How-To / Skin care Routines / Skincare Tips

A Guide To How Much Product You Actually Need To Apply


how much

A Guide To How Much Product You Actually Need To Apply

Are you using too much skincare product? It can be easy to overdo it, especially if you're not sure how much product you need for your skin type.

When it comes to application, how much product do you need? Well, size actually does matter! For example, too much of one product could cause breakouts or clogged pores, and of course, wasting products by overusing means you are going through tubes and bottles much quicker than you should be. This is certainly not good for your bank balance or the environment.

Also, remember that applying more of a skincare product does not mean that it will work better or that results will be achieved quicker.

Then there is the problem of using too little of a product so your skin will not benefit fully from any active ingredients or worse than that, you will under-protect yourself from external aggravators like UV rays and pollution, which may end up causing long-term damage.

We often see words like apply 'a few drops' or a ‘dollop’ but what does that actually mean? With this lack of detail about what qualifies as a dollop or a drop, we can help to explain...

Be aware that cosmeceutical skin care products are different from high street skincare as they contain higher percentages meaning that they are more potent and you do not need to use quite as much.

how much

How Much Of Each Product Should We Really Be Using?

How Much Cleanser Should I Use?

It turns out that we don't need anywhere near as much cleanser as we originally thought! The power of your cleanser is far less to do with how much of it you use, and more to do with how often and how well you're using it.

Regardless of cleanser texture, no more than the size of a hazelnut is roughly all you need. Warm the cleanser through your fingers and if needed, add a little tap water to emulsify. For a foaming cleanser, these usually come in pump bottles which are really helpful to control your usage better however, the size of a golf ball or one pump is the perfect amount.

Generally speaking, you should be able to comfortably gently massage the cleanser into your skin without any tugging. A 200ml bottle of a product should last between 4-5 months, when used twice daily.

How Much Vitamin C Should I Use?

Around 3 or 4 drops are required every morning. With oil-based vitamin Cs, you need less than water-based ones. A 30 ml bottle should last around 3 months, used once a day.

How Much Retinol Should I Use?

A pea sized amount of retinol is required at night time. A 30ml tube will last around 3-4 months, used once a night. 

Retinol can cause skin irritation and a damaged skin barrier is a telltale sign of incorrect use or overuse so it is important to build up your retinol tolerance slowly to help your skin to adapt. Start by incorporating retinol into your routine slowly - apply twice in the first week then every other night second week and by the third week you can apply it nightly.

Start with a low concentration before increasing the strength. To enhance the potency of retinol while ensuring your skin can handle it, wait for at least six to eight weeks. This allows your skin to adapt. It's crucial to assess your skin's reaction rather than adhere to a predetermined timeline. Prior to elevating the concentration, carefully examine for signs of irritation such as redness, dryness, itching, or sensitivity.

Sensitive skin should be very cautious and opt for a retinol product with a gentle time release technology such as Medik8 Crystal Retinal 1.

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How Much Moisturiser Should I Use?

The size of a five pence piece or nickel sized amount is enough for a thin layer of full face and neck application. A 50 ml jar or tube will last you 3-4 months, used twice a day.

If the skin's surface still feels dry even after using the right amount, don't keep applying more, you may need to increase your exfoliation to remove dead skin cells (which are preventing your products from penetrating properly). Alternatively, switch to a richer cream and apply a hyaluronic acid serum underneath instead as your skin is probably dehydrated.

How Much Facial Oil Should I Use?

Facial oils usually come packaged in luxury dropper bottles which make it much easier to control your usage. 1 to 3 single drops (not 1 to 3 full pipettes!) of your chosen face oil is enough to cover your whole face to deliver the relevant skin care benefits your skin needs.

Apply your facial oil onto damp skin for best results and maximum absorption rate. If you are left with an oily residue afterward then, unless that's how you like it, you have probably used too much product.

How Much Eye Cream Should I Use?

The size of a grain of rice is enough for both eyes!

When you use too much eye cream, excessive use can leave the eye area hypersensitive, irritate eyes and even cause milia (tiny white bumps under the skin that need removing professionally). However, on the other hand, when you use too little, skimping on eye cream may prompt creasing, fine lines, and dehydration.

A 15ml tube will last around 5-6 months when used twice a day with the grain of rice application. Gently pat under the eye area and along the orbital bone and brow bone, avoiding eyelids if the product advises you to do so. 

How Much Face Mask/Physical Scrub/Peel Should I Use?

The size of a 10 pence piece or dime sized amount is enough for the entire face. It should be able to spread easily with a thin layer able to cover the whole face. As a general rule, when a treatment product is used twice weekly, it should last around 5-6 months.

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How Much Sunscreen Is Enough?

The recommended amount is 1/4 teaspoon for just the face (or 1/2 teaspoon for the face & neck). Or, for ease, 2 full finger lengths of sunscreen is the correct quantity to fully protect your face and ears from harmful UV rays. You need more for your neck and chest. Mineral-based sunscreens are active immediately upon application however, when applying chemical sunscreens, ensure that you apply at least 20 minutes prior to sun exposure.

It is also important to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours when exposed to prolonged sun exposure. Of course, too much sunscreen would be wasteful however, you can never be too careful when it comes to sun protection!

You must wear sunscreen all year round, 365 days a year, no matter the weather. Not applying enough sunscreen or not applying it at all will result in long-term sun damage, photo-ageing, and pigmentation that may not show up for many years to come.

How Should I Actually Apply Them? 

Do we dab, rub or pat? Serums, creams, lotions, and gels tend to absorb better by using a patting technique. So that will most likely include the majority of the products in your skincare regime - serums, moisturisers, eye creams, etc.

This type of technique is more gentle on delicate skin because it's not pulling on the skin. The positives are that it aids blood circulation and offers even distribution too. This technique is even more relevant for eye creams and is especially important around the fragile eye area. Gently press products onto the face, starting from the inner areas and moving outwards.

Rubbing your skin care products in could cause more harm than good by causing friction, stretching the skin, and breaking down collagen and elastin. Leave rubbing for cleansers as this helps to achieve the foaming action.



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Andrea Patel Dermatology Nurse Practitioner & Director Author
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