If using a little bit of shampoo, toothpaste, and moisturizer gives good results, then you might think that using a lot of these products would be even better for you, right? Wrong. Here's why.

This is a common misconception that many women share, but in fact, overusing health and beauty products will usually backfire on you, says Samantha Lowe, an esthetician with the Rescue Spa in Philadelphia. For instance, using too much of many creams and lotions can leave you with dull, slimy skin and lifeless hair.

"Manufacturers are usually quite clear on how and how much of a product to use," Lowe says, and it's always a good idea to follow the directions that are often included in the packaging. "If you're using a product that comes from a skincare professional, ask for their recommendation," she adds.

Smart Measures: Recommended Amounts for 12 Beauty Products

While every product will be different, Lowe offers some general advice to guide you on properly using some of your basic skin and hair care products:

1. Facial Cleanser. Apply enough to your face to remove makeup and oil, usually about the size of a dime or a nickel. Foaming cleansers are usually applied to dampened skin, while creamy cleansers are applied to a dry face.

2. Exfoliating Scrub. The size of a quarter is enough for the face and neck. Massage the exfoliator with damp fingers in a light, circular motion.

3. Eye Cream. Dab a tiny bit of eye cream that's about the size of a grain of rice to one ring finger, and then share it with the other ring finger. Use a patting movement to apply the cream, then go over it with a more rapid, light tapping movement.

4. Face Mask. Most masks can be applied in a thin coat. Don't worry about smoothing the solution or making it look pretty or even.

5. Daytime Moisturizer. Applying lotion over serums and under sunblock can help add additional moisture. A little more than a pea-size blob of the lotion will go a long way.

6. Nighttime Moisturizer and Wrinkle Cream. You need only about the size of a hazelnut for best results. If using the cream over a serum (which will help intensify results), you can cut that amount in half.

7. Shampoo. Remember that the purpose of shampooing hair is to remove oil and product residue. If your hair hasn't been washed in days or you loaded it up with hairspray to ward off the humidity the day before, give it two washes. Short or fine hair requires less shampoo than thick or long hair, so adjust accordingly.

Note: Sulfate-free shampoo doesn't produce much lather so adding more shampoo won't increase the lather.

8. Conditioner. Use a dab of condition the size of a nickel and work it into the mid-shaft of your hair to the ends. Comb through to distribute evenly.

9. Mousse and Gel. Mousse should be applied in sections, usually starting in the middle, while root lift should be applied at the root. Start out with a small amount and add more if needed. Trial and error also works best for gels, depending upon the degree of hold you prefer.

10. Foundation. Start by applying a small amount of liquid foundation with a brush or your fingers. It's better to layer foundation then to put on a thick coat.

11. Sunscreen. For your face and body, you'll need about an ounce (about a shot glass full) of SPF. The face, ears, and neck require an even application year-round, so be sure not to forego this important step even during the winter months. (The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.)

12. Toothpaste. A large pea-size blob of toothpaste is usually sufficient for two minutes of brushing. When you rinse your mouth if you see actual toothpaste in the sink then you are using too much or not brushing long enough.

A Word About Price and Quality of Beauty Products

If you find yourself loading up on too much of a product in order to make it more effective, you may not be spending enough money on your choices. While you can find affordable, yet effective, products at the drug store, sometimes it makes sense to upgrade.

"The price of products (hair, skin, or body) is determined by the scientific research behind it along with the quality, potency, and the concentration of active ingredients," says Lowe. Say you're interested in skincare infused with vitamin C. A drug store brand of face cream may say it is a vitamin C cream but the percent of the active vitamin C may actually be very low. "It is costly to add active vitamin C to any product and the price point of a drug store brand will not allow for a high enough concentration to give the desired results," she explains. Therefore, it may actually be cost effective to splurge on a better brand and use it sparingly, rather than lathering on a less expensive option.

Samantha Lowe, esthetician, reviewed this article.


Samantha Lowe, esthetician, mail interview Nov. 13, 2013. http://www.rescuespa.net

Skin Cancer Foundation: Prevention Guidelines. Web 2013