How Much of These Beauty Products Should You Apply?
Many of us have beauty-product portion distortion—the old “If a little is good, a lot must be better” thing. But knowing the proper amount to use is the key to getting the best results. Apply too small a blob and the product may not work at all. Too big and you could end up with greasy skin and hair, flaky patches, or even split ends. The servings pictured here are just right. (Don’t be afraid to adjust them—a bit—to accommodate your own skin and hair needs.)
Moisturizer With SPF
Serving size: A quarter (near right). This amount will cover your face, neck, and ears for the day. Pick a lotion with SPF 30, says Kenneth Howe, a dermatologist in New York City. And don’t coat your palms to apply—go straight from fingertips to face or you might wind up with a too-thin, under-protective layer.
Serving size: Half a pea for each eye. With your ring finger, dab on sparingly, working from the outer corner in. Overdo it and “the cream can migrate into the eyes, causing irritation and puffiness,” says Cerina Silvestro, an aesthetician at La Prairie at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, Spa. And unless the jar says to, avoid applying to lids.
Serving size: A nickel (near right). Purifying masks can clear up pimples and diminish the appearance of pores, but they quickly sap skin’s moisture if overused. For best results, target only oily areas—the T-zone, for example—and use the mask no more than once a week, says Jeannette Graf, a dermatologist in Great Neck, New York.
Serving size: A pea. Whether the formula is designed for combating blemishes or lightening dark patches, a pea-size amount will give you the benefits without irritating the surrounding skin.
Serving size: A quarter (near right). This amount may seem large, but to slough your whole face, you can’t scrimp. To apply, smooth over skin in a circular motion; don’t scrub.
Serving size: A pea. Serums are usually concentrated, so one dot is sufficient. Tap onto problem areas, like smile lines, with the fingers, “which helps the product to be absorbed,” says Silvestro.
Serving size: A golf ball (near right). Since you mix cleanser with water, which dilutes it, start with a good amount. Oily skin usually fares best with a foaming formula; dry skin does better with a more emollient cream or milk (use a quarter-size amount). Regardless of the type, massage in for at least 30 seconds, then rinse with warm water. “This will help ensure that you draw all the impurities out of your skin,” says Renée Rouleau, the owner of the Renée Rouleau spa, in Dallas.
Serving size: A quarter. It’s smart to be generous here, because “at night skin is most receptive to active ingredients, like retinol and salicylic acid,” says Graf.
Serving size: A golf ball (near right). The quantity shown here is enough to work through medium-length hair; modify as necessary. For easy spreading, liquefy the product by rubbing it in your hands, then pull it through damp hair. If your strands are fine, thinning, or layered, focus on the roots to “add guts without weighing hair down,” says Jet Rhys, the owner of Jet Rhys, a salon in San Diego. The heat from your dryer will activate the product’s polymers to produce fullness and control.
Serving size: A quarter. Too much of this good thing can leave hair dull, dry, and prone to split ends. Start with this amount for medium-length hair, massaging it into your scalp. (Use a bit less for short hair, a bit more for longer hair.)
Serving size: A quarter (near right). You don’t need to use half a bottle to reap its detangling, hydrating, shine-enhancing rewards. Coat hair from mid-shaft to ends, then comb through while in the shower to saturate strands evenly. Gently brushing through dry hair before you step into the tub can also help stave off tangles once you’re under the water, says Luis Alvarez, a stylist in Cleveland and a cofounder of the Aquage hair-care line.
Serving size: Two peas. Applied to wet hair, two drops will fight frizz sufficiently and keep hair sleek, says Rhys. (Since serums often have a heavy, somewhat oily texture, too much can make hair look greasy.) To tame flyaways throughout the day, rub one pea-size drop between your hands, then gently pat onto hair, working from the ends up.
Serving size: A nickel (near right). This small dose tames thick hair, defines curls, depuffs short styles, and anchors bangs. Louise O’Connor, the owner of OC61 Salon & Spa, in New York City, mists her hands with water before dispensing gel into them to help it spread more easily. Another stylists’ secret: Make a cocktail of gel and a drop of silicone-based serum. This mixture can eliminate the crunch factor, giving hair a softer finish.
Serving size: A pea. Once you’ve overwaxed, you need to shampoo the product out, so it’s best to adhere to this minuscule serving. “Rub the wax between your palms to warm it,” says O’Connor. “This makes the product easier to work with.” Then pull through strands to get a piecey effect. (Apply all over to short hairstyles or just to the ends of longer hair.)
Serving size: A quarter (near right). Necessary for anyone who regularly exposes her hair to both chemicals and heat, deep-conditioning masks are designed to treat the hair and the scalp, so be sure to drench both. Mark Garrison, the owner of the Mark Garrison salon, in New York City, recommends using a mask after every six to eight shampoos rather than once a week. “If you wash and style only every few days,” he says, “you don’t need that much hydration.”
Serving size: A quarter. Here’s another case where a quarter can yield great returns. This amount of leave-in “takes out tangles, helps seal the hair’s cuticles to add shine, and curbs static and flyaways during the dry fall and winter months,” says Alvarez. Rub it between your palms before smoothing over damp hair. (With sprays, aim for about three pumps—one for the back, one for the left side, and one for the right.)