This Is Exactly the Right Amount of Each of Your Skincare Products to Use

Photo: Stocksy / Whitney Finuf

When it comes to skincare, we talk endlessly about the type of products and the number of steps in our routines, but never about the right amount of skincare to use. Instructions loosely advise us to slather on moisturizer, dab eye cream, and coat our faces in a thin layer of serum but, really, what the heck does any of that even mean? 

Considering some of the products in our skincare routines are a bit pricey, the thought of overusing them daily and—gasp—running out of them before absolutely necessary makes our hearts hurt. With that in mind, we tend to eke out the ittiest, bittiest drops to ensure it lasts as long as possible. But apparently, there are pitfalls in using both too much and too little of your favorites, meaning that, yes, proper product application is important. "Underusing products will give you a less than ideal result," says Connecticut-based dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. "Overusing can create irritation and redness, and it in some cases can cause a filmy or oily residue on your face."

Experts In This Article

As a general rule, though, the type of product you're using matters far more than how much of it you're applying. "Generally, less is more when it comes to your skincare routine," says Dr. Madeleine Gantz, MD, FAAD, and certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology. "Oversaturating doesn't increase efficacy and can potentially lead to irritation."

While there's technically no exact science behind the right amount of skincare products you should use (because we all have different skin types, face sizes, and a whole lot of other factors), we got experts to break down a general guide for how much skincare to use and proper product application.

How much skincare products should I use? 

The amount of a particular product you should use will depend on your skincare goals, skin type, and personal preferences. Still, according to Dr. Robinson and Dr. Gantz, there are general rules of thumb most people can follow or incorporate into their routines. 


If you're using a liquid toner, Dr. Gantz says a quarter-sized amount will do the trick. If your product is in spray form, Dr. Robinson claims that one to three spritzes are all you need.

Oil-Free Lotion

Both Dr. Robinson and Dr. Gantz recommend using a nicked-sized amount of oil-free lotion. This is a great option for those with oily or acne-prone skin. 


Not sure how much sunscreen to use? We like using the two-finger rule (so does Dr. Gantz), but if that doesn't work for you, a nickel-sized amount applied every two hours will work just fine, according to Dr. Robinson. 

Facial Oil

Facial oils aren't necessary (especially if you have acne-prone skin), but if you use one in your skincare routine, our experts say two to three drops of oil is enough. 

Facial Scrub

A facial scrub or physical exfoliator shouldn't be used every night. In fact, Dr. Gantz recommends only using it two or three times a week. On those days, Dr. Robinson says an amount between a dime and a quarter-sized dollop is your best bet. 

Neck Cream

Our necks tend to show signs of aging first, so it's important to use a moisturizer or neck cream (although your face moisturizer will work just fine). Our experts say a pea-sized amount is plenty. 


Using a cleanser or face wash is highly recommended. It can be used both in the morning and the evening. Our experts suggest using a dime-sized amount.

Acne Treatment

If you have an acne treatment in your skincare routine, it heavily depends on the specific product you're using. However, generally speaking, you can use about a dime-sized amount three times a week.


Have you introduced retinol into your routine? If the answer is yes, Dr. Robinson says to start using it 2-3 times a week and work your way up as time passes. Our experts say using a pea-sized amount of retinol is more than enough.


Our experts recommend using a nickel-sized amount of moisturizer both in the morning and at night to ensure you're reaping the benefits.


Since there are so many different serums on the market, it's hard to say just how much to use. However, you can get away with using anywhere from two to four drops.

Eye Cream

Dr. Robinson suggests using a pea-sized amount of eye cream (split between both eyes). Of course, you can also use your facial moisturizer to hydrate the eye area.

In what order should I apply my skincare?

The general rule of thumb for layering different skincare products is to go thinnest to thickest. This order of layering ensures your products can penetrate and work properly; it also ensures you're getting the most bang for your buck.

So, think: cleanser, toners, serums, and spot treatments first, then moisturizer (usually thickest formulas) to seal everything up. "Sunscreen should always be applied last but before makeup," Dr. Gantz says. "Thinnest products like serums need to be applied first so they can be absorbed into the skin," Dr. Robinson explains. "They deliver higher concentrations of nutrients and actives and need to be able to reach the deeper skin structures to do so." 

Can using too much skincare products be harmful?

Using too much of a skincare product can irritate the skin and even lead to ineffectiveness, which is why proper product application is important. Ultimately, you want to use just enough to coat your skin and keep it hydrated. You should be in the clear if you're using the right products for your skin types and layering them from thinnest to thickest. 

How can I tell if I'm using too little or too much skincare product?

You can tell if you're using too little of a product if it doesn't cover the surface area of your face and too much if it takes too long to rub in. "If the product doesn't absorb into the skin quickly, or is hard to rub in, then chances are you've overdone it," Dr. Robinson says. "You can blot away excess with a clean cotton pad. In general, allow each layer of skincare to absorb for about 10-20 seconds before adding the next one." 

Final takeaway

The right amount of skincare to use will largely depend on your particular skin and needs (everyone is different, remember). However, generally, experts say a little of everything goes a long way. Listen to your skin; if it feels a bit thirsty and you can use an extra spritz of toner or a half-pump or more moisturizer, then—by all means—do that. But you don't have to go overboard and empty half of your serum bottles and moisturizer jars in a few uses, since that doesn't necessarily translate to more results.

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