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A Pea Sized Amount: How Much Product is Too Much?

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When you’re applying your skin care products, how much do you use? Are you a liberal, smother it all on kind of person? Or are you more restrained and tend to use a minimal amount, hoping that it spreads enough to cover your whole face? Have you even thought about it?

Sometimes, our schedules are so busy and our lives so fast paced that we barely stop to eat, let alone consider how much skin care product we’re using, or even if we’re using the right amount.

But it really does matter how much cleanser, serum, exfoliant, moisturiser (and everything else) that we’re using; use too much and we could be overloading our skin and use too little and it could be a pointless exercise using it in the first place.

When reading the labels of many skin care products, the words ‘pea sized amount’ tend to crop up a lot. But what does this mean? Are there different guidelines for different products? What can we get away with and what should we really be concentrating on, pea size wise?

Ever the investigators, we decided to find out…

Is there a one size fits all approach?

First up, can we apply the arbitrary pea sized amount (a teeny petit pois, an average sized garden pea or a - relatively - huge marrowfat pea, we ask you!!) to all skin care products from cleansers to moisturisers?

Well, it turns out, no. For example, we’ll probably need to use more of a foaming or liquid cleanser than we do our serum or eye cream.

Also, do the same rules apply to everyone? Again, no. Like anything in life from how much we earn, what we like to eat and the size of our homes, we all have different needs. What works for one person, might not work for you.

Your skin might be super parched and dry, meaning that it’ll drink in that moisturiser quicker than you can say “thirsty, are we?”. But someone with really hydrated skin will need a thin layer of moisturiser in order to avoid developing the dreaded shine, and they certainly won’t have any need to reapply soon after the first layer.

So ultimately, it’s all about your needs and what feels right for your skin. So all of the information that follows comes with a little side of terms and conditions - do what feels right, these are just guidelines.

We don’t mean go stingy on the cleanser if you’re wearing particularly heavy makeup after a night out, even if the product label says to use a small amount. Similarly, we don’t mean cover your face with a scoop of moisturiser if it simply doesn’t need it. It’s all about working out what your skin needs, and these needs might differ at different times.

The only ‘rule’ is if a product such as a fruit acid exfoliator, for example, a salicylic acid exfoliant, says to “use sparingly”, follow this advice as it could damage your skin if you don’t and use an excessive amount. But more on that shortly.

So here goes, our rough guide to the amount of different skin care products you ‘should’ be using.

How much of each different skin care product should I use?

Each skin care product has its own method of working and really, how much of each you should use depends on the product type and what ingredients it contains. Some ingredients can be too harsh to use a lot of, whilst others, such as cleansers, need to be used fairly liberally in order to be effective.

Here’s information on each possible product in your skin care regime...

Cleanser

Aim for around a 5 pence piece sized amount of liquid cleansers (it’s best to avoid bars of soap for cleansing the facial skin anyway, as they can be very harsh and drying).

If you use too little your skin pores can become clogged, leading to spots and acne outbreaks. Use too much and your skin is unlikely to suffer, but your bank balance might as you waste your cleanser unnecessarily.

Eye cream

It’s best to dot eye cream around your eye before using a clean finger to pat it into the eye area, but it can be tricky to know how much to squirt out.

Using an eye cream with a thin nozzle or roller applicator can make this easier to apply directly to the eye area.

Use too little and your delicate skin around your eyes might become puffy and dehydrated. You risk getting watery or stinging eyes if you use too much eye cream. The experts recommend using a pea sized amount of eye cream.

Serum

Serums are usually made from concentrated active ingredients that if used too liberally can irritate the skin. But if you use too little, you risk it being a waste of time as your skin simply doesn’t benefit.

Aim therefore, for a coffee bean sized amount (coffee beans are all the same size, right?) of product and gently apply to your entire face, working quickly to distribute it before it dries into the skin.

Exfoliator

The point of an exfoliator that’s either product based or a type of mechanical exfoliator such as a loofah or facial brush is to rid the skin of the dirt and makeup that can be leftover from cleansing, dead skin cells and excess sebum.

If these components are left on the skin, they’ll make the skin appear dull and may even block the pores, leading to spots and acne breakouts.

The main consideration is how often to use them, as mechanical exfoliators and chemical based products that contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, can aggravate the skin if used too often. Therefore, aim to use them no more than twice a week, or only once a week if your skin is very sensitive.

When it comes to chemical based exfoliating products, use around the same amount as a cleanser - around the size of a 5 pence coin.

Retinol

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and is often added to skin care products designed to help reduce the signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles.

They can be quite irritating on the skin if used too often, so start off gradually and build up. Usually found in dropper bottles, retinol products are best used twice a week, a few drops at a time.

Used too much or too often, retinols can cause redness and irritation, used too little and they won’t have the desired effect.

Day and night moisturisers

Arguably the most important product to get right, your moisturiser is responsible for hydrating your skin. But use too much and you’re in danger of developing shine and possibly clogged pores that can lead to spots and acne breakouts.

Use too little moisturiser and you could leave your skin feeling dry and parched, which will negatively affect its tone, texture and appearance.

As with your cleanser, a five pence piece sized amount of moisturiser should be ideal.

You can probably afford to be a bit more liberal with your night time moisturiser, especially if you have dry skin. At night you don’t have to worry about getting shiny skin (you might have to worry about staining your pillowcases, especially if you’re staying away from home) so you can layer up the moisturiser a little bit.

Sunscreen

If you use sunscreen, then it’s important to get it right as you could be led into a false sense of security if you don’t use enough and leave yourself vulnerable to sun damage. (If you use too much, your skin can feel overloaded and greasy.)

Ideally, you should use more product than you think, and the experts recommend a 10 pence piece sized blob of sunscreen to cover the face and neck.

We recommend only using sunscreen if you think you need it, as we prefer other methods of sun protection such as wearing a large brimmed hat and sunglasses, and staying out of the direct sun when it’s at its strongest between 11 am and 3 pm.

The importance of a good skin care routine

We hope you’ve found this useful. It can be a bit of a minefield getting it right when it comes to skin care as there’s so much choice available.

That’s part of the reason we developed our simple, fuss free range of skin care products including a cleanser, serum, day cream and night cream. To take the confusion out of good skin care. (The major reason was to develop skin care products that work for non conformist, unhappy skin types, just like our own).

We make it easy to support your skin with alkalising, silica salt based skin care that truly works. Leaving you to focus your time on the things that really matter. Enjoy!

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/skin-product-amount#1

https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/order-of-skin-care#morning-routine

https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/order-of-skin-care#morning-routine


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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