This week, as I was rescheduling a video consultation, I received an email from a lovely lady asking for my thoughts on skin pilling. It got me thinking that while skincare formulators understand why this happens and how to prevent it, the general public is pretty much left in the dark. So, today, I wanted to shed some light on this phenomenon and share some useful tips on how to stop it from happening.
What is “Skin Pilling”?
Not everyone will have heard of the term skin pilling. However, chances are most of us will have experienced it at some point. I like to compare it to when we use a rubber to erase something written in pencil. The tiny bits left on the paper look and feel so similar to the ones some skincare formulas leave on our skin, especially if we have layered various products (makeup or skincare) on top of each other.
These flaky little balls form when a product fails to soak into our skin correctly. Instead of being absorbed, it remains on the skin’s surface as tiny particles that roll back off.
The main culprits that cause this phenomenon are formulas containing molecules classified as “film formers”. The most common ones used in today’s beauty industry are polymers (seen on labels as copolymers or cross polymers), silicones (think water-resistant SPF products and foundations), and pullulan (natural lifting products). What’s more, even omnipresent ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed collagen, aloe vera gel, and mineral oil can cause skin pilling.
How to Prevent Pilling When Applying Your Skincare Routine
As it is virtually impossible to avoid most of the previously mentioned ingredients, we recommend trying the following tips to prevent pilling when applying your skincare favourites:
- Formulas typically pill when applied too heavily. Try experimenting with less product or apply your usual amount in two separate stages.
- Observe any potential pilling after applying every individual product. Sometimes the cause is down to using the combination of several formulas containing film formers and your routine would benefit from being tweaked. (Switching some AM products to PM and vice versa.)
- A helping hand. Apply a small amount of oil or serum before the product that causes pilling. Pilling can happen when your skin absorbs a product too quickly.
- Switch up the order. Try applying your products from lightest to heaviest and remember to give plenty of time for the products to dry between layers.
While skin pilling may not be a major concern, it can impact the effectiveness of your skincare routine. So, it is worth keeping an eye on this issue for better results. It is those small details that can make a big difference in achieving the radiant and healthy skin you desire. Taking note of this issue and addressing it appropriately can lead to a more effective and rewarding skincare experience long term.