Ask The Beauty Editor: ‘How Can I Stop My Skincare From Pilling?’

By Ashleigh Cometti
Collage / Julia Gessler

Dear Beauty Editor,

I’ve just started a new skincare regime and while I love the ritual of applying it, I don’t love how the product balls up into little granules instead of absorbing into my skin. It’s especially frustrating in the mornings when I’m trying to apply makeup on top.

Help! How can I stop this from happening?


Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

What you’re experiencing is known in beauty land is pilling where your skincare collects into little balls that sit on top of skin instead of achieving the desired effect of sinking in.

In the same way that your favourite woollen jumper can form little bobbles, products can ball up and combine with dead skin cells, wasting skincare and time. The worst part is, the more you rub, the worse it gets.

Thankfully, pilling is easily prevented. According to The Facialist founder Ashleigh Scott, there are six simple reasons why your skincare could be pilling.

Firstly, your products may be pilling because you’re applying them in the wrong order. A good rule of thumb to follow is applying products from lightest to heaviest in terms of texture, Ashleigh says. “Watery products like toners or essences first, followed by serums, then creams, then SPF in the morning or oils at night,” she explains.

If you’re using a zinc-based SPF (commonly found in physical sunscreens), Ashleigh recommends trying a different new technique try pressing this into skin with your fingers as opposed to rubbing. Rubbing can cause friction and can lead to the product balling up along the skin instead of settling on top in an even layer.

In some cases, pilling can be caused by not leaving enough time in between applying each product in our routine. Try to allow at least a minute between each layer to allow it to fully absorb into the skin before going in with your next product. If you’re pressed for time in the mornings, use each break between layers to make a coffee or brush your teeth so the wait doesn’t feel as long.

Starting a new skincare routine is exciting for a number of reasons, but Ashleigh recommends avoiding layering too many products. “If you like lots of serums, perhaps separate them so you’re using one in the morning and one in the evening,” she says. Pare your routine down to the absolute essentials.

It’s also a good idea to take stock of how much product you’re using. While we understand it’s tempting to smooth on a generous helping of night cream or douse your face in a nourishing facial oil, it can lead to some not-so-pretty results. Always use the amount directed check out the usage directions on your skincare packaging as a guide of how much (or how little) to use.

There’s an unspoken ‘Goldilocks Rule’ when it comes to regular exfoliation a mode that’s “just right” for your skin type. Generally, this looks like once a week for dry skin types, or two to three times a week for combination or oily skin types. Exfoliate too much and this can affect how products sit on the skin or damage your skin barrier, exfoliate too little and products may not absorb properly.

If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still struggling, it could be that the formulas you’re using are incompatible, Ashleigh says. Consider booking in for a skin consultation at The Facialist, where Ashleigh and her team of experts can advise you on how best to layer your skincare, and if what you’re using plays nicely. “We would reassess which products you’re using together,” Ashleigh explains. See



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