Skip to content

Yes, There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Moisturizer: Here's The Fine Line

someone putting on moisturizer
Image by Marc Tran / Stocksy
October 8, 2020
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

Sure, the days of sweaty, summer skin may be quickly fading from the rearview, but colder weather brings on a whole other set of beauty concerns—namely, skin that's practically screaming for moisture. To compensate for the dip in temperature, you might feel the urge to pile on your moisturizer in fear of dry, cracked skin. We hear you; flakes are no fun, and the itch can be uncomfortable, sometimes painful.

Although, don't load up on cream just yet: While your intentions are pure, too much moisturizer can actually do more harm than good. (Cue the collective gasp.)

This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

So where's the fine line when it comes to moisture? We consulted the experts. 

Is there such a thing as too much moisturizer? 

Short answer? Totally. Smear on too much product, and it won't actually seep into your skin—your skin can only take in a certain amount of hydration, and while the specific tipping point differs for everyone, the extra moisturizer will just sit on top and make your skin look oily. And depending on the formula, too much moisturizer could even clog your pores and cause breakouts, says physician and skin care expert Lamees Hamdan, M.D., founder of SHIFFA.

So what should you do when you notice some roughness or cracks? Don't double up on product—simply change what you're working with. "Even if a formula has worked well in the past, your skin is an organ. Things change. You change season to season. If something isn't making you feel hydrated, I would look for something different," says celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care and author of Glow From Within. So if you've got a penchant for a lightweight water cream, perhaps use a thick-as-butter confection that'll melt into skin come colder weather. 

In terms of which oils and butters to seek in your whip-thick formula, well, that's up to you. Although, Vargas recommends snagging one with jojoba or avocado oils: "[They] help the moisture content in the skin feel consistent," she says.  

How much moisturizer should you actually use?

Of course, there's no one right answer: Everyone's skin can handle different amounts of moisture. But generally, Vargas recommends no more than a dime- or nickel-size dollop at most. To make sure you're covering all the dry areas, simply dot the portion all over your face, then massage it into your skin. You might even want to press in the product with your palms after the fact, just to make sure the formula seeps in. 

Lastly, don't forget the neck and décolletage, which might need an extra nickel-size goop. 

This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

The takeaway.

Yes, you can definitely use too much moisturizer. Not only is it a waste of product (an abundance of cream won't really do much when it's sitting on top of skin), but certain formulas can potentially clog pores and create breakouts. Best to find your own Goldilocks of hydration and stick to it—and perhaps switch up the formula with the seasons

This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.