We live in a world where more is often better — more money, more followers, more episodes of Ted Lasso. But actually, too much really can be too much, when it comes to your skincare. (Remember what we told you about the potency of prescription retinoids versus retinol and the potential drawbacks?) We’re talking about the physical amount you squeeze out of your tubes of cleansers, creams, and serums, then apply to your face every day. Not only is overapplication expensive (you burn through products more quickly when you use 10 times the suggested amount), it doesn’t give you greater results than the recommended dose would (and, truth be told, may make things worse). To help, we’ve created the ultimate guide to figuring out your skincare daily doses.
How much cleanser should I use?
Unless you’re coming home from a Halloween party where you dressed up as a member of KISS, a dime-size dollop of facial cleanser should be all it takes to remove a day’s worth of dirt, oil, and makeup (including the waterproof kind). And it’s more than plenty to refresh your skin in the AM, if you also like to wash your face before you begin your day. Anything above and beyond that is just washing your money down the drain, literally.
That magic amount is equivalent to one half pump of our Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel. Simply work it into a lather between your wet hands, then massage it onto your wet face, being sure to use a gentle touch around your eyes. Rinse, pat skin dry, and you’re ready for your next skincare step.
How much serum should I use?
A serum is one of skincare’s most potent steps. As a result, using a serum consistently almost always ensures dramatic results. That may have you thinking that really laying your serum on thick will get you to your end goal even faster. But alas, no. Skin’s ability to absorb is not infinite. A cell can only hold so much at a time. Even a giant sponge eventually reaches a point of total saturation, you know?
Generally speaking, you want any product you apply to your skin to be fully absorbed in 30 to 45 seconds. If it takes longer than that to sink in completely, you’ve used too much, and the excess is just sitting on top of your skin, doing absolutely nothing. A pea-size amount of serum, such as our Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic 15% Vitamin C Firm & Bright Serum, is enough to treat your face and neck. If you’re layering your skincare serums, you should wait at least 45 seconds between smoothing on each one.
How much moisturizer should I use?
Since moisturizer isn’t as concentrated as serum, you can get away with applying a slightly larger amount. Think nickel, instead of pea. This recommendation is the same whether you scoop your moisturizer out of a jar (like our Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic Dewy Deep Cream) or pump it from a bottle. (Two pumps of our Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Moisturizer is equivalent to a nickel.)
How much eye cream should you use?
Like serums, a little eye cream goes a long way, thanks to its highly concentrated formulation. And also like serums, you only need a pea-size amount of product, although in this case, that’s enough for both eyes. You may decide to address crepiness and sagging with the help of our retinol-rich Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Triple Correction Eye Serum or move to minimize the appearance of dark circles and puffiness by using our vitamin C-saturated Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic Firm & Bright Eye Treatment. Either way, one pump is plenty to address the area around both eyes. (For more application how-tos specifically for the eye area, check out our recent article on the topic, The Ultimate Guide to Undereye Care & Eye Treatments.)
How much sunscreen should you use?
OK, this is actually the one skincare product you can slather on with abandon — mostly because people never apply as much sunscreen on their face (or body, for that matter) as they need to, in order to ensure adequate protection. How much is enough? Dermatologists recommend the “two-finger approach,” in which you use an amount of sunscreen equal to the length of both your index and middle fingers. And keep in mind, this is just to cover your face and neck. Your daily sunscreen of choice should carry an SPF of 30 or above, like our Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, and is always your very last skincare step in the morning.
4 more tips for getting the most out of your skincare
Tip #1: Consider swapping your skin-cycling routine for a skin-boosting one
While skin cycling is all over #skintok, our dermatologist founder Dennis Gross, MD, advocates a skin-boosting program instead (in which you supercharge your nightly skincare routine two or three times a week with more potent versions of your regular products) for more significant skin improvements.
Tip #2: Invest in a facial steamer
Adding a facial steamer, like our Dr. Dennis Gross Pro Facial Steamer, to a skincare regimen is beneficial for both acne-prone types, as well as anyone else who wants a great-looking complexion. (So, um, that would be everyone, right?)
Tip #3: Do more with your devices
If you already own our Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro and use it on the reg, you’re ahead of the game. But why stop there? We have some simple suggestions that will help you maximize the results from your FaceWare Pro. And if you’ve recently invested in our new Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite Eyecare Max Pro, we have tips for that, too.
Tip #4: Familiarize yourself with what not to do
Blame social media (although it’s not the only culprit), but there’s a lot of skincare “advice” out there that is the exact opposite of the things you should be doing to ensure healthy skin. For example, using your toothpaste to treat a pimple (terrible idea); popping collagen supplements in hopes of plumping your skin (never gonna work); or skipping sunscreen because you think if your skin doesn’t burn, it’s not getting damaged (completely delusional and could actually lead to serious, life-threatening health issues). We’re obviously biased, but we believe the best place to get skincare education is from people who are legitimate experts in skin, whether that’s a dermatologist or a licensed aesthetician. Our skincare blog, The Source, is full of doctor-vetted information, but there are other online resources, such as the American Academy of Dermatology’s site, that also provide free, credible advice.
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