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How much product to use

When it comes to your skincare, how much you apply is just as important as what you use. Too little won’t achieve the desired results and too much not only increases wastage but can trigger unwanted adverse effects.

In addition skincare products have different concentrations of active ingredients so it is important to apply the right amount to avoid irritating your skin or damaging the skin barrier.

All too often we see words such as ‘apply several drops’ or ‘apply generously’ but what exactly does this mean?
In this article we give you an accurate guide on just how much of each product you should be using.
A word of note, when starting products with active ingredients new to your skin, we recommend easing your skin into the product by initially using a smaller amount and gradually increasing the dose to the recommended amount over time.
The amount of cleanser you use depends on the formulation as well as how much makeup you wear. In general a 5p coin size is enough, but if you’re using a foam cleanser, one pump should suffice. Apply cleanser to damp skin, gentle massage in  and leave on for 1-2 minutes before rinsing off.Then pat skin dry.
In the evenings remove make up and sunscreen by first cleaning with a micellar water and facial cleanser to remove all traces of these products before using your main cleanser to achieve a deeper clean.
Depending on the active ingredients in your serum these can be used once or twice daily. A vitamin C serum for example is used once daily in the morning. It is recommended you apply 3-4 drops of your serum either by applying it directly to the face or you can make a small well in your hand and drop the serum into it, then using your fingertips of the other hand dab it and apply over face. For more active serums aim to start with 2-3 drop daily and gradually increase to 3-4 drops over time.


Apply too much moisturiser can have a negative effect on skin. The skin will absorb as much product as it is able to but the excess will remain on skin surface and end up clogging pores.

Aim for the size of a ten pence coin to cover the face and neck. If skin is feeling particularly dry you can increase a little more but don’t overdo it.


When starting retinol a pea sized amount is enough . Always apply retinol to dry skin because damp skin can interfere with how much retinol is absorbed and cause irritation. Always start by applying retinol first to the forehead because the skin is less sensitive here so it can tolerate a slightly higher dose if applied here by mistake, then applying to nose, cheeks and chin areas.Start initially by using it once or twice a week and build up over time to using it every other night or every night as skin becomes more tolerant. 

Eye cream

The eye area is a delicate area to treat, and eye creams are concentrated so it is important not to overdo it when applying product here. A pea sized amount is enough for both eyes. It is recommended you use your ring finger to apply your eye cream as it has the lightest touch ensuring you don’t put too much pressure on the skin. 

Studies have shown that most people do not apply enough sunscreen which is why sunburn and other skin conditions can develop even with sunscreen application. 
To achieve the sun protection factor reflected on a bottle of sunscreen you should use approximately 2mg of sunscreen per sq millimetre of skin, this means approximately 2 tablespoons should be applied to exposed parts of the body and face. For the face and neck alone 1/2 -2/3rd’s of a teaspoon is recommended. If using a spray apply until an even sheen appears on the skin.
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours of prolonged sun exposure. It is also important to ensure your sunscreen says ‘broad spectrum ‘ on its label. This means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. 

About the Author: Anna Puri

Dr Anna Puri is an Aesthetic doctor and GP with over 14 years experience in both the medical and aesthetic fields. She completed her undergraduate training at the University of St Andrews and University of Manchester. She continues to work both as an Aesthetic doctor at her clinics in Ascot and Kew and as a GP. Dr Anna brings her holistic approach to all aspects of the care she provides with a strong focus on advice and treatment that is specifically tailored to her patients expectations and needs. She has worked with cosmeceutical skin care brands and treated a wide range of skin concerns for over a decade. Dr Anna has a special interest in Antiaging skincare and procedures . Dr Anna's work has been featured in various magazines including Lux and The Aesthetics Journal. You can follow Dr Anna on the SkinoraUK instagram page and Skinora YouTube channel.

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Last update: June 7th, 2021

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