Got makeup pilling? Here’s how to keep it at bay - Round Lab
The Good Skin Blog

Got makeup pilling? Here’s how to keep it at bay

Feb 20, 2023

You know it when you see it. Makeup pilling is straightforward in many ways. 

The soft clumps sitting on your foundation are hard to miss. And the only way around is through, as in…through a wash and start over, my friend. 

Cleanser, toner, serum, sunscreen, the whole spile.

It's annoying, frustrating, time-consuming, and washing your face twice back to back with a cleanser? Can't be too good for your skin barrier. 

So the big question is: What are the causes, and how to prevent makeup pilling?

Keep scrolling, and you'll find the answers to your flawless, non-pilling makeup right down below. 

Makeup pilling culprit #1: Dry, dehydrated skin

Why: Dry, dehydrated skin is prone to dry flakes. Layering the foundation on top of those dry flakes is much like painting on a peeling wall, clumps and rolled-up color balls are to be expected with each brush. 

The foundation itself aside, the base you're giving the foundation to work on greatly affects how it performs. So it's super duper crucial that you take care of your skin if you want nice makeup. 

Fix: Moisturize and exfoliate regularly. 

Now, while moisturizing daily is the universal rule, "regularly" means differently to individuals when it comes to exfoliating. 

For sensitive skin, setting up an irritation-safe, regular exfoliating routine can be particularly tricky. 

If you want to save yourself from the headache-inducing task, try Round Lab Dokdo Toner with our exclusive Protease enzyme. The exfoliating active is so gentle you could use it every day, and the combination of healing ingredients will make sure your skin barrier is well and healthy. 

But if you want something that is designed for oily skin, Round Lab Pine Calming Cica line is the way to go. 

Makeup pilling culprit #2: Pill-prone ingredients

Which one, though?

In makeup, you want to look for Silicone (anything with the "methicone" tail in the ingredient list), Iron Oxide, Talc, and Mica. 

In skincare, look for Zinc Oxide, and Titanium Dioxide - the UV filters in sunscreen. 

These ingredients stay on top of your skin to give many benefits: pigment, smoothness, shine, luster, and UV defense, but they don't mix well with water or oil-based products. So if you're striving for a seamless, blended makeup look, be very cautious of the mentioned ingredients. 

*Psst! Don't rile up from seeing talc in your makeup. A lot of misinformation is being thrown around. The truth is it's totally safe to use long-term, just a little bit inconvenient when building layers, that's all. 

Related material: Is talc safe?| Dr Dray


  • Avoid silicone-rich makeup: The higher the silicones are on the ingredient list, the more silicones there are in your product. Layering many silicones on top of one another is one highway to makeup pilling. 

If your favorite primer and foundation happen to be silicon-based, and you can't afford to say goodbye, use them deliberately with thin layers only. No need to spread primers all over when you just need to focus on the T-zone, right?

  • Use primer and foundation with the same base: With the exception of layering different silicone products, water-based and oil-based formulas can blend beautifully with their own kind.  

For smooth, long-lasting makeup, use a water-based primer with a water-based foundation and likewise with oil-based products. 

  • Opt for chemical sunscreen: The UV filters of chemical sunscreens sink into your skin instead of resting on top like physical ones. With chemical sunscreen, you have one less problem planning the layers of skincare and makeup.

To make your road to non-pilling makeup easier, don't miss out on our Round Lab Birch Sunscreen. No white cast, armed with superb chemical UV filters, antioxidant agents to fight against UV rays, and moisturizing components, it's the perfect one-step prep for your busy morning routine. Makeup or without. 

Makeup pilling culprit #3: Rush and rub application


Most of the time isn't visible until it's too late. When you hurry your routine, slapping on products without breaks, your skin doesn't have time to absorb it all. Eventually, they pile up and create a film on top. 

With the friction of your hasty brush stroke or rubbing, the surplus products will roll up into pilling. 


  • Dedicate your time to your routine: Give yourself a comfortable schedule where you have time to baby your skin with gentle motion and optimal absorption time. 

This is essential if you want to use water-resistant sunscreen beneath your makeup. 

  • Apply everything thinly and gently: Being careful with skincare dosage is a no-brainer, but it's a bit more complicated with makeup. So, here are some tips to make your makeup easier to manage. 

To have more control over your application, use a brush to apply or a damp sponge to pat in. But even before the applicator touches your face, make sure that you coat it evenly by distributing the product on the back of your hand. 

  • Choose hydrating skincare with fast-absorbing, thin texture: Realistically, not all of us have the fortune to have a chillax morning like those dreamy Youtuber GRWM videos. 

Still, hassle-free, dreamy makeup can still be achieved in 15 minutes if you cut short your skincare time with hydrating, thin, fast-absorbing formula. Things can speed up without bumps, clumps, or the risk of grease. 

Looking for a product to get the job done? We have two at your service, Round Lab Soybean Toner and Dokdo Lotion

  • Try skincare-makeup hybrid: These cool cosmetics nourish your skin while giving you the spark, the coverage, and the color. Skincare-makeup hybrids are celebrating laziness in the best way possible. We are here for it, and so should you!

Makeup pilling culprit #4: The layers are in the wrong order

Make Up Piling Products In Wrong Order


We talked about primer and foundation base, but looking at the whole layering process from skincare to makeup…your products are likely to have different bases. 

But don't fret just yet! They can still work together and give you a stunning, non-pilling finish. You just need some attention and time. 


Always go from water to cream: Toner, essence, serum, moisturizer, SPF. Save your facial oil for your night routine, or mix it with the moisturizer if you're skin is really parched. Still, we recommend you double down the hydration by topping up your toner or essence.  

Let your skincare mingle into your skin and test if they're dry to the touch. Then, primer, foundation, and concealer. 

Follow this order, and you should be golden.


There's a reason why people doing makeup professionally are called "artists", good products can take you so far without proper techniques. 

And we could all use a little help to lessen the heartbreaks of trial and error. 

Below, you will find some pointers to level up your makeup game.

DO mix Dokdo lotion and foundation for a dewy, luminous look. 

DO use the dotting technique for skincare and a makeup spatula for your foundation. They spread out the products wonderfully, giving thin layers and even coverage. 

DON'T miss out on a concealer brush if you have acne bumps and acne scars. Also, if you want to smoothen those pesky bumps, opt for pot concealer instead of concealer sticks. 

DON'T skip setting spray and setting powder. 

For once in a blue moon, when you want super long-lasting makeup, use a setting spray between your makeup layers. Just don't make it a daily habit layering your setting spray as it can be quite drying. 

Before you leave

Remember that beautiful makeup starts with beautiful skin. So always takes care of your skin first, then, we promise, your makeup will be radiant.