How Much Skincare Product To Use
Whether you already have a skincare routine or you’re just starting your skincare journey, it can be overwhelming trying to integrate new products. Each type of product has a specific use, and there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing your products.
“Using the right amount of your skincare helps ensure you get your desired results without wasting any product!”
With this in mind, how do you create a skincare routine, and how much product should you use? Today, let’s explore how you can build the right skincare routine — and use the appropriate amount of each product.
What Skincare Products Do You Need?
The first stage of building a skincare routine is evaluating which products you need. Although some products are technically optional, here are my recommendations for an optimal skincare routine.
Cleanser is an essential part of every skincare routine. The basic function of every cleanser is to remove the buildup of impurities, dirt, oil, and sunscreen.
This should always be the first step of your morning and evening skincare routines. Even when you sleep, your skin creates oil and accumulates dirt — so it’s important to cleanse in the morning and evening.
Here are a few key things to look for in a cleanser:
- Oil-based cleansers are designed to remove oil-based impurities like sebum, makeup, and sunscreen. These cleansers can generally work for any skin type.
- Water-based cleansers are designed to remove water-based substances like sweat and dirt and are often paired with oil-based cleansers.
- Some cleansers contain fragrance and alcohol — these ingredients can irritate sensitive skin.
- Cleansers formulated for oily skin can include oil-controlling ingredients like salicylic acid and niacinamide. These ingredients may irritate dry skin.
Toner is an optional skincare product, but it has some unique benefits you may want to take advantage of.
Toner is a water-based product that is designed to infuse your skin with hydration and lightweight ingredients. This product comes after cleanser and can also help remove any leftover impurities your cleanser may have missed. Some toners can also balance your skin’s pH.
Here are a few things to look for in a toner:
- Just like cleansers, some toners may contain alcohol as a drying agent. Others may contain fragrance. If you have sensitive skin, I recommend avoiding these ingredients.
- If you have sensitive or dry skin, I recommend looking for soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe vera.
- Some toners include brightening ingredients like lactic acid, salicylic acid, and witch hazel. These are great ingredients for oily or dull skin.
Serums are products designed to infuse your skin with as many ingredients as possible. Many serums contain concentrated formulas designed to penetrate your skin quickly and thoroughly to achieve effective results.
Serums can be oil-based or water-based, but in either case, they often come in dark containers with a dropper-type applicator. Because these products are so concentrated, they are often designed to achieve highly specific results.
Here are some popular serum ingredients and what they do:
- Retinol is an ingredient that has anti-aging effects, such as reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is very powerful, so I recommend slowly building up to nightly use.
- Niacinamide is a powerful antioxidant often paired with retinol for its soothing benefits.
- Vitamin C is a brightening agent that can also improve the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
- AHAs like lactic acid, glycolic acid, and mandelic acid are excellent chemical exfoliants that can smooth and brighten your skin.
- BHAs like salicylic acid can help clear pores.
- Hyaluronic acid is an excellent soothing agent that can help hydrate your skin.
Moisturizers are skincare non-negotiables. While serums and toners are helpful but not technically necessary, moisturizers are important to help your skin stay supple and hydrated.
Moisturizers are products that you should tailor to your skin type. For instance, if you have oily skin, you should look for something lightweight and non-comedogenic (which means it won’t clog your pores). For this purpose, I recommend my Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer.
Meanwhile, if you have dry skin, I recommend a thicker formula like an ointment or cream moisturizer.
There are three types of moisturizing ingredients:
- Humectants, which draw in moisture from the environment and hold it in your skin. Hyaluronic acid is a popular humectant that can hold 1,000 times its own molecular weight in water.
- Emollients, which help soothe cracked and flaking skin and smoothen rough textures. Popular emollient ingredients include shea butter, petrolatum, and mineral oil.
- Occlusives, which create an oily seal over your skin to help lock in moisture. Popular occlusive ingredients include squalene, mineral oil, lecithin, and candelilla.
Sunscreen is another essential part of every skincare routine. It should follow moisturizer in your morning skincare routine so that you can start every day with sun protection.
There are two kinds of sunscreen: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens are made with active ingredients like avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone and are designed to soak into your skin to neutralize harmful UV rays. Meanwhile, mineral sunscreens are made with active ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and are designed to sit on top of your skin to reflect UV rays.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a sunscreen:
- Many sunscreens are oil-based, so if you have oily skin, I recommend looking for a sunscreen that is labeled as “made for oily skin” or “oil-free.”
- Dermatologists generally agree that you should use at least SPF 30 for effective protection against sun rays.
- Look for a sunscreen labeled as “broad spectrum.” Sunscreen is only required to protect against UVB rays, which cause burns and superficial skin damage. However, broad-spectrum sunscreen also protects against UVA rays, which penetrate more deeply into your skin and cause premature aging.
How Much Product Should You Use?
Ultimately, you should follow the directions on your product’s package for maximum efficacy. However, here are some general guidelines as to how much product will get the job done:
- Cleansers – Generally, all you need is a dime-sized amount.
- Toner – I recommend using two to three pumps of this product.
- Serum – All you need is a pea-sized amount of this product.
- Moisturizer – I recommend using a nickel-sized amount of moisturizer.
- Sunscreen – Experts recommend once ounce or one shot glass for your whole body.
If you’re looking to build a skincare routine, navigating the wide variety of ingredients may be overwhelming. With so many products vying for your attention (and your wallet), you want to make sure you only buy what you need.
I recommend building your routine off of cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen and adding in serums and toners if you’d like to target specific skin concerns. If you don’t know where to start, our skincare experts can help you find a routine for your specific skin needs.
Do You Really Need a Skin Care Routine? | Northwestern Medicine
How to Choose the Best Moisturizer for Your Dry Skin | Cleveland Clinic