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What are those tiny, flaky balls that sometimes form on the skin when you're putting on skincare products?

Do you often get annoying grainy balls forming on top of your skincare and makeup, causing your precious products to roll off your face? It's called pilling and we have anti-pilling tips.

It’s happened to the best of us – you slather on the facial serum, smooth on the nourishing face oil, and pat in the moisturiser, only to have the whole expensive concoction literally rolling off your face just seconds later.

That's known as pilling – one of the reasons it happens is because the products you’ve layered on your face don’t agree with one another and end up coagulating into tiny granules that flake off.

(Photo: iStock)

It's not to be confused with skin peeling, which essentially is flaking skin that is the result of damage from the environment such as sun burn.

There are several other reasons why your skincare and makeup don’t absorb into or sit nicely on your skin. CNA Lifestyle tells you how to avoid this situation. 

(Photo: iStock)

Not pausing to let your serum sink in before slathering on the next layer of skincare, or immediately slapping on your foundation right after your sunscreen may be causing your skincare or makeup to mix and react in a bad way.

We recommend at least a minute between products. Practise mindfulness and slow living – put on one layer of skincare or makeup, and b-r-e-a-t-h-e… perhaps even go and do something else first, like have a cup of coffee or pick your outfit, before moving on to the next layer.

(Photo: iStock)

Silicones are very common ingredients in skincare and makeup, as they render products smooth and silky while preventing moisture loss. The problem is that they tend to sit on the surface of the skin, and when two products with silicones are layered together, neither absorb well and may start reacting, causing pilling.

One way to reduce this is to make sure your products are silicone-free, or at least that the top five ingredients on the ingredient list don’t contain silicones. For makeup products with silicones, apply a little at a time and let each layer sit before applying more. For a silicone-free moisturiser, try Clarins' Hydra-Essential Light Cream.

Clarins Hydra-Essential Light Cream, S$85 for 50ml. (Photo: Clarins)
(Photo: iStock)

General rule of thumb: Put the lightest products on first, as they will absorb better. This means your water-based skincare should go on first, before your heavier oil-based products. Rich facial creams or oils should go on last, as these tend to sit on skin to keep active ingredients and moisture in. Anything you put on top of that may not have a chance to penetrate, and will end up pilling on your skin.

If you can, don’t mix ingredients that are too different, such as oil-based and water-based products, as they may end up reacting. Pro tip if you need both your oils and water-based products: Use oils on your skin one day, and water-based gels such as Kiehl's Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream the next day.

Kiehl’s Calendula Water Cream, S$68 for 50ml. (Photo: Kiehl's)
(Photo: iStock)

While the pills that form on your skin aren’t dead skin – they're products that don’t absorb well  exfoliating regularly is still a good idea, as that aids in the absorption of skincare, and prevents a situation where your skincare can’t penetrate a layer of dead skin cells. Try local skincare brand Sigi Skin’s Bright Skies, a gentle peeling gel with natural botanical ingredients that removes dead skin cells and brightens skin. 

Sigi Skin’s Bright Skies Exfoliator, S$52 for 30ml. (Photo: Sigi Skin)
(Photo: iStock)

If you find your skincare often pilling, perhaps you’re using more products than your skin can handle, and using too much of each type of skincare.

Try paring down your regimen, and using skincare with the same kind of base, like only water-based products or only oils, for example, to reduce chances of flaking. Gently pat in a small amount at a time and put it on in layers, waiting for each layer to absorb, instead of rubbing large portions of it on your skin at one time.

It may also be worth exploring using tools that help in absorption, such as skincare devices and massage tools such as the newly launched Est.Lab LumiGlow SmartSkin Buddy. 

Est.Lab LumiGlow SmartSkin Buddy, S$298. (Photo: Est Lab)
(Photo: iStock)
Besides helping you to slow down in between skincare steps, a hydrating spritz, Chantecaille's Pure Rosewater for example, would help products penetrate better and deeper, letting each ingredient sink in, reducing the chances of products pilling and flaking off. Just remember to let each layer absorb and dry completely between applying the next, and pat, not rub. Also, resist the urge to touch your face after all that layering and hard work – just let the skincare do its magic.
Chantecaille Pure Rosewater (Limited Edition), S$129. (Photo: Chantecaille)
Source: CNA/yy