How Much Skincare Product You Should Really Be Using?

skincare product textures

When it comes to skincare, do you know how much you should use?  Most likely, most people probably use more than what is needed when it comes to their skincare regimen.

Taking a look at most cosmetic products, the instructions have a vague "apply liberally" description.  Taking that into account, people will interpret that as using a lot.  If someone has dry or acne prone skin - they may have the mindset that the more product they use, the faster and better the results, right? 

While more may seem like you're getting more of the potent ingredients into your skin, in reality it can cause your skincare products to not function properly, irritate skin which sets back results, or leave the skincare sitting on top and not being absorbed.   

Using too little of a product has it's potential downfalls too depending on what the product is.  Some skincare product claims are based off a certain amount being used per each application, so using a much smaller amount could mean that you aren't getting enough of the ingredients that give the full skin benefits. 

Of course, using less of a product that isn't right for your skin type or that you're sensitive or allergic too isn't going to make it work any better, but that's a whole other topic. 

Here's a guide on how much of each skincare product to use to get the most out of your products without the side effects! 


Use a dime sized amount with gel or cream cleansers.  With foaming cleansers one pump is enough.

What Happens If I Use Too Much?  If you use too much cleanser, you could potentially irritate your skin or overly dry skin out.

What Happens If I Use Too Little?  Too little cleanser used could mean you didn't have enough product to thoroughly clean skin. This could leave pores clogged with some leftover dirt and oils on the skin.

Serums Or Oils

Serums are usually are concentrated so you only need around 2 to 3 drops or the size of a pea for the whole face.  Your skin can only absorb so much so using too much may leave your skin feeling overly greasy and waste product.  Serums are usually used after cleanser or right after a toner.   Oils can be used toward the end of a routine. 

What Happens If I Use Too Much?

If too much of a serum is used, it could cause a stinging sensation especially if you use an exfoliating type of serum for your skin. Serums with a high concentration of potent ingredients may have a higher potential to irritate skin.  Some serums like Vitamin C based ones have an acidic concentration which could cause irritation and stinging too.  If using an oil, too much could leave skin feeling greasy and potentially clog pores depending on the oils and skin type. 

What If I Use Too Little?

Using too little would mean you won't get the full effects of the serum or oil, however just 2-3 drops is enough so most likely you're getting enough of your serum! 


A quarter size amount is enough for your whole face and neck. The general rule too is the 2 finger rule. Squeeze a strip of sunscreen across the length of your index and middle finger and that's enough for the face and neck.     I recommend a sunscreen that uses minerals like zinc oxide to block uva and uvb rays especially if you have sensitive skin, but any sunscreen is better than none when out in the sun! 

Note that most sunscreens need to be reapplied every 2 hours to maintain the SPF protection that it provides.

What Happens If I Use Too Little? 

Using too little sunscreen can be potentially harmful. If too little is applied, you aren't getting the full SPF rating on the bottle. There's also a bigger chance that some spots may have been missed why applying so sunburn or sun damaged skin can occur in the missed spots. 


Face toners are meant to be used after washing the face but before applying  moisturizer or serums.  Before they were for balancing the skin pH after a cleanser, however nowadays most cleansers are pH balanced for skin.  Most people soak a cotton round until it feels damp, and wipe the toner across skin. You can also pour about 6 drops out and pat it on the skin. 

What Happens If I Use Too Much?

It really depends on the toner. Most good quality toners won't have a negative effect if too much is used.  If it's an exfoliating toner with acids, then using too much or too often could irritate the skin, and high alcohol concentrated ones may dry skin out, causing some burning.  



Use about an almond sized amount. Many masks are concentrated with ingredients too or can absorb oils so you really don't need a huge thick layer.  Oil absorbing masks should be used once a week or up to twice a week if you have oily skin.  Exfoliating masks depending on how gentle or strong they are can be used 1-3 times a week.  Hydrating masks can be used more often. 

What Happens If I Use Too Much?

Using too much of a mask could lead to dry and flaky skin especially if they are oil absorbing.  Too much or too often of an exfoliating mask could cause sensitive and irritated skin.   Moisturize after to avoid drying out skin after masks. 


You can use about a nickel sized amount on your face and neck, but use slightly less or more depending on if your skin is more on the oily side or tight and dry.  Some creams and moisturizers are formulated differently than others so you can experiment with this.  For example the Banish Vitamin C Creme recommends a pea sized amount.   

What Happens If I Use Too Much?

Too much could leave skin feeling greasy throughout the day.

What Happens If I Use Too Little?

If not enough moisturizer is used, then skin could continue to look and feel a little tight and dull since it's not getting enough hydration back.


Exfoliating Scrubs

Usually a small nickel sized dab is fine if you choose to use a scrub for your face. Choose one that is made with a fine exfoliating powder versus one made with items with a jagged edge.  Exfoliating physical scrubs are not really mandatory for most skincare routines and can be too abrasive for people with sensitive skin or acne prone skin. 

What Happens If I Use Too Much?

Using too much exfoliating facial scrubs can cause your skin to become irritated, red and even sore, especially when you apply other products on your face after it.

In summary, a pea sized amount for serums, a quarter sized dollop for masks, a single pump of a cleanser or nickel sized amount, and a quarter sized for sunscreen is generally where you'd want to aim for how much skincare product to use. 

Remember, this is just a general guide for you to use if you notice your skin is oily or products aren't sinking in then use less moisturizer, serum, or creams. If your skin is still feeling parched then you can slowly increase the amount of water based moisturizer and products you use.  

What other skincare guidelines would you like to know more about?



Ask the Expert: How Much Sunscreen Should I Be Using On My Face and Body

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