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Why is My Skincare Pilling?

Why is My Skincare Pilling

We’ve all been there, after spending 10 minutes on your skincare routine, you reach the last layer only to find everything rolling on your skin. There are several reasons why skincare products roll on the skin, a phenomenon also referred to as pilling. Let's explore these reasons and learn how to ensure a smoother application.


Healthy skin has a cellular turnover rate of 28 days. So the life cycle of a skin cell is about one month, at which time cells die, move to the surface of the skin, and fall off or are shed. Our skin’s cellular life cycle naturally slows down as we grow older.

Now, imagine oily skin with a cell turnover rate of 28 days.

skincare exfoliating

The sebum produced acts like glue, reducing the ability for keratinized (dead) cells to fall off as they should. This can lead to a buildup of dead cells on the skin that, in turn, can impair product penetration, resulting in products pilling when applied. Dry skin is also affected, as the dried skin cells on the surface of the skin also prevent products from penetrating the skin, causing the same pilling phenomenon. We know that when we exfoliate, it increases the cell turnover rate, making this step extremely important to ensure prolonged skin health and product penetration.


When applying skincare products, it's essential to start with aqueous products before layering on lipidic ones. However, it's crucial to ensure that the aqueous products are fully absorbed before applying lipidic products. As we're aware, oil and water don't mix, but once the water-based product has penetrated the skin, lipidic products can be applied.

Some oils and ingredients, like silicones, come in the form of oils and gels, and they absorb into the skin to create an occlusive barrier. These are intended to stay on the skin's surface to protect it and enhance its barrier function. If another product, like foundation, is applied on top of these occlusives, it can cause friction, leading to pilling.

Products containing mineral SPF, such as zinc and titanium dioxide, can also cause pilling because they form physical barriers on the skin's surface to reflect sunlight. When makeup is applied over these SPF products or when friction occurs, pilling may result.


Silicones are highly susceptible to causing pilling because they create a film on the skin that hinders product absorption. Combining oil-based and water-based products can also contribute to pilling. By carefully examining skincare product labels, you'll often find that creams are predominantly aqueous-based, while serums lean towards oil-based formulations. It's advisable to adhere to these distinctions and either layer water-based and oil-based products together or ensure complete absorption of each product before applying another to minimize the risk of pilling.


Severely dehydrated skin poses a problem as it hampers product absorption, thus increasing the likelihood of pilling. Think of a dry sponge that hasn't been used yet.

If we put a drop of food colouring on it, the colour will initially remain on top, but when it finally penetrates the sponge, the colour will remain concentrated in one spot. However, if the sponge is humid when applying food colouring on it, the colour will be rapidly absorbed and spread throughout the sponge.

Using a hydrating mist mimics how water saturates a sponge. Spraying the skin before applying any oil- or water-based products helps hydrate the skin, facilitating better product absorption.


Excessive facial hair can impede product absorption. Dermaplaning offers a solution by exfoliating and removing hair, offering dual benefits. If dermaplaning is not an option, applying skincare products in upward motions helps lift the hair, promoting better product penetration.

How to Fix Product Pilling?

To summarize:

  • Exfoliate your skin regularly, not only to avoid pilling but also to maintain skin health.

  • Pair similar products together—for example, oil-based with oil-based and water-based with water-based. If mixing water-based and oil-based products, apply the water-based one first and let it fully absorb before applying the oil-based product.

  • Avoid products with a high concentration of silicone.

  • Ensure the skin is well hydrated.

  • Remove excess superfluous hair.

Taking these steps will allow you to say goodbye to pilling forever.

In conclusion, understanding the causes of skincare pilling empowers us to take proactive steps towards smoother, more effective skincare routines. By prioritizing regular exfoliation, proper product layering, and addressing factors like dehydration and hair obstruction, we can bid farewell to the frustration of pilling and unlock the full potential of our skincare products. With expert guidance from Lavoom Salon, we can tailor our skincare regimen to our unique needs, ensuring optimal results and radiant, healthy skin. Click here to schedule your personalized appointment today!

Don't keep these secrets to yourself—share this post with fellow skincare enthusiasts and let's ignite a glow-up revolution together!

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