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A woman rubbing her fingers into Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream.

Expert Advice

How Much Lotion or Moisturizer Should You Apply?

To get the full benefits of your skincare routine, you need to use products correctly. Ahead, learn how much moisturizer you should use for soft, hydrated skin.

After spending your hard-earned money on quality skincare, you want to make sure you’re using your products properly—and that nothing is going to waste. When it comes to moisturizers, determining the right amount to use can be challenging (in fact, “how much lotion should I use?” is one of the most common questions Kiehl’s skincare experts are asked). Too little, and you may not get the full benefits of your product. Too much, and you could end up with greasy-looking, slick skin—and you’ll need to replace your moisturizer more frequently (not ideal if you’re on a budget or looking to cut down on your environmental footprint).

To help, we’ve compiled an in-depth guide to determining how much moisturizer to use. You’ll learn about the different types of moisturizers, when you should use them, and how much product you need for the different parts of your body. We’ve also included recommendations on some of the best Kiehl’s moisturizers to add to your skincare arsenal. Read on to learn how much moisturizer you should use for hydrated, healthy-looking skin.

How Much Moisturizer Should You Use?

First things first: How much moisturizer you need depends on a few factors, including your skin type, the ingredients in the product, and what type of moisturizer it is (body lotion, for example, needs to cover a larger surface area than face cream, which is why you use a lot more of it per application). Ahead, we’ll break down four common types of moisturizers and explain how much of each to use. You’ll also find recommendations on the best Kiehl’s moisturizers to add to your skincare arsenal. Read on for your guide to moisturizing the right way.

Facial Moisturizer

Face moisturizer is any cream or lotion designed to be used on your face (and neck). Generally, the product’s packaging will give you a vague idea of how much to use. But to determine exactly how much moisturizer to use on your face, you should consider the formula and your unique skin type. Rich, occlusive moisturizers—like those designed for severely dry or dehydrated skin—should be used sparingly to start (you can always add more if needed). Likewise, oil-based creams are best used in small quantities so as not to give the skin a slick or greasy feel. For these formulas, we recommend starting with a pea-sized amount for your entire face and neck. If, after application, your skin still feels tight or dry, you can slowly add more cream to dry areas as needed.

Ultra Facial Cream

Facial moisturizers designed for all skin types, meanwhile, generally give you a bit of leeway since they typically have lightweight formulas that don’t feel heavy on your skin. Consider the best-selling Ultra Facial Cream. This perennial Kiehl’s favorite contains an effective blend of lightweight hydrators, including olive-derived squalane and glacial glycoprotein. It offers lasting, 24-hour hydration and is clinically-demonstrated to soften and smooth skin within just one week of regular use.* Skin is left with 2.3 times more moisture in even the driest areas. We recommend applying a dime-sized amount of our cult-classic formula to clean skin morning and night for a hydrated, visibly healthier appearance.

If your skin is on the oilier side, you may find you prefer a water-based moisturizer, like Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream. This unique face cream for oily skin contains several weightless humectant moisturizers, including hyaluronic acid and glycerin. It absorbs quickly, providing lasting, 24-hour hydration without a tacky or heavy feel. Because the gel is so lightweight, you can be a bit more generous in your application: Aim to use a nickel-sized dollop to cover your face and neck for a fresh, shine-free finish.

Kiehl’s Expert Tip: If you’re using a facial moisturizer with potent active ingredients, such as retinol or chemical exfoliants, consult the product’s packaging for specific application instructions. If you experience any irritation or sensitivity, reduce usage and consult your dermatologist.

Hand And Foot Cream

Occlusive moisturizers, like lanolin and petroleum jelly, tend to be thick, rich, and heavier than daily body lotions. These moisturizers are generally intended for extremely dry or damaged skin. They work by forming a physical barrier on the skin, trapping in hydration to prevent water loss and subsequent dryness. Because they’re so rich, these formulas should be used sparingly: Too much, and you’ll likely end up with a greasy finish or tacky feel.

For patches of extremely dry skin on your hands or feet, start with a small amount of your chosen formula. We recommend Ultimate Strength Hand Salve or Intensive Treatment & Moisturizer For Dry Or Callused Areas. The former is made with avocado and sesame seed oils and creates a glove-like barrier against moisture loss, while the latter contains a blend of emollients and occlusive moisturizers, including shea butter, avocado oil, and cocoa butter. Intensive Treatment, specifically, is uniquely formulated to help deeply hydrate severely parched or callused skin.

Take a pea-sized amount of either moisturizer on your finger, and distribute the formula evenly over dry skin as needed. If, after a few minutes, you find it has a tacky feel, you can use a clean tissue to gently blot off any excess product.

Kiehl’s Expert Tip: To help repair extremely dry hands, smooth a generous amount of this thick lotion onto your hands before bed and cover with breathable cotton gloves. This will help lock in the moisture and prevent the lotion from rubbing off while you sleep, so you’ll enjoy noticeably softer, smoother skin by morning.

Body Lotion

Like face cream, the right amount of body lotion to use is highly variable. It depends on several factors, including how much surface area you have to cover—taller people, for example, will need to use more product than petite individuals since they have more skin. The formula’s consistency also plays a role in how much you’ll need to use. Lightweight, water-based body lotions tend to be thinner and easier to spread than thick creams, which allows you to use less lotion to cover a larger area of the body. While there’s no definitive rule of thumb for how much body lotion to use, we generally recommend aiming for slightly more than a silver dollar-sized dollop for your entire body (you can always add more if needed). For best results, apply body lotion to damp skin whenever possible, as this will improve its spreadability and help seal in moisture.

For your daily body care needs, try Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion. Our iconic formula—a Kiehl’s staple for more than 60 years—contains an effective blend of natural moisturizers, including aloe vera, olive fruit oil, and glycerin. When applied immediately after showering, the ultra-spreadable lotion helps seal in moisture for smooth, soft skin. We also recommend Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter. Its indulgent air-whipped texture absorbs quickly and feels light on the skin, so you can use it every day, morning or night.

If you have areas of rough or uneven-feeling skin, try Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion, which contains fairly-traded argan oil and olive-derived squalane. The antioxidant-rich body lotion helps protect your skin against damaging environmental aggressors while improving the skin’s overall texture. The hydrating formula is suitable for all skin types and absorbs quickly with a lightweight feel. We recommend applying it to your body daily after showering to promote softer, healthier-looking skin.

Creme de Corps (a Kiehl’s staple) is another rich body moisturizer. The formula with squalane and cocoa butter, which is suitable for all skin types, moisturizes dry skin and simultaneously helps improve its texture. The result is skin that’s soft, smooth and beautifully moisturized.

Kiehl’s Expert Tip: To cut down on packaging waste, don’t toss your moisturizer bottles when you’re done—instead, look for ways to repurpose them. Empty skincare containers can become vases, cotton swab holders, and so many more useful things.

Sunscreen

While guidelines for how much face cream or body lotion to apply vary based on the product and brand, there are consistent guidelines for sunscreen. The reason why is pretty simple: If you don’t use enough sunscreen, you may not get the full protection your chosen formula offers. In fact, studies show the majority of adults only use 25 to 50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen.I

So, how much sunscreen should you use? Experts generally recommend using a shot glass-sized amount of sunscreen, or roughly one ounce, for your body. For your face, aim for at least a nickel-sized amount. For daily protection, we recommend the best-selling Super Fluid Daily UV Defense 50+. This non-comedogenic cream sunscreen provides lasting protection against the sun’s harmful rays. It also boasts skin-friendly antioxidants and helps protect your skin against damaging environmental aggressors, like pollution. Apply the fast-absorbing formula to your entire face and neck at least 15 minutes before going outside. If you’re outside for an extended period, reapply your sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating—even if it’s a waterproof formula.

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