Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

12 Portion Control Rules for Beauty Products

When it comes to beauty products, size definitely matters—portion size, that is. Going overboard with some things—anti-agers, for instance—can leave your skin dry and irritated. Skimp a bit on others (say, conditioner) and you simply won't get the job done (hello, tangles). Here's the scoop about how much of everything from shampoo to serums is the right amount to reap the full benefits.

1 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Shampoo serving size: two teaspoons

How much shampoo you needs depends on a bunch of factors, including how much hair you have, its texture, and how often you shampoo. But most women need about two full teaspoons, according to the experts at Head & Shoulders . You’ll know you’ve used enough if the liquid works into a rich lather and provides coverage all over, so you get the max cleaning action. If your hair is long, thick, or curly, you may need more shampoo to avoid leaving behind dirt, oil, and product build-up.

2 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Daily conditioner serving size: a quarter

This amount is enough to reap the detangling, hydrating, and shine-enhancing rewards of conditioner, says Real Simple. Placement is a prime consideration: Avoid the roots and coat hair from mid-shaft to ends, since that’s where most damage is. Then comb through while in the shower to saturate strands evenly.

3 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Gel serving size: a quarter

Use more than a squirt this size and you risk crunchy hair that’s hard to style, says . For smooth application, massage the gel in your hands first to avoid clumps.

4 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Mousse serving size: a golf ball

This quantity is enough to work through medium-length hair, says Real Simple; 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,” Jet Rhys, the owner of Jet Rhys, a salon in San Diego, told the mag. The heat from your dryer will activate the product’s polymers to produce fullness and control.

5 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Styling wax serving size: a marble

“Less is more with oil-based products. Otherwise you’ll look like you haven’t washed your hair in days,” hairstylist Arturo Swayze, owner of NYC Arturo Salon, told Massage wax and pomade into your hands first to avoid clumps.

6 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Shine serum serving size: a pea

Like pomade, too much will put you into grunge territory, and not in the good way. Stick to a tiny pea amount and massage it into your hands first. Then apply it starting mid-shaft and working your way down toward the ends. You can always add more if your hair is longer.

7 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Cleanser serving size: a dime

It doesn’t take much cleanser to wash your face, especially if you remove your makeup first, Montclair, New Jersey, dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, told Maire Claire . Since many cleansers can’t take off concealer or foundation completely, especially around the eyes and nose, she suggested using an oil-based cream, an emollient wipe, or a cleansing oil to dissolve stubborn sunscreen and makeup. Follow with lukewarm water and a dime-size amount of cleanser (look for the ingredients cocamidopropyl betaine or caprylic triglyceride, which are sulfate-free surfactants) on your fingers or a clean, damp washcloth. Check out these household products that are natural makeup removers.

8 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Eye cream serving size: a pea

Eye cream can be costly, so think green to save some green, says Women’s Health. Scoop out a pea-size amount and pat a fourth of the cream under your lower lashes from outer to inner corner. “This motion helps disperse the fluid that causes under-eye puffiness,” Mary Lupo, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane Medical School, told the mag. Above your eye, the drainage runs in the opposite direction, so dab another fourth from crease to brow bone, going from inner to outer corner. Repeat on the other eye with the remaining half pea of eye cream. These makeup tips can make your eyes pop.

9 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Retinoid serving size: a pea

A little dab will do when it comes to a retinoid. Whether OTC or Rx, these vitamin-A derivatives have the potential to be irritating—so this is a case where you want to skimp to save (your skin, that is!).

10 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Serum serving size: a pea

Serums are usually highly concentrated, so a single dot will deliver the skin benefits. Tap onto problem areas—like smile lines and crow’s feet—to help work the product into skin.

11 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Sunscreen serving size: two tablespoons

If ever there was a product you didn’t want to skimp on, sunscreen—the ultimate anti-ager—is it. Sadly, research shows most people apply only 25 to 50 percent of the amount of sunscreen used during testing, which means your actual SPF coverage is about one-third of what’s on the label. Two tablespoons should be enough to protect skin from head to toe, but you can’t apply too much—so feel free to squirt on extra if you’re tall or broad. When applying, be sure to save a teaspoon for your face and neck.

12 / 12
Matthew Cohen/

Undereye concealer serving size: a Tic Tac

Just as a Tic Tac goes a long way toward masking bad breath, a Tic Tac-size dab of concealer is all you need to hide dark circles, says Women’s Health. Squirt a mint’s worth of liquid concealer onto your finger. “Using a small brush, dab three little dots under your lower lash line—one in the middle, and one at the inner and outer corners,” celebrity makeup artist Fabiola told the magazine. Pat with your finger to blend the dots together. Smooth on another dot of concealer wherever blue peeks through. Dip an eye-shadow brush into loose translucent powder and use it to set the concealer. Repeat on the other eye.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest