You’ve heard of the 10-step Korean skincare routine and how it gives you the coveted glass skin, but you’ve also heard some people swearing by “skip-care”, a minimalist approach to skincare.

We can almost hear you screaming: How much skincare do I really need?

If this question has been bothering you, you’ll be glad to know that you’re on the right article. We’ll be sharing with you everything you know about the steps that you really need, down to the amount you should be using.

How much skincare do I really need: the essential steps

how much skincare do i need amount

Most people will tell you that a three-step routine is all you need, but Daily Vanity advocates a four-step routine for everyone, and a five-step routine if you wear makeup.

The three steps most people would agree you really need are: cleanse, tone, moisturise.

We highly recommend adding sun protection as the last step.

Lots of studies have shown that UVA is one of the top culprits that ages our skin relentlessly, so consistent sun protection can certainly help prevent a suite of skincare concerns including pigmentation, firmness, and wrinkles later on in life – saving you the need to try anti-wrinkle or anti-spots treatments when you’re older.

And if you wear makeup, always take off your makeup with a good makeup remover. Oil cleansers and micellar waters are two very popular and effective makeup removers you can try. Also remember that double-cleansing is important; this means that you should still use a cleanser after you’ve removed your makeup with a makeup remover.

Now that you’ve gotten your four- or five-step skincare routine down pat, you can continue to build on it if you think you need it.

Adding an antioxidant product such as a vitamin C serum into your nightly routine can be a good way to mitigate free radical damage from UV rays and pollutants accumulated in the day. This is important for the times your sun protection isn’t done adequately.

Some people who are prone to signs of ageing around the eye area and may want to opt for an eye cream in their skincare routine. Others may need to include acne treatments (such as benzoyl peroxide creams) or other targeted treatments for very specific skincare concerns they want to treat.

Here’s the right order to apply your skincare products

how much skincare do i need order

While not directly answering the “how much skincare do I really need” question, it is certainly just as important to understand the right order to apply your skincare products.

Generally, this is the skeletal structure you can refer to:

  1. Cleansing products: Use your makeup remover before your regular cleanser if you have makeup on, and then finish your cleansing routine with toning.
  2. Pre-serums/essences: Pre-serums and essences are very popular in K-beauty and it has taken off in a big way in the last few years. While we won’t consider them an essential, some people have seen great results after they started using them and feel that they help to improve the efficacy of the other products in their routine. If you want to use such products, they should come right after cleansing.
  3. Serums and treatments: Your anti-ageing or brightening serums, eye creams and acne treatment creams come next. If you are investing in many of such products, your order of application will be dependent on the thickness of the product. Always apply the lightest product first and the thickest product last.
  4. Moisturisers: Then, slather on your moisturiser to seal in all the goodness of the products you’ve just applied. Moisturisers prevent moisture from escaping from your skin so it can remain supple.
  5. Sunscreens: Finally, for your morning routine, finish off with a sunscreen before you proceed with your makeup routine.

How much skincare do I really need: the amount of product

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Besides figuring out the number of products to use, when asking yourself “how much skincare do I really need”, you’ll probably be wondering how much of the product to dispense and apply.

We probably would know that using too little means our skin may not receive the benefits from the products, but using too much can also cause problems such as general wastage (because your skin can’t absorb everything), or worse, irritation or clogged pores.

  • Makeup remover: For cleansing oils, one pump is usually sufficient for your entire face. As for micellar waters, soaking one square of cotton pad completely should usually be enough.
  • Cleanser: If you’re dispensing from a tube, an approximately 2 to 3cm of the product will be enough to do the trick. In case you dispense too much of it, you can always use the product to cleanse your neck and décolletage.
  • Toner and essence: All you need is an amount that’s equivalent to a 50-cent coin.
  • Serum: Some people tend to go OTT with their serums, thinking the more they apply, the faster they’ll see results. Actually all you need is no more than the size of a 5-cent coin for it to be enough. You can apply a bit more if you’re extending your application to your neck area.
  • Eye cream: Your area is really small, so don’t be too zealous with eye cream application. An amount that’s just enough to cover the tip of your pinky finger will be sufficient.
  • Moisturiser/sunscreen: An amount that’s equivalent to a 20-cent coin is sufficient to moisturise or protect your skin adequately.

Of course, everyone’s face size and skin’s ability to absorb products differ, so use the above as a general guide and customise the amount according to your personal needs. Your skin should feel supple after each application – not sticky or greasy – and you shouldn’t have to wait too long in between applications.

What happens if you use too much skincare products and how do you know if you are

how much skincare do i need

Sometimes, too much of a good thing can be come a bad thing. Using too much skincare products – even if they’re high quality ones – can lead to several problems.

1. Wastage of products

Imagine your skin as a sponge; there’s just so much it can absorb. Apply so much products that your skin can no longer take in and they just go to waste.

2. Skin irritation

In some cases, overdoing your skincare can result in irritation or even breakouts.

One common mistake that many are guilty of: over-exfoliating. This can certainly lead to redness and dryness. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t exfoliate more than once a week.

Over-cleansing can also lead to dryness and even production of more sebum, and using too much serums can sometimes clog your pores.

3. Products losing efficacy

Some key ingredients aren’t designed to go well together. For instance, if you use retinol with vitamin C or AHA, it will lose its efficacy.

In some cases, the bases of the products don’t blend well together an can create a situation where your pores are clogged or uncomfortable.

Using fewer products will certainly reduce the chances of these happening.

So how do you know if you’re guilty of overusing skincare products? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • You can feel excess product on your skin that doesn’t allow you to apply your next product unless you pat off some of it with a tissue or to wait for a long time between applications
  • Your skin feels wet, sticky, and greasy, not just moist and supple, after you’ve completed your routine
  • After sticking to your routine for a while, you find your skin looking red or feeling irritated

What should you do if you’re using too much skincare products?

how much skincare do i need what to do

If the problem is with too many products, it’s perhaps time to re-assess your current skincare routine by referring to the essential list of products we’ve provided at the start of this article. Are there any product you can remove from the list?

Remove one product at a time for around two weeks and see if it affects your skin drastically. If it doesn’t, chances are you can live without it.

If your problem is with dispensing too much product for application, it’s an easier problem to solve. Simply scale back based on the guide that we’ve shared earlier.

Finally, if over-usage of products have already caused severe problems to your skin such as irritation, dryness, clogging, or breakouts, you may want to go with a basic four- or five-step routine immediately, and book an appointment with a dermatologist to have the problems sorted out.