Why Skincare Products Pill or Ball Up and What Can You Do About It

I must admit, the struggle is real! Ever had your products start balling up on your face as if your skin was peeling off? Maybe you've noticed it right away after applying certain makeup or skincare on top of one another. Or it could be hours later, when you touch your face and it feels like it's covered in tiny flakes!
Either way, it's SO annoying. But this phenomenon—known as "pilling"—is a common pitfall when layering skincare products.

Pilling happens when products haven't absorbed into the skin, whether due to:

  • the type of ingredient
  • the amount applied
  • the other products you're using
  • the condition of your skin


What can you do about it?

  1. Exfoliate regularly: The little balls that form are composed of product, not dead skin. But it's still important to maintain a good exfoliation routine, because it will help your products absorb more effectively, rather than remaining on top of a surface wall of dead skin cells.
  2. Stay away from silicones: Silicones are one of the worst ingredients for pilling, because they lay on top of the skin to smooth its surface, instead of being fully absorbed. You may be able to eliminate pilling by switching to a silicone-free or low-silicone makeup and skincare routine. 
  3. Use less product is best: Your skin can only absorb so much at once, using less is best most of the time.
  4. Don't rub the products in too much: The more you rub the skincare into your skin, the more you disturb the products and encourage them to pill. Use light, patting motions to apply your skincare, and resist the urge to touch your face more than necessary.
  5. Layer products in the correct order and make sure they have compatible ingredients: Have you heard the saying that oil and water don't mix? Same applies with pilling! When ingredients are too different, they may ball up. Try separating your oil-based skincare from your water-based skincare, if possible. An example of this would be you'd layer an oil-free moisturizer over a watery serum, or apply a face oil on top of an oil-based serum. 
  6. Add a couple of drops of oil to your products: If you can't stick to only water-based or only oil-based skincare routine, adding a drop or two of oil to your serum or moisturizer may do the trick.
  7. Mist your face with toner before applying any products on your face and in between layers: Damp skin helps products penetrate better! Try lightly spritzing your face with toner prior to applying your first product, and again in between each layer of skincare. Your skin should more readily accept the ingredients, reducing leftover residue.
  8. Wait in between product layers a couple of minutes to make sure they are fully absorbed and dried before applying the next layer: It may not always solve the problem, but it's worth checking to see if waiting makes difference. Give each layer some added time to be fully absorbed, and make sure your skin is completely dry to the touch before adding the next product. 


Recommended products and the order used from Poet's Garden Apothecary:

  • Use our "Immaculate Oil Face Cleanser" morning and night and remove with a wet microfiber towel for best results, use warm water.
  • Spritz your skin with an alcohol free toner.
  • Use your favorite serum, we recommend our "Radiant" Vitamin C serum for a glowing and brighter complexion. Make sure to pat the serum into the skin and wait until completely dried before adding your moisturizer. You do not need to use much!
  • During the day try our "Drench" moisturizer and at night time you can try our "Rejuvenate" moisturizer. Maker sure to pat into the skin and you may spritz your skin with toner prior to the application of any moisturizer.
  • Wear SPF during day time.


Hope this tips help you, because I am aware the struggle is real!

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Virginia Guarddon, Founder