This is why your foundation is pilling & how you can stop it

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If you’ve experienced foundation pilling in the past (or even currently), you’ll know it’s a frustrating process. Especially if it prompts you to start over with your skincare and makeup routine to get the base right again.

Foundation pilling can be most noticeable almost immediately upon application, it either looks like the makeup is flaking off or it rubs off into a pill shape all around the face.

Here are five solutions to stop foundation pilling and help get your base looking as silky smooth as can be.

1. Exfoliate regularly

If exfoliation isn’t a part of your skincare routine by now, it’s time to reconsider as it helps to remove dead skin cells.

This step alone can help smoothen your skin texture, brighten, and even the skin tone, allow for products to sink in fully to the skin and help your foundation go on smoothly.

There are many exfoliating options to consider, from exfoliating pads to acids like salicylic, lactic, and glycolic. But if you’re new to this step, it’s best to go easy and pick an exfoliating product with the lowest strength you can find.

2. Apply water-based products before oil-based skincare

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Given the basic chemistry takeaways, you might already know that water and oil don’t mix. Whatever your skincare routine is pre-foundation, be sure to apply it in the right order.

Stick to water-based products first before you layer on oil-based products (if you must). That way, the water-based products can fully absorb into the skin.

If oil-based products aren’t absolutely necessary in your skincare, consider leaving it out before putting on your foundation as it might be causing your makeup to separate on the skin.

3. Apply less product onto the skin and take your time

Stick to the bare necessities and apply your foundation on one pump (or drop) at a time. If you’re layering up your foundation too heavily, it might just be sitting on your skin.

And as you move through each step of your skincare routine, take your time and let the products fully absorb into the skin before moving onto the next step. This way, you ensure that the makeup grips onto the skin.

4. Pat and press

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One of the hallmark techniques of K-Beauty (and Asian beauty in general) is to pat and press instead of rubbing the product into the skin. Patting and pressing will help the product absorb evenly around the skin instead of having it move around the surface (seeing a pattern here?).

This is why many people turn to beauty blenders to do the work, as it dabs the foundation over the smooth canvas you’ve already created. Keep in mind that the beauty damper should be slightly damp (not soaking wet or dry) to help carry the product efficiently onto the skin.

5. Take a look at the ingredients and keep the silicone products to a minimum

If you’ve tried all the above, and you’re still seeing pilling, then this might be the hail mary solution.

Take a look at the ingredients behind your skincare and foundation products, if there’s silicone in them (or ingredients ending with ‘cone’) then they are likely the culprit for the foundation pilling you’ve been experiencing.

Many products include silicone in their formula because they help prevent moisture loss and leave the complexion looking silky smooth, but it also just sits on the skin and doesn’t fully absorb.

Try not to layer multiple silicone-based products onto the skin as that would encourage foundation pilling, instead stick to one first and see how that goes.

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.