How much of a skincare product should you really use? Here are the facts
There is such a thing as too much and too little skincare. Two international skin experts tell you everything you need to know about hitting the sweet spot in between
There may not be a universally perfect skincare routine, but there sure are rules when it comes to the quantities you should use. Apply a too thin layer of SPF and you’ve basically applied none at all, douse your face in serum and you’ll be waiting for it to sink in for a few hours, over-exfoliate and redness and irritation will become mainstays on your skin. How much of what is too much and how much is too little? Two celebrity aestheticians—Los Angeles-based Shani Darden and Austin-based Renée Rouleau—let us in on everything there is to know about using just the right amount of skincare.
The perfect quantities of skincare products
Every product that makes up your skincare routine has its own recommended method of usage, whether application is in question or quantity. As a thumb rule, always make sure you read the instructions on the packaging of every bottle and tub that you’re about to use—it pays to listen to what the brand recommends. “Our skin is like a sponge and can only absorb so much,” says Rouleau. “At a certain point, things just accumulate on the surface of the skin if you use too much, so there is no sense in over-using.” In the same way, using too little won’t give your skin all the benefits of using the product altogether. It’s beneficial to have a general idea of how much is good enough by yourself as well, in case what’s on the box seems too vague. How much you use and the combination of ingredients you use are both of prime importance. “If you’re using too much of an active product or using too many products at the same time, it can cause irritation, dryness, redness, and potentially even a chemical burn,” says Darden. Ahead, read for guide to the right quantities for every skincare step, no matter the day or night.
Cleansers are of two types, those that remove your makeup and those that don’t. If you’re using a cleansing balm or oil for makeup removal, the best way forward is to start with a little bit and keep adding to it till your skin is rid of all traces of makeup. If you’re double cleansing—which is recommended, especially if you were wearing makeup or multiple layers of skincare over the course of the day—you will most likely follow up with a gel or foaming cleanser. Both Shani Darden and Renée Rouleau agree that you usually only require a coin-sized amount to give your skin a complete cleanse. “My Cleansing Serum only requires less than a dime sized amount, because a little goes a long way,” says Darden of the cleanser by her namesake brand. “You mix a small amount with water, and it creates a really soft lather that will thoroughly cleanse the skin, but never strip it.”
When using a toner, just a light spritz won’t do. “Use enough so that you saturate the skin and leave it damp before applying a serum,” says Rouleau. “I typically use about five-six pumps to saturate the cotton gauze before applying it to my face,” adds Darden. Let it thoroughly prep and prime your skin for the potent serums and moisturisers you’re going to be sending its way.
“Determining how much of an exfoliant to use depends on the formula,” says Darden. “It’s best to stick with the manufacturer’s directions to make sure you’re not using too much and at risk for over exfoliating.” If you’re new to chemical exfoliants in particular, start off with a very small quantity, just enough to create a thin layer on your face and use it twice a week. Even if you do feel like you need more of the product, allow your skin to get accustomed to the acids before you dive in skin first.
Rouleau recommends using a dime-sized amount of your serum. “It will spread easily, and you’ll use less product if you leave your toner damp,” she says. Since serums are of many types and concentrations, it’s important to consider the formulation as well. “For a prescription retinol, the recommendation is generally a pea-sized amount,” advises Darden. “However, for an over the counter formula, I generally recommend one-two pumps for the entire face and you can use a bit more to smooth over your neck and chest as well. For other active treatment products in dropper form, I would generally recommend between five to 10 drops, or however much is required to cover your entire face.”