It's. The. WORST.
It's an annoying occurrence most commonly associated with old knitwear, but 'pilling' can happen on your face, too. Specifically when applying your skincare and make-up.
You know in the morning, after you've finished your skincare routine and layered your favourite moisturiser over that vitamin C serum, then patted in primer, SPF, buffed in foundation and suddenly, those tiny little bobbles start forming, entirely ruining your perfect MUA-level application and the only choice you have is to take it all off and start again. 10 minutes of your life down the drain that you could have spent doing something productive (read: lying in bed). We've all been there, my friend. But what exactly are those tiny bobbles, and how can we prevent it?
What's with those annoying bobbles?
"It's called pilling, and it's the effect of either over-layering products, or when product textures don't agree with each other combined with the friction of hand/brush application, resulting in bobbles of product appearing on the skin, a bit like flakes of rubber when you rub something out on paper," says says Ada Ooi, founder of 001 Skincare and celebrity facialist to the likes of Lily Allen, Ellie Goulding and Rooney Mara.
What causes it?
As with most skin complaints, the first place to look is the ingredients label. There are several pilling culprits in our make-up and skincare, but the main ingredient to look out for is silicone.
"Pilling happens when products containing silicones are being layered," explains Ada. "Silicone is a family of occlusive ingredients, which sit on the surface of the skin and are not properly absorbed, meaning that friction occurs with application."
"Another culprit is gel-form products, when you don't allow enough time for drying or proper absorption before applying another product, the polymer left on the skin can easily act up with the other product you're rubbing in."
According to Ada, SPF is a tricky one too. "The whole idea of SPF is that it stays on the skin to protect from sun rays, so when you layer make-up over the top it may just repel, leaving your skin looking shiny or uneven."
How do we stop it happening?
The main way to prevent pilling is to tone down the silicone-based products, and the general rule of thumb is that the higher the concentration of an ingredient in a product, the higher it'll appear on the ingredients list.
Other tips to prevent pilling include waiting longer between application stages, applying a bit less product, exfoliating regularly and making sure to apply water-based skincare before oil-based products. This is a general rule of skincare layering, as the thinner water-based formulas can't penetrate the heavier oil ones and won't be properly absorbed.
As for SPF, using a beauty blender for make-up application can reduce the chance of pilling as it effectively presses the product into the skin, rather than the rubbing action we tend to do with our hands.
Follow these clever tips and hopefully pilling will be a thing of the past.
Written by Ali Pantony.
This article originally appeared on Glamour UK.