Product Pilling: Here’s Why It’s Happening to You

Have you ever felt the skin care products on your face start to ball up – similar to those pesky fluffballs on your favourite cashmere sweater? If so, then you are yet another victim of product pilling. Find out what you can do to prevent this frustrating phenomenon!

First of all, what is product pilling?
You might associate pilling with your softest knitwear, but the same thing can happen with your skin care products. Knitwear pilling is when small balls of fibre accumulate on your sweater, usually in high friction areas such as the underarms. Product pilling on the other hand, is when your skin care products stick to one another instead of absorbing into your skin. The result? Grey, wormlike balls that form as you apply your moisturiser or make-up – hardly ideal when you’re running late and have to start your routine over from scratch.

What causes product pilling?
While it can be a combination of factors, some of the most common reasons for product pilling include:

1. Using too much product
A little goes a long way, and this is especially true of many skin care products. If you’re using too much moisturiser or one that is too heavy for your skin type, then it will have a harder time absorbing into your skin, turning excess product into a pilling nightmare.

What to do instead? This is an easy fix – simply apply less/or a lighter product to your face to encourage quicker absorption!

2. Being in a hurry
Product pilling is a common occurrence when you’re strapped for time. The reason? Not giving one product enough time to absorb into your skin before applying the next one. Hastily applying the second layer causes friction that results in the first layer rubbing off.

What to do instead? Don’t rush the process. Give a product time to absorb before applying the next layer. You can incorporate this time into the rest of your routine, for example by brushing your teeth after moisturising or styling your hair after applying your foundation.

3. Not exfoliating often enough
Applying skin care products and make-up to layers upon layers of dead skin cells is the perfect recipe for pilling, as dead skin cells don’t absorb products as well as freshly scrubbed and exfoliated skin cells.

What to do instead? Make regular exfoliation a key part of your skin care routine, in order to promote and optimise skin cell turnover. This is especially important during the chilly winter months when many tend to have an excess of dead, flaky skin. Our Novage Skin Renewing Peel gently polishes away dead skin, make-up, and dirt – for a radiant, flake-free complexion.


4. Incompatible products
Sometimes the very thing you love about a product can also cause the very thing you hate. This is true of silicone-based products – often found in your foundation or primer, they are usually used to create a barrier for moisture loss while also smoothing out the complexion. Unfortunately, this also means that applying a silicone-based foundation on top of a moisturiser containing silicone can result in a clash of products – and that dreaded pilling.

What to do instead? Avoid caking silicone-based products on top of one another and reduce the number of silicone-based products you use in your routine. If you’re using a silicone-based foundation, avoid a moisturiser with silicone as an ingredient.

5. Applying products in the wrong order
It’s important to think about both the ingredients and the order of application when it comes to your routine. Water-based products come first, as they are more readily absorbed by the skin, while oil-based products seal in moisture and should be applied last. Applying oil-based products first will block skin absorption and cause your water-based products to ball up on your face.

Hopefully these handy tips can help you bid farewell to those wormlike balls and ruined mornings!

Want more inspiration? Check this out: “Your Must-read Foundation Guide”.

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