How Much Skin Cream Should I Use on My Face?

Using the proper amount of a topical skincare product is just as important as using the correct products themselves. Studies show that 95% of people do not use enough cream when using topical products. If you are not using enough product, you won’t see the level of results you’re looking for. Did you know that most people only apply 25% of the amount of sunscreen that they should to achieve the SPF level of protection on the product label? Don’t be one of them! Use these guidelines to help you determine how much skincare product to use on your face.

Topical skincare product amounts can be measured in fingertip units (FTUs), grams, ounces or teaspoon measurements. Here, we will discuss how to measure the proper amount of a skincare product to be used on the face. This will also help you know how much skincare product to take on a trip depending on the number of days and applications per day.

Notes on Our Method for Measuring the Amount of Facial Cream to Use

The measurements described here can be used to decide how much sunscreen, anti-aging product, antioxidant cream, steroid cream, rosacea medication, melasma medication, and other facial skincare products to apply to the face. Consult your doctor on the amount of retinoid (retinol, tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene) and acne medication to use, because the amounts of these will differ by your Baumann Skin Type and what stage you are in on your skincare treatment plan.

The measurements discussed in this article to tell you how much cream to use on your face applies to cosmeceutical products, topical prescription medications, and over the counter (OTC) medications that are creams. The advice on how much cream to apply to the face applies only to creams, because the weights differ for ointments, serums, toners, and lotions. For guidance on how much ointment to apply to the face, click here. If you want to know how much serum or lotion to apply to the face, follow the teaspoon guidelines for cream but ignore the weight and FTU measurements in this article. Serums and lotions weigh less and ointmentents weigh more so the weight of serums, ointments, and lotions used on the face will be different than the weights described here for creams.  

What Is a Fingertip Unit (FTU)?

A fingertip unit is measured using a tube with a standard-sized five-millimeter nozzle and an adult’s hand. Squeeze the product out of the tube, starting at the first crease or joint on your index finger and ending at the fingertip. The fingertip unit cannot be used with serums and lotions. 

How Much Skincare Product Should I Apply to My Face? 

If you apply the proper amount of skincare product to your face, you will achieve healthier skin and it will be easier for you to predict when to refill your products. If you are not using your products at the rate suggested here, then that means you are not using enough of the product.

When applying a cream to your face, you need to use 1.0 FTUs, or 1.2 grams, or 0.04 ounces or 1/4 teaspoon to cover the entire face. You will need another 1 FTU (1.2 grams or ¼ teaspoon) to cover the front of your neck and decollete. If you need to apply to the back of your neck, you will need another ½ FTU which equals 0.6 grams or ⅛ teaspoon or 0.02 ounces.

How Much Cream to Put on the Face, Neck, and Decollete Per Application?

Use these numbers to help you determine if you are using enough skincare product and to predict how often you should refill products. For example, if you properly apply a cream to your face only once daily for 30 days, you would need to use 1.2 ounces of cream in one month. (I often suggest to my patients to buy products in a one-month quantity only so their regimen can be adjusted monthly without having to throw any product away.) This means that a 1-ounce tube of face cream should last one month. If the face cream is applied twice daily, you should go through 2.4 ounces in a month. If you were to apply a face cream twice daily for 30 days, you would need 75 grams. 

These numbers are important because they can help you gauge whether or not you are using the correct amount of product each time. Look at the total number of grams contained in the tube and compare what is left – if any – at the end of the month with how much you were supposed to have used. 

How Much Face Cream Should I Take on My Trip?

When planning for a trip, use this table to help you figure out how much face cream to bring with you. For example, if you use the face cream one day a day and you are traveling for 7 days, you need almost 0.3 ounces of cream. If you use it twice a day, you need about 0.6 ounces. If you also apply to the front of your neck you will need twice as much. (This does not include the back of the neck).

How Much Retinol Should I Use on My Face?

Retinoids such as retinol, tretinoin, and tazarotene are an exception to the rules described above because they can cause dryness and irritation if too much is used too soon. It is best to start with a lower amount every third day until you get used to it. Start with one pea-sized dot for each area of your face (or 1/8th of a teaspoon), divided into your forehead, right cheek, and left cheek. Most people need to use 1/8th of a teaspoon every third night for 2 weeks and can then increase to every other night. It is important that you introduce your skin to these ingredients slowly, gradually increasing how often you apply them. Some people are able to gradually work up to applying retinoids every night, while others do better with every-other or every-third night applications. Your skin type and how well you tolerate retinoids will determine how frequently you apply them. Once you are using 1/8th of a teaspoon every night with no problem, you can increase the application amount to 1 FTU (0.04 ounces or ¼ teaspoon).  

How Much Sunscreen Should I Use on My Face?

The amount to use depends upon whether or not the sunscreen is a cream or a gel or a lotion.  The numbers described here apply to cream sunscreen only. When the SPF is measured in FDA testing to determine what SPF goes on the label, 2mg/ square cm2 is applied to the skin.  This is ¼ teaspoon for the face. If the sunscreen is a cream, the weight of ¼ teaspoon of SPF should be about 0.04 ounces or 1.2 grams. That means that in order to achieve the amount of SPF on the label, you must apply 0.04 ounces to your face. If you apply less, then the SPF will be less than that listed on the label.  

A 30 gram tube of SPF should last you 25 days if you are applying once a day to your face.  If you are going to be outdoors, do not forget that you need to reapply at least every 2 hours. (You will need to apply more frequently if you are going in and out of the water and do not have a water resistant SPF).  So, if you plan a beach vacation and will be in the sun for 6 hours, you need to apply your SPF at least 3 times. That means you will use 0.12 ounces per day on your face. For a one-week trip, you need over 0.8 ounces of sunscreen for your face only.  (This does not include the neck and decollete!)

In Summary

Be sure you are using the right amount of facial cream for your face. If you are underusing it, you are not getting the maximum benefit. Don’t forget that this advice applies only to cream formulations used on the face.

For more skincare information and advice from Dr. Leslie Baumann, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. You can also sign up for our newsletter by visiting and entering your email address. 

Wishing you great skin!

©2020 Metabeauty, Inc.

January 4, 2020 Uncategorized