keeping my polys low

How do I keep my characters polys low, when I am in level 2 on sub-division and apply that, and go to my edit option, the polys are very high. I want to keep the low polys through out? Do I have to not apply the sub-division level to keep it low. It is hard to make facial expressions with high face poly count?

To keep your polycount low, you don’t use sub-division modeling. Each level of sub-division multiplies your face count by 4. So 2 levels of sub-division is 4*4 = 16 times more faces than in your base mesh.

For lowpoly modeling, you use painted textures and normal maps to imply geometry that is not actually present in the model. A fairly standard process for making low-poly models is to do a high-poly model using sub-surf and/or sculpting then create a new low-poly mesh over the high-poly mesh (aka retopo or retopologize). Then you use that setup to bake ambient occlusion and normal maps that can be applied to the low poly model to make it look high poly.