the product to absorb into the skin, it could be an issue of your dosage. While you should aim to use your products before they oxidize (or expire), it’s always better to under-apply than over-apply. Garshick recommends easing your skin into the product by using a lesser amount to start. “Many products only require a pea-sized or pearl-sized amount for the whole face, so it is important to remember that often less is more,” she says.
HOW MUCH PRODUCT TO USE
The amount of cleanser to use will vary according to the formulation as well as how much makeup you wear. In general, a dime- to nickel-sized amount is enough, but if you’re using a foam cleanser, one pump should suffice. If you’re a heavy makeup wearer, it may be best to double-cleanse with a micellar water and a facial cleanser to get rid of all traces of makeup.
Most derms and aestheticians will recommend using a chemical exfoliator over a physical scrub—there’s less risk of causing microtears in the skin. An AHA or BHA formula will gently slough off dead skin cells, buildup, and oil, and help reveal a brighter, smoother complexion. Garshick recommends using a dime-sized amount, but if you’re applying with a cotton pad, the amount can vary. If you still prefer the feel of a scrub, stick with smaller particles, and use gentle pressure when massaging the product over your face.
“Besides refreshing our skin and balancing our pH, toners can also wipe away residual cleanser and makeup as well as chlorine present in tap water,” says Aguilar. When it comes to toner, the method of application is all about preference—while some prefer to spray it directly onto their face, others prefer to use a cotton pad. Says Aguilar, “If one chooses to spray, I recommend two to three spritzes and then gently patting the skin. If a cotton pad is preferred, I would recommend six spritzes to get a moist wipe.”
Facial serums contain high concentrations of active ingredients, so it’s important to be mindful of how much you’re applying. A pea-sized amount of serum should suffice, which, depending on the product consistency, may equate to two to three drops. A good rule of thumb: You should have a thin, sheer layer of serum on, just enough that doesn’t require rubbing in.
Less tends to be more when it comes to eye cream, as you’ll want to be mindful of vigorous rubbing around the delicate skin in this area. A pea-sized amount should be sufficient to cover the skin around the eyes. “I usually go lighter with eye cream during the day, as our skin wakes up [already] hydrated, and I use more eye cream at night since we go to bed our driest and our skin rebuilds itself from the day’s damage,” says Aguilar. You should also remember to apply skin-care products based on their thickness. “If your eye cream is richer than your moisturizer, it should go on last, and if your eye cream is as light as a serum, it should be applied before your moisturizer,” she notes.
All skin types should use moisturizer—oily included. That said, the type of formula used (as well as how much to apply) will vary according to your skin type. “I always recommend starting off with a blueberry-sized serving to cover your face, neck, and chest—drier skin might need a larger blueberry, while oily skin might need a smaller berry. Either way, start off small, and quickly you will learn how much you will need just by the feel,” says Aguilar.
DON’T FORGET TO SHOP OUR PICKS:
Monat Be Gentle Creamy Cleanser
A pea-sized amount of this cleanser emulsified between your hands is all you need to reap its refreshing, conditioning benefits. Made with AHAs and a soothing complex of ginger root and bisabolol, it’s gentle enough to use on even the most sensitive skin types.
Lush Cup O’ Coffee Face and Body Mask
Start on damp skin before working a pea-sized amount of this stimulating face scrub onto a small area of the face. Rather than using two hands to scrub the face, Aguilar recommends using two fingers and working in sections to get all those hard-to-reach areas like the corners of the nose and upper lip.
Edible Beauty No. 2 Citrus Rhapsody Toner Mist
Tired nights call for an easy-to-apply toner like this one from Edible Beauty Australia, which is conveniently packaged in a spray form. It’s non-drying and uplifting, all while boasting a citrusy, non-overbearing scent.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair
Use it day or night—one drop full of this hyaluronic-acid-infused serum promises 72-hour hydration and eight-hour antioxidant protection. Apply it in a heart shape around the face for a wake-me-up ritual in the AM.
Melach 33 Nourishing Eye Cream
This ultra-rich eye cream utilizes the revitalizing benefits of Dead Sea minerals and antioxidant-rich plant oils. Apply a small amount underneath concealer for a hydrated finish and at night for radiant eyes come morning.
Want more stories like this?