Q: How Do I Stop My Sunscreen From Pilling On My Face? - The Skincare Edit

Q: How Do I Stop My Sunscreen From Pilling On My Face?

Or any other skin product.
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Ever had this problem? So did reader T., who had this question after I wrote my sunscreen slacker post last week (go back and read it if you hate sunscreen!):

I've been having a problem w/ zinc based sunscreens in that when applied, they ball or pill off the face. I know it must be applied in a light and careful manner, but I'm still having problems. The few times I've been able to apply it correctly, it ends up balling/pilling off when I attempt to apply my face powder. Any tips on how to avoid this? I'd rather use a physical sunscreen vs. a chemical one. Thanks!

Here's (an edited version of) my advice:

The whole sunscreen/skincare balling up problem SUX. Especially when you otherwise love the product and it's doing this to you. How rude!

So first of all, check your application procedure (and as you follow these steps try not to rub—just pat, gently).


The Golden Rule is: No matter what you're putting on your face, you need to let every single layer absorb thoroughly before applying the next one.

So, if you apply serum (which you definitely should, on bare, just-cleansed and exfoliated skin), wait 10 minutes to let it sink in.

Next, apply moisturizer (if you need it—most normal/oily types can get away without in the summer) and wait 10 minutes again.

THEN, you need to apply a layer of sunscreen on top, and—you guessed it—wait another 10 minutes to apply your makeup.

Now OKAY. I get it—all of this waiting sounds like a royal pain in the bum, right? Who has the time? So this is why we go for multi-tasking products—or at least sunscreens that double as moisturizers with added skincare benefits.

Of course, you wouldn't need to do quite so much waiting if your products aren't balling up on you—obviously. (Although it's still a good idea to let your serum, at least, sink in—it's the product that is chock full of beauty goodness... otherwise you're sort of wasting your money by spreading it around and diluting it with other products.)

And all of this brings me to the sunscreen that I recommend time and time again, which NEVER DOES THE BALLING/PILLING THING TO ME.

Sorry folks, I just can't resist plugging this product again (I swear they do not pay me!) because it is just THAT GOOD.

I'm talking about Pure + Simple's sunscreen line, which was recently reformulated to remove the vitamin A after the Environmental Working Group released this report about a preliminary FDA study—apparently the ingredient causes skin sensitivity, resulting in an increased chances of skin cancer development.

They sent me some samples of the new version to try and I can confirm that they are as great as my original batch (and all smell so lovely!). I've been using the oily skin one in the summer but I might just switch to the slightly-more-moisturizing sensitive skin one for winter. My mom is testing the anti-aging one and loving it too.

And if you're bored of me talking about it, then check out reader Angela's testimonal here.

So those are my tips... Do you have any others to stop sunscreens or other skincare products from balling up or pilling on the face? Which sunscreen is YOUR fave?

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