Is Your Sunscreen Pilling? Here’s How To Prevent It

How to Prevent Sunscreen Pilling

It’s difficult to find a good sunscreen you like as it is, and now you have to make sure it doesn’t rub off? Because if it does, you experience what’s called “pilling”. Pilling is when your skincare products seem to be repelled by your skin and just stay on it until they build up into little rolls and just rub off. It’s one thing when your moisturizer is pilling. But when your sunscreen is pilling, it means that your skin doesn’t get the proper sun protection it needs. It’s vulnerable to damaging UV rays. That’s why it’s important to find out what causes sunscreen pilling and how you can prevent it.

There may be several reasons why your sunscreen is pilling. It might be the actual sunscreen but it might also be what you’re applying on your skin before the sunscreen. Also, it might be your skincare routine or the way you apply your products.

But first and foremost, you need to exonerate your sunscreen! To find out whether or not your sunscreen is the one that’s causing pilling, here’s what you do.

Apply your sunscreen on clean, dry skin. Don’t put anything on before or after it. Just use it alone. Trust me, there are simple moisturizers that fail this test! I’ve seen a $60 moisturizer come off my bare face!

After you apply your sunscreen, give it a few minutes to settle and then see if there is any pilling. If it’s pilling, then it’s going to pill every single time no matter what you pair it with.

It means that the ingredients in it don’t go well with your skin. In that case, you might want to toss it away. If there’s no pilling, there might be a way to salvage it.

Here’s how to prevent your sunscreen from pilling.

1. Be aware of the ingredients.

Some ingredients are notorious for causing pilling. And the most popular of the bunch is silicone aka dimethicone. Silicones are occlusive ingredients that are meant to create a barrier on top of the skin.

They are great for preventing dry skin. But when you apply anything on top of that, you may experience pilling. Oils are also occlusive. But even they are not as bad as silicones.

Moreover, if both your moisturizer and your sunscreen contain silicones, they’re bound to repel each other, causing pilling on the skin. Go for light-based moisturizers that are rich in humectants.

They absorb better. And apply your sunscreen on top. If your skin isn’t too dry, you can skip the moisturizer altogether as long as you apply a hydrating serum.

2. Layer properly.

Layering your products in the wrong order before moving on to the sunscreen can also cause pilling. There’s definitely a right way to layer. Before you put anything on, apply your lightest skincare products on clean skin and apply your sunscreen last.

When you don’t abide by the “from thinnest to thickest” rule, your products stay on the skin, some of which are supposed to be penetrating the skin. When they don’t, you have yourself a skincare jumble soup.

3. Let the products absorb.

Your products need a few minutes to settle in. If you layer them without allowing them to dry first, you’re basically mixing them with each other and moving them around. This may be another reason why your sunscreen doesn’t stay put and just rubs off. Let them soak in and dry down to prevent sunscreen from pilling.

Apply your serum and wait for it to fully absorb. Only then apply your lotions and creams. Wait for them to absorb too before applying your sunscreen. And lastly, apply an even layer of sunscreen and allow it to dry before moving on to makeup.

4. Don’t use too much.

It’s tempting to slather a hyaluronic acid serum or a rich moisturizer on dry, parched skin. But using a lot of products and using more than you should prevent your products from absorbing and cause them to stay on the skin. If you’re not sure about the amount of each skincare product to use, here’s a rough guide.

If it’s a face serum, especially a goopy, tacky formula, use no more than 2-3 drops and press the serum in. If it’s a moisturizer, try getting a nickel-sized amount on the tip of your fingers at first instead of putting dots on the skin. Using your fingertips, press the moisturizer in and spread it out to a thin layer.

Also, it’s best to prioritize. Keep your heavy products and 10-step layering for the PM routine. We’re wearing face masks, which can worsen product and sunscreen pilling because of friction. Try to keep things essential. This alone minimizes sunscreen pilling to a great extent.

5. Make sure it’s not your skincare routine.

Oily, congested skin causes serums to stay on top of the skin, let alone your sunscreen. If you’re not washing your face properly or exfoliating regularly, your skin may be the one contributing to sunscreen pilling.

If other products in your routine, not just your sunscreen, peel off your skin too, you need to pay more attention to your skincare routine and start doing something about those dead skin cells piling on top of your skin. When your base is the problem, even the lightest, no-pill sunscreen can flake off and pill.

6. Try a different formula.

You may have tried all of these and may still be dealing with pilling. It’s more than understandable to want to work with what you have instead of reaching for a new product. But don’t give up on sun protection just yet. Maybe it’s time to try different solutions.

There are SPF moisturizers that allow you to do more with less. Fenty’s Hydra Vizor is what’s getting me through this summer. There are tinted SPF moisturizers that basically render your other products redundant.

Similarly, there are sunscreens in serum form that are very unlikely to cause pilling. There are also powder sunscreens you just swipe across the skin. Take advantage of those!

You can also experience sunscreen pilling on your body. And the same rules apply to your body too. Dry brushing, body peels, body serums can help. But if nothing seems to be working, try spray body sunscreens.

So these are some of the best ways to prevent sunscreen pilling. Sun protection is important if you want to maintain healthy, youthful skin and prevent premature aging. A good sunscreen is a great investment. And you may need to do some trial and error at first. But it’s probably the only product that’s worth the effort.

Read Next: The Best Sunscreens To Wear Over Makeup

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