Makeup Pilling Will Be A Thing Of The Past With Our Tips

You've done your trusty skincare routine with an essential SPF, only to soon find those irritating little clumps flaking off of your face. This sensation is called pilling, and it happens when products aren't absorbed into the skin properly.


"It can sometimes look like peeling skin, especially if the makeup has a tint that's close to your skin color," Sarah Villafranco, founder and CEO of skincare brand Osmia, told InStyle. "It feels like little granules under your fingertips."

Pilling may look bumpy and unflattering, but it also means that your products, including your highly important sunscreen, aren't working the way they are supposed to. Who wants to waste money and compromise your skin's protection?

Although pilling happens to the best of us, it's certainly something we all want to avoid. But why exactly does pilling occur, and how can it be prevented? We have all the info that you need.

Make sure your ingredients mesh

Pilling often occurs when you combine two or more skincare products that contain specific ingredients that don't get along. A prime example is mixing oil-based and water-based products together, as the chemical structures contradict each other. But why exactly does this occur?


"The molecules of oil are bigger than that of water and therefore do not mix easily, if at all," Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr. Michele Green told Byrdie. "You should not use oil-based and water-based products as neither will absorb, leaving a sticky residue on your skin."

Another common clumping culprit is silicones. While silicones can have many benefits in your skincare routine, too much of them won't penetrate adequately. "Silicone is a family of occlusive ingredients, which sit on the surface of the skin and are not properly absorbed, meaning that friction occurs with application," celebrity facialist Ada Ooi told Glamour UK.

So if you want a seamless face canvas, just be mindful of the ingredients you're using.


Don't put too much on

Another cause of pesky pilling is simply the amount of product that you apply. Whether it's globbing on too much foundation at once or endlessly layering product upon product, your skin can only handle so much before it starts to reject the formula. "Using too many products can throw off the skin's microbiome, causing irritation, dryness, or excess oil production, which is directly related to pilling," dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman told Byrdie.


A solution to this is to lean towards lightweight formulas. In general, the heavier the product, the more likely it is to ball up on your skin. However, those with dry skin certainly need the moisture and may naturally gravitate toward thick creams to supply it. A way around this is to use a serum in your skincare routine that will give you the hydration you need without being excessive (via Who What Wear).

Apply strategically

A key to preventing excess debris is to start with a clean slate. Be sure to wash your face before applying your skincare and makeup, and to take things a step further, exfoliating can help. This is because too many dead skin cells can also lead to pilling, and exfoliating directly removes this buildup (via L'Oreal). However, just be careful to not overdo exfoliation.


Another tip is that if you use multiple products, it's best to take your time to let each one absorb before moving on to the next one. Dermatologist Shari Marchbein told Allure that pilling can happen when you don't give a product enough time to sink into the skin before applying the next one, and recommends waiting around a minute between products for everything to dry properly.

When you do layer, a good habit is to start with the lightest formula and work your way up to the richer consistencies. If you apply in the wrong order, the molecules in the thicker product will block the molecules in the lightweight product from working, creating an unpleasant sticky residue (via Byrdie). If you follow the right steps, you can minimize the chances of pilling.