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Here’s an overlooked skincare habit that may compromise the benefits of your skincare products. And that is using more or less than the right amount. If you’re not sure how much skincare product you should use, things can go either way. When you use more than you should, you can cause pilling where products simply sit on top of each other. Similarly, when you use less product than you should, you’ll get unsatisfactory results where it takes longer for your skincare to work. And this is true for all products like eye creams, face serums, moisturizers, and toners!
But the problem with the amount of each skincare product to use is the lack of reliable information. There’s no definitive guide to this. And trust me, I looked into it.
Moreover, even the products we use don’t have clear instructions on them but more like vague suggestions like “a generous amount” or “a small amount”.
However, be it a serum or an eye cream, there’s a general consensus around the correct amount of each skincare product to use. It’s like a social contract where the origin is not clear but the rules seem to work in favor of all.
Personally, I love skincare capsules and skin ampoules because of this. They’re single-use products. So you know how much you’re supposed to use. But not everything comes in capsules. Even if they did, it’d be expensive.
To clear the air, I’ve put together this guide on the right amount of each skincare product you should be using. Keep reading to find out how much cleanser, serum, moisturizer, and toner you should use.
How Much Cleanser To Use
Face cleansing is an essential step in any skincare routine. So your cleanser is your most frequently used skincare product. And using too much of your cleanser will simply be a waste of your money.
Additionally, if it’s an exfoliating cleanser, it has the potential to irritate your skin. On the flip side, if you use less of your cleanser, it won’t satisfyingly cover your whole face and cleanse your skin. Here’s what you do.
If you’re using a regular gel cleanser or a foaming cleanser, a nickel-sized amount is enough to wash your face clean. A nickel-sized roughly translates to half a tablespoon. If your cleanser comes in a pump dispenser, one full pump is enough for a thorough cleanse.
If you’ve used Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost cleanser, that bottle has a long neck, which squirts out a satisfying amount with one pump. But for cleanser bottles with short necks, you can try two full pumps to cleanse your skin.
If you’re double cleansing where you remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser first, the amount will depend on the texture.
But generally, oil-based cleansers are thicker. So unlike a regular cleanser, an oil cleanser won’t thin out. It’ll still feel thick as you rub it in. So you don’t need as much.
Cleansing oils usually have pump dispensers. So one full pump of an oil cleanser is enough to dissolve your makeup. If you’re using a cleansing balm, which is solid and comes in a jar, use a dime-sized amount.
If you’re using a micellar cleanser, which is a liquid and requires pads, use a saturated cotton pad to remove your makeup. This is something you can figure out as you remove makeup because micellar waters require several pads.
In the end, you should feel your cleanser evenly on your skin where you’ve comfortably coated every single area. If your cleanser foams up more than usual, that’s a good sign you’ve used more than you need to.
How Much Toner To Use
Toners are liquid-based skincare products. For toners, it’s more about the ingredients rather than texture. When you overuse a basic hydrating toner, the worst thing that can happen is pilling where products simply roll up and rub off your skin. But an exfoliating toner, when overused, can irritate and cause sensitivity.
If you’re using a cotton pad for your toner, 3-5 drops of your toner should wet the center of the pad and be enough to spread all over your face. Cotton pads make it easier to evenly distribute the product because you can use the other side of the pad too.
If you’re using your hands to apply your toner, get 3-5 drops of your toner into your palm and gently pat it onto your face covering your cheeks, forehead, and chin avoiding the eye area.
If your toner is a mist, 3 sprits should be enough to evenly cover your whole face. In the end, you should have satisfyingly damp skin.
How Much Serum To Use
Face serums are among the most effective skincare products. You can use them to treat several of your skin issues or simply for maintenance. Serums can be oil-based but they’re more frequently water-based.
Some have a very liquidy texture whereas some have a goopy texture, and some have a lotion-like texture. But they’re extremely concentrated and a small amount goes a long way.
But texture doesn’t really factor into how much serum you should use, the ingredients do! Treatment serums contain active ingredients like retinol, and vitamin C, and exfoliants like glycolic or salicylic acid.
For that reason, you should use a pea-sized amount of your serum to cover your whole face. Obviously, you can get a little more generous than that if it’s a basic hyaluronic acid serum or a soothing serum. But for treatment serums with active ingredients, it’s best to stick with this rule.
So whether it’s a retinol serum, a liquid exfoliator, or an exfoliating serum, use a pea-sized amount. If your serum has a pump bottle, pump out a pea-sized amount. If it has a dropper, get 3 drops of your serum into the palm of your hand and pat it onto your skin.
The amount may feel like it’s too little. But it’s not. If you like to apply your serum directly onto your skin, use one drop for your forehead, one drop for your right cheek, and one for the left cheek.
You’ll see that it spreads out equally and it’s more than enough to coat your face. As facial essences are like face serums, use the same amount for them too.
In the end, you should feel a very thin layer spread evenly on larger areas of the face like cheeks, forehead, and chin. You shouldn’t feel residual serum on your skin where it feels like you should blend it in.
How Much Moisturizer To Use
As the most satisfying part of a skincare routine, moisturizers offer the easiest way to get soft, smooth, and plump skin.
So we’re all guilty of overusing them when our skin feels a little bit drier. But using more moisturizer than you should usually causes skincare pilling on the skin.
And sometimes, even otherwise non-problematic moisturizers can feel tacky, and greasy on the skin simply because there’s too much of it on your skin. So it’s best to do it right.
You should use a nickel-sized amount of moisturizer for your whole face. This is the right amount for daily moisturizers, lotions, and gel creams you use for oily skin.
You can go a little less than that for thicker creams you use if you have dry skin and for heavily emollient creams. But there’s a sea of options with moisturizers.
And you may need some trial with this. But in the end, you should feel evenly moisturized skin where there’s no cream residue.
Residual cream requires rubbing where you can literally see that the white cast doesn’t disappear into the skin no matter how much you smear it.
Additionally, there are night creams that contain active ingredients. We don’t use these every single night. And like face serums, they are more of a treatment than a moisturizer.
For example, if you’re using a retinol night cream or a glycolic acid night cream, you should not lump it in with a regular face cream.
For those types of treatments, use a pea-sized amount. Because not every part of your skin needs to bathe in a retinol cream.
So even though there will always be an exception to any skincare rule, these creams should be used like serums and applied with a focus on larger areas of the size.
How Much Eye Cream To Use
This has been a challenge for me. I’m a stickler for extremely hydrated under-eyes. And I apply eye cream very generously. But this resulted in milia under my eyes as I was using a very heavy under-eye cream in large amounts.
With another eye cream I overused, I had to deal with constant pilling around my temples as my moisturizer was mixing in with my eye cream.
When you overdo it, your eye cream can even mess up your concealer application. It prevents your concealer from spreading out evenly. And that excess eye cream your skin can’t absorb also causes creases for your concealer.
Eye creams are usually more concentrated than face creams. That’s why they come in tiny bottles. So as a general rule of thumb, less is more with eye creams, and make sure you blend it very well.
A pea-sized amount of eye cream is enough to cover both under-eye areas. But as eye creams come in different packages, things may not always be so obvious.
So if your eye cream comes in a bottle where you squirt out the product, get a pea-sized amount on your fingertip, ideally your ring finger for gentle application. Then pat your two ring fingers together to evenly distribute the eye cream for your under-eyes.
If your eye cream comes in a jar, an easy way to get the right amount of eye cream is by gently touching the cream with your ring finger. The cream sticks to your finger and that’s usually what you should be using. So you shouldn’t dive in and get scoops.
How Much Face Oil To Use
Face oils don’t disappear into the skin. Unlike a water-based serum, a face oil stays on the skin and coats it. So overusing a face oil will feel uncomfortable on the skin and you may have to use blotting paper to get rid of it.
A face oil creates an invisible layer on the skin to prevent moisture loss. And there’s no reason for using this in large amounts.
Use 3 drops of your face oil and instead of patting your skin with it, you can go ahead and spread the oil on your face to make sure you cover all areas.
How Much Sunscreen To Use
Sunscreen is a little different than other skincare products. Because it’s about preventing UV rays from damaging your skin. So the general consensus is that you can’t overdo this and that there’s nothing wrong with overusing sunscreen.
Well, you could be wasting your product. On the flip side, sunscreen is the most effective prevention for signs of aging. And you want to make sure you’re using enough.
But there’s so much noise around this topic. I’ve seen dermatologists recommending 4 straight lines of SPF on your 4 fingers for the first application on your face and I’ve seen some recommending 2 fingers.
Some people use terms like shot glass, or tablespoon to describe the right amount. And there’s also the fact that sunscreens can come in spray, stick, or powder forms.
But overall, the idea is that it’s better to overdo it than to underdo it. And the two-finger rule seems to work really well where it’s neither too much nor too little.
In the end, for your first sunscreen application for your face, you should see and feel your SPF applied a little thicker than a moisturizer evenly all over your face. And don’t forget to apply it on your ears, your neck, your chest, and other exposed areas.
So this is how much of each skincare product you should be using. The correct amount will make sure you’re not wasting your product and your money and that you’re using enough to collect the benefits. Except for sunscreen, less is more with your skincare products.