Why Is My Sunscreen Pilling?

Sunscreen is an essential part of our skincare routine, protecting our skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, one common issue that many people face is their sunscreen pilling. Pilling refers to the formation of small balls or clumps of product that roll off the skin, leaving a messy residue behind. In this article, we will explore the possible reasons why your sunscreen is pilling and the ways to prevent it.

Possible Causes of Sunscreen Pilling

  1. Incorrect Application

One of the most common reasons for sunscreen pilling is incorrect application. When applied incorrectly, the sunscreen may not properly absorb into the skin, leading to the formation of small clumps or balls that roll off the surface. To avoid this issue, it is essential to apply the sunscreen evenly and in the right amount.

  1. Interaction with Other Skincare Products

Another reason why your sunscreen may be pilling is due to an interaction with other skincare products. When different products are applied on top of each other, they can sometimes react with each other, causing the sunscreen to pill. This is particularly true when using products that contain silicone or other emollients.

  1. Excess Oil Production

If you have oily skin, excess sebum production can also contribute to sunscreen pilling. When the sunscreen comes into contact with excess oil, it can become sticky and form clumps that roll off the skin.

  1. Water Exposure

Sunscreen can also pill when it comes into contact with water. This is because most sunscreens are water-resistant, meaning they are designed to stay on the skin even when exposed to water. However, when the sunscreen is exposed to water for an extended period, it can become diluted and form small clumps.

Ways to Prevent Sunscreen Pilling

  1. Apply the Sunscreen Correctly

To prevent sunscreen pilling, it is essential to apply the product correctly. Start by cleansing and moisturizing your skin before applying the sunscreen. Wait a few minutes for the moisturizer to absorb before applying the sunscreen in a thin, even layer. Avoid rubbing the sunscreen into your skin aggressively and allow it to absorb fully before applying any other products.

  1. Use the Right Skincare Products

To prevent any interaction between skincare products, it is essential to use the right products. Avoid using products that contain silicone or other emollients, which can cause the sunscreen to pill. Instead, opt for lightweight, oil-free products that are designed to be used with sunscreen.

  1. Blot Excess Oil

If you have oily skin, blotting excess oil throughout the day can help prevent sunscreen pilling. Use oil-absorbing sheets or a tissue to blot away any excess oil, particularly in areas where you tend to produce more oil.

  1. Reapply After Water Exposure

If you plan on spending time in the water, it is essential to reapply your sunscreen after exposure. This will help prevent the sunscreen from becoming diluted and forming clumps.


Sunscreen pilling can be an annoying issue, leaving a messy residue on the skin and compromising its effectiveness. By following the tips mentioned above, you can prevent sunscreen pilling and ensure that your skin stays protected from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV radiation. Remember to consult with a dermatologist if you continue to experience issues with sunscreen pilling or any other skincare concerns.

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