This Is Why Your Skincare Products Flake

And how to avoid it.
PHOTO: Jeffrey Westbrook/Studio D

These days, slapping on pressed powder and heading out the door just won’t do. Nope, thanks to such things as the multi-step Korean skincare routine and our obsession with wanting flawless complexion, most people apply a number of products even before they get to liquid foundation. Toner, serum, sunscreen, primer… The list goes on.

Which is why you’ve likely experienced some pilling when you start dabbing or buffing on your skin with a foundation sponge or brush. Those little flakes of balled-up product might even make you question the quality of the things you use—but don’t overhaul your routine just yet!

To clear up this issue once and for all, reached out to Dr. Rachel Nazarian of the Schweiger Dermatology Group. Her answer? It’s pretty straightforward: You’re putting too much product on your face. “There's a limit to how much your skin will absorb at the same time, so apply less if you're noticing it pilling rather than absorbing,” she explained. It’s also possible that the ingredients don’t mesh well together. “The ingredients being mixed are too dissimilar, i.e., water-, silicone-, and wax-based,” Dr. Nazarian shared.

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The solution? First, it’s important to remember that the order of products matter. A LOT. Lightest to thickest is the way to go—so toner, essence, serum, moisturizer, and eye cream. Sunscreen is the exception, as it’s always the last step of your skincare routine.

Second, follow this super simple hack. Begin your routine while your skin is still damp, so product absorbs quicker. Lightly dab the product into your skin, and remember to wait a few minutes between steps. Hopefully, that saves you from unsightly pilling!

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