Has this ever happened to you?
You’re in a hurry. You wash your face, out your serum on, slather on some moisturizer. Suddenly, it feels like tiny balls are rolling around under your fingers where there should be nice smooth skin.
What just happened?
It’s called pilling. Similar to what happens with an old sweater but for different reasons. Pilling is annoying and a waste of your product. Usually once pilling happens, the only real fix is to wipe everything off and start over.
Here’s what you can to do avoid it.
There are several reasons that pilling can happen:
Applying your products too close together
This is what got me thinking about writing this blog. I was in a rush and literally washed my face, put on my vitamin C serum, and moisturizer within about 30 seconds. When I went to apply my sunscreen…yuk. Those nasty little balls appeared.
The fix for this is to a few moments until your serum (or first product) sinks in before you apply the second one.
If you’re in a rush like I often am, put on your serum and do something else like put on your clothes and come back after that to put on your moisturizer.
If you let the first product absorb, the second often won’t cause pilling
Rubbing in your products too much
This is definitely a temptation if you’re in a rush but don’t do it.
Overworking products in an attempt to get them to absorb faster doesn’t work and leads to pilling.
The best way to resist rubbing is to dab your dime or nickel sized product into dots all over your face and neck. Pat the dots into your skin. It’s quick easy and distributes the product evenly.
If you’re having a hard time applying makeup without pilling, use the same dot method but pat in with a cosmetic sponge or a beauty blender (pink egg shaped sponge made just for applying makeup). You’ll get a nice even application (hopefully) without pilling.
This works especially well for putting makeup on over sunscreen. If this doesn’t do the trick, try adding a drop (just one drop) of facial oil to your sunscreen when you put it on.
Too much product
If you’re using too much product,the excess will just sit on your skin. Which can cause pilling and definitely leads to using more of your product than you need and having to buy more sooner. More isn’t always better.
Experiment (because you want to apply it to your neck and hands as well as your face). But here are some guidelines)
Serum- a dime sized portion should do to cover your face and neck. You might need a dab more for your hands. This might be a little more or less depending on whether the serum is thin or thick, but it’s a good guideline.
Moisturizer- a nickel sized portion patted all over your face, neck, and upper chest should do the job. A thick layer won’t do you any extra good and is more likely to result in pilling, and a greasy feeling later on.
Sunscreen- a nickel sized portion that’s applied like your moisturizer should give you coverage without pilling. Stick sunscreen, like All Weather Defense SPF 30, gives you an occlusive outer layer that protects against sun, wind, and weather. It contains no silicones, so you can put make on after you give it a few minutes to set. You may need to pat it in a little if you’re going to use a foundation.
Putting your products on in the wrong order
If you’re using more than the basic cleanse, serum, moisturize, sunscreen, be sure to layer from thinnest to heaviest.
Water based products (often your serums) before oil based products (like moisturizing creams or facial oils). This water based products will absorb more quickly and the oil based ones will sit nicely over them. Do it the other way around and you’ll end up with a salad dressing situation (oil and water aren’t going to mix).
Just like oil and water don’t mix, there are certain ingredients that are notorious for causing pilling. They’re called silicones.
Silicones are added to skincare products to sit on top of your skin to smooth it and hold in the other ingredients. By design, silicones are not absorbed into your skin. So anything you put on over it is likely to pill.
Many moisturizers and foundation makeups are silicone heavy, so if pilling is problem, you may need to cut back on one of these to stop the problem.
Just so you know, SunWindSnow doesn’t contain silicones.
Other common ingredients in skincare and makeup (mostly makeup) that are prone to causing pilling are iron oxide, talc, mica and fluorphlogopite (a synthetic version of mica typically used to create shimmer or ‘glow’ in makeup). Using too many of these or layering them on top of a silicone containing moisturizer or sunscreen, and you’re likely to end up with those unwanted little balls on your face.
Dead or flaky skin
If you’ve got a layer of flaky, or excessive dry dead skin cells, a nice moisturizing product is going to plump them up and help them roll off your face. Which is kind of like pilling.
Over time, your skin becomes less efficient at shedding dead cells and may need a helping hand.
The solution here is gentle exfoliation. Gentle is the operative word here. Using harsh, physical exfoliants (like grains, seeds, nut shell fragments, often called a scrub) tend to damage the skin barrier and ultimately make your skin more irritated and dry.
Gentle chemical exfoliants like AHAs and BHAs are better for your skin barrier’s health (you can find these in SunDown).
You can also exfoliate with a gentle rub of your clean washcloth.
Avoiding a pilling problem might mean a few tweaks to your skincare and makeup routines. We’ve formulated SunWindSnow’s skincare products to work together so that you can have a simple and effective skincare routine with no pilling problems.