You're going through the day and then someone asks that fateful question: "Is everything okay? You look like you haven't slept.”
So what's going on? Unless you're sleep-deprived, the likely explanation is that your skin looks dull.
Fortunately, there are a few easy tips that everyone can use to look brighter.
what is a dull complexion?
Skin glows when it reflects light well. The more light it reflects, the more radiant you'll appear. Your skin reflects light best when it is smooth and your skin cells are firm, supple, and plump. "Plump” might not be a word you associate with skin cells, but plump cells reflect light better, creating an enviable glow.
In contrast to radiant skin, dull skin means there isn't a lot of light being caught on your face. This makes your skin's surface looks tired and lackluster. In other words, it looks dull, giving others the impression that we are sick or not sleeping well.
what are the signs and symptoms of dull skin?
Dull skin is characterized by a rough, dry, and uneven texture. It may also appear flaky and feel less firm as well. It lacks a healthy glow. It can appear dry and flaky with dead skin cells building up on the surface of the skin.
Common symptoms are:
- Dryness and flakiness
- Lack of luster or shine
- Less than healthy-looking
- Tired looking appearance
what causes dull skin?
Skin can appear dull for a variety of reasons including lack of water intake, a lack of exfoliation, poor circulation, or the result of not exfoliating and cleansing often enough.
A dull complexion can also be caused by over-exposure to sunlight and environmental pollutants, which deplete the skin's oils and damage the health of your skin barrier.
10 most common causes of dull skin
There are a number of factors that affect your skin's radiance.
1) lack of hydration (water):
Your skin is your largest organ and it's 64% water. When we don't drink enough water, our skin becomes dehydrated and no longer looks smooth. It can feel tight and uncomfortable. Dehydration can also lead to dryness, acne, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.
2) lack of sleep
Well-rested skin is more moisturized and better able to recover from UV light exposure according to research in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. Study participants with more sleep also rated themselves as more attractive.
While you sleep, your skin regenerates and produces collagen. Blood flow to the skin increases, delivering nutrients for recovery from exposure to elements during the day. As every dermatologist will tell you, depriving your body of sleep will lead to dark circles, puffy eyes, and an increase in fine lines and wrinkles.
3) lack of exercise
Exercise helps skin look radiant because it helps stimulate collagen production and blood circulation, which results in a natural glow. If you have poor blood circulation, your cell renewal is slowed down. The consequence? You look pale, dull, and tired.
4) unbalanced diet
A balanced diet is important for your overall well-being but it's also important for your skin too. Not eating enough vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats can lead to unhealthy skin because these are exactly what the skin needs to function properly.
Researchers at the University of St Andrews showed your diet affects your skin condition and appearance. They found that “just two extra portions of fruit and [vegetables] a day for six weeks was enough to generate a detectable change in skin tone.” Participants who ate more fruits and vegetables had more of a glow. Those who ate fewer fruits and vegetables saw a reduction in skin tone. (These foods can help your skin glow.)
Besides affecting your overall health, smoking makes skin to appear duller than normal because nicotine constricts blood vessels. This causes the skin to appear duller than normal because it lacks oxygen to keep it healthy and vibrant-looking. Smoking can also make skin look dehydrated and lacking in moisture.
Stress can have a negative influence on your appearance. It can compound sleep issues and cause acne in some people because stress hormones cause the body to produce more oil, resulting in clogged pores and breakouts. Stress can also cause the skin to lose elasticity, which results in wrinkles and other signs of aging.
7) environmental exposure
Pollution, smoking, and sun exposure contribute to dull-looking skin for several reasons. They can cause a buildup of dead skin cells on the skin's surface, which gives it a rough texture. This makes it look like your natural glow is gone or that you're getting older than you actually are, both signs that make even healthy-looking skin look drab and tired. Pollution can also cause free radical damage, which is cell damage caused by unstable molecules in the air called "free radicals."
Like pollution, sun exposure can also cause a breakdown in healthy cells and a buildup of dead cells, making for a dull-looking complexion. Sun damage can also result in dark spots and uneven tone.
Your genes affect your skin in many ways but one way they can cause dull skin is if you have dry skin naturally. Genetics play an important role in determining the structure of your skin, which can affect its moisture levels and its overall firmness. If your skin is naturally smooth, it will look younger and more radiant.
When we age, the collagen and elastin that provide structure to our skin break down, leading to sagging and wrinkling. Our bodies also produce less hyaluronic acid as we age, resulting in a loss of volume and elasticity and leading to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Less hyaluronic acid also means your cells aren’t as plump….so you will look duller.
10) your skincare routine
Your skincare routine could also be dampening your glow. If you are not regularly cleansing your face, dirt and dead cells can build up leading to clogged pores, acne, and a lackluster complexion. Likewise, when you don't exfoliate regularly, you can end up with an uneven texture that can make you look older and flaky.
But be careful. While exfoliating helps keep you looking healthy and bright, it can be harmful if done too often. Additionally, harsh abrasive facial scrubs and hot water can dry out your skin and cause damage to its barrier, resulting in roughness and dullness. Using abrasive scrubs too often can also cause dry skin.
how to fix and brighten my dull skin at home?
Here are 8 simple actions to help you say goodbye to dull skin and hello to a more radiant you.
1) get your beauty sleep.
When you sleep, your body and your skin go through a restorative process. Your body needs this process to help fight off toxins, repair your skin, and nourish it back to life. If you don't get enough sleep, these processes are hindered, leaving you looking lackluster and tired. Strive to get about 7-8 hours of sleep each night for a healthy daily glow.
2) eat fresh fruit and vegetables
Citrus fruits, leafy greens, and root vegetables are packed with nutrients that benefit the body inside and out. Also, try incorporating foods rich in essential fatty acids into your diet to help nourish the skin from within.
Adding vitamins and supplements such as vitamin C will help brighten and even out your tone and help with cell renewal. Vitamin C is also an interesting antioxidant that will boost your collagen production. The result: a luminous, lifted look!
3) drink 8+ glasses of water per day
One of the best things you can do for glowing skin is to keep yourself properly hydrated so your body can flush toxins and chemicals from your system. When your body stays hydrated, it exhibits better circulation and blood flow; this ensures that your skin gets the vital nutrients it needs for a healthy glow.
4) avoid smoking and drinking excess alcohol
They can dull skin and cause it to age faster than normal. Smoking speeds up the breakdown of collagen and increases the loss of firmness. Alcohol hampers your skin's natural defense system for fighting free radicals, which causes skin aging.
5) wear sunscreen every day
You should also wear protective clothing when in the sun and avoid hazardous environments to keep your skin healthy. Every dermatologist will tell you that sunscreen is a must and can help slow the effects of photoaging.
6) avoid hot water
Hot water strips skin of its natural oils and makes it dry. Instead, use warm or tepid water when cleansing your face to avoid damaging your skin barrier and to help your skin retain its moisture.
7) adopt a good skincare routine
The best beauty routine is the one you will do regularly because consistency is key for your skin health. Your routine should include products that are safe, effective, and work for your skin type and your lifestyle.
Consider your skin’s mood and its needs when deciding which products to use in your skin care routine. Your skin is not static. It adapts to your environment, your diet, changes in seasons, and a myriad of other day-to-day factors.
That's why it's good to adjust your routine as your skin’s needs change over time. For example, you might need to add a thicker moisturizer or serum in winter and a clarifying toner in the summer. If your skin feels rough, exfoliate a little more often.
No matter what, your routine should include cleansing. Always remove your make-up and cleanse your face to remove dirt, dead cells, and impurities that can cause you to look lackluster.
what's the best skincare routine for dull skin?
Here’s a 4-step routine that will help you look brighter and more radiant:
Wash your face every day with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and impurities that accumulate throughout the day and which can clog pores, leaving you looking dull and uneven. Look for a cleanser with hydrating ingredients like Panama wood, lemon water, or glycerin.
Add moisture back using a toner to prep your skin for the rest of your routine. A clarifying and moisturizing toner with arginine can help lock in moisture. Lemon water, which is rich in vitamin C, trace elements, and mineral salts, will help make you look brighter and more even.
3) add a treatment with antioxidants
Use our Radiance Oil with organic yellow banana oil as a serum to restore luster to skin. In addition to being rich in antioxidants, its Pomegranate, Macadamia, and Roucou oils will improve your skin’s tone, radiance, and hydration levels.
And be sure to use a night cream each evening to lock in moisture during your skin’s overnight recovery process. A good moisturizer will also help reduce the look of fine lines & wrinkles.
PRO-TIP: Learn how to layer your skincare products to maximize the effectiveness of yoru beauty routine.
4 more ways to glow-up
1) exfoliate once or twice a week to remove dead skin cells
Regular exfoliation is key to looking radiant. When dead skin cells build up on the surface of your face, they can cause dullness, dryness, and clogged pores that lead to breakouts.
Use a gentle exfoliator to remove these layers and reveal fresher-looking skin and smooth away uneven texture for a younger-looking, glowy look. Smooth exfoliated skin can also better absorb the hydration from your moisturizer, making fine lines less visible.
2) add a face mask treatment to your weekly routine.
A purifying face mask or an at-home facial treatment can help tighten pores, loosen dead skin cells, and give you a glowing look. Hydrating face masks can help add moisture, which will give you a boost of brightness.
3) massage your face.
After applying your skincare products, take five or ten minutes to massage your face with your fingertips or with a special massage tool such as a roll-on or stone gua sha. A facial massage helps with blood circulation and cell renewal. If the blood circulates correctly, it will revive your pale complexion, bringing it back to life.
4) use make-up to help to brighten up
Apply foundation or powder if you're looking dull. A little touch of an illuminator can also be a good idea to bring a glow to your face.
what products are good for dull skin?
- A moisturizer, serum, or mask with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
- Treatment products that encourage exfoliation and cell turnover. For example, products with AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) such as lactic acid, and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) such as salicylic acid. Salicylic acid can be found in many over-the-counter acne products.
- A moisturizer and serum with antioxidants to fight free radicals which cause oxidative stress and lead to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Antioxidant-rich ingredients include Banana Bio-Actives, Polyphenols, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E.
- Plant-based oils. Research from 2018 suggests plant oils may help “repair the skin barrier and also prevent your barrier from losing moisture.”
- A moisturizer or serum to help you maintain a healthy skin barrier. Look for dermatologist-recommended ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, oils high in essential fatty acids, squalane, and glycerin.
- And, protect yourself every day with a dermatologist-recommended, broad-spectrum sunscreen.
maintain your glow
In addition to our tips and our natural skincare products for a healthy glow, think about going outside to enjoy the sunshine. There's nothing like a bit of sunshine to boost your mood and help you get glowing.
Longer-term, try to review your daily habits. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well? Don't try to make too many changes at once. Rather, identify one solution that's easy to incorporate into your facial or daily routines.
Remember, small changes can have positive long-term effects that will keep you looking and feeling your best. After one solution becomes a habit, look to adopt another. Over time, your skin will become more and more radiant.
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