When it comes to skin care, we seem to talk endlessly about the type of products and number of steps in our routines, but never about how much of them we should actually be using. Directives usually 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? What I want to know is the right amount of every skincare product to use, right now thank you very much.
Considering my holy grail serum retails at $125 a pop (I combine it with drugstore products to balance things out in my bank account, I swear), the thought of overusing it on a daily basis and—gasp—running out of it before absolutely necessary makes my heart hurt. With that in mind, I 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 favorite products. "Underusing products will give you a less than ideal result in terms of desired effect,” 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.”
As a general rule, though, the type of product you’re using matters far more than how much of it you’re applying. "Quality over quantity is the way everyone should address their skin-care regimen,” says Lauren Abramowitz, PA-C, founder of Skin Solutions Collective. "A pea size amount of any type of skin is usually the gold standard for a retinol or an eye serum, whereas if you’re using a cream for the face and neck you would more than likely use a quarter size.”
While there's technically no exact science behind how much of your skincare products you should be using (because we all have different skin types, face sizes, and a whole lot of other factors), Abramowitz recommends the below as a barometer.
What's the right amount of each skincare product should you use?
Cleanser: Pour a nickel-sized amount into your palm and massage into your skin.
Serum: Because serums are so emollient, all you need is a pea-sized amount
Moisturizer: For lotions and creams, you'll need nickel-sized amount for only your face, but should up it to a quarter if you’re going to be including your neck (which, FWIW, you should be!).
Mask: Depending on the type of mask, use anywhere from a dime- to a quarter-sized dollop—or rather, an amount that will allow you to cover your face.
Physical exfoliator: All you need is dime or nickel-sized amount.
Eye Cream: Use a dab the size of a pea, split between both eyes.
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