Why Your Serum Is Pilling — And How to Fix It
If you’ve ever gone through your skin-care routine only to feel little flakes or gunk on top of your skin at the end, then it’s likely your products are pilling. It can happen to the best of us, and while it’s annoying, it can be fixed with a little reorganization or a few product swaps. To find out what causes pilling in the first place and how to prevent it from happening, keep reading.
What Is pilling?
“Pilling happens when you’re rubbing a skin-care product on the skin and it never quite soaks in,” says board-certified dermatologist and Visha Skincare founder Purvisha Patel, MD. The result is product collecting on the surface that feels like little flakes or balls instead of being fully absorbed into the skin.
What Causes Pilling?
In some cases, pilling happens when a product that is too thick is placed on top of an occlusive barrier, which seals skin and prevents product from getting in. Pilling can also occur when too many products are being used at the same time or in the wrong order. Certain ingredients, like silicones, may also be to blame.
How to Prevent Pilling
You can avoid pilling altogether by using fewer products in your routine or choosing products with more active ingredients to get maximum results without layering. Dr. Patel recommends the Visha Skincare Advanced Correcting Serum with Illuminotex, which is designed to address hyperpigmentation while also minimizing the appearance of large pores. Looking for something a little more budget-friendly? Try the La Roche-Posay Mela-D Pigment Control Glycolic Acid Serum. It’s formulated with 10% glycolic acid, kojic acid and micro-exfoliating lipo-hydroxy acid to help reduce the look of discoloration and improve skin radiance.
If you can’t let go of your ten-step-routine, Dr. Patel recommends applying products from thinnest consistency to thickest, starting with water-based serums and working your way up to thicker creams and oils. This will ensure your serum is as close to your bare skin so that it will fully absorb.
If you happen to apply your skin care in the wrong order or accidentally layer in an occlusive product before your serum, Dr. Patel recommends washing it all off and starting from the beginning. Also note that products can’t penetrate dirty skin (think dirt, sweat, oil and makeup), so it’s important to start with a cleansed canvas before applying any other layers.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn