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Reasons Your Skin Looks Dull — And How To Correct It

Apr 23, 2019 By Kayode Oseh 2.3K

It is a fact that maintaining radiance isn't always easy, and the reality is there are reasons to why your skin is lacking that radiance. The skin constantly sheds dead cells in its uppermost layer, but if the process isn’t working efficiently, your complexion can take on a dull, unhealthy, appearance.

If you think that your skin has lost its radiance, don’t just feel discouraged yet as there is a good news for you. Just continue reading down this article and discover how to rekindle that glowing splinter back again on your skin.

The problems and solutions as to why your skin looks dull, is highlighted below.

PROBLEM: You're dehydrated — and so is your skin.

Tammie Umbel, founder of Shea Terra Organics, points out that dehydration decreases the volume of blood flow to the skin, making you look "pale and sickly." Dehydration may seem like a short-term problem solved by a glass of water, but board-certified dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky encourages viewing skin dehydration as a long-term problem.
Consistently failing to give your skin the hydration it needs, can cause lasting damage, like fine lines, sagging skin, and even scales and deep wrinkles from severe chronic dehydration.

SOLUTION: Long story short: if you don't want wrinkles, drink up. Aim to drink eight glasses of water a day.

PROBLEM: You're not exfoliating your skin.

If you wash your face twice a day, great! But there's a very crucial step you need to add: exfoliation. Dryness is the most common cause of dull skin, and exfoliating creates a fresh canvas that allows topical products to penetrate better, says Dr. Hadley King, board-certified dermatologist at SKINNEY Medspa. The process removes skin’s outer layer of dead cells so its surface is smoother and clearer and reflects light (glows!).

SOLUTION: Incorporate one type of exfoliator at a time into your routine to avoid skin irritation and damage. the scientist  recommends. (For instance, if you’re trying a chemical peel, don’t also use a physical scrub or a cleansing brush at the same time). Try a single-use wipe like First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, which contain two kinds of alpha-hydroxy acids at levels that are safe for sensitive skin.

PROBLEM: You're forgetting to moisturize regularly.
Dull complexion is calling out for something moisture. Dr. Kenneth Howe, dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology, says daily life and environment stressors create cracks in our skin's surface, giving the appearance of dullness.

SOLUTION: Moisturizer fills in those fissures with added lipids, the natural fats of the skin, presenting a smooth, reflective surface. Dr. Melanie Palm, board-certified dermatologist and the director of Art of Skin MD, suggests using moisturizers with ingredients like ceramides, which help repair skin barrier function and improve water retention, and hyaluronic acid, which plumps skin cells by attracting water to surrounding tissue. (IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream is a great choice that contains both.)

"Apply your moisturizer in gentle, upward strokes to boost blood circulation and stimulate the cells around your face and neck," recommends Dr. Debra Luftman, board-certified dermatologist.

"This will bring oxygen to the surface of your skin, making it look nourished and healthy.". PROBLEM: You're super stressed.

Stress plays a large role in brilliance of your skin—or the lack thereof. "Stress causes an increase in cortisol, which can affect blood flow to the skin and [affect] skin repair," says Dr. Luftman. Translation: whatever deadline, argument, or frustration it is you're holding onto could be what's standing between you and lustrous skin.

SOLUTION: Stress management is crucial. Take time to de-stress at home. Adopting a more positive attitude was a common, important factor in "super-agers" (women who look 10+ years younger than their actual age) according to an Olay study. Also, try learning strategies to calm your mind and manage stress, which will help improve your complexion now and in the future.

PROBLEM: You are sleep deprived.

Anything that keeps you up at night is getting in the way of your best skin. "Sleep is the body's restorative time when your skin cells repair themselves and regenerate," explains Dr. Palm. "If that period is shortened or altered, skin cells cannot perform at their optimum."

SOLUTION: Log seven to nine hours of sleep to stay looking (and feeling!) your best. Night creams tackle tough skin issues while you drift off. For even more moisturizing power, swap in an extra-nourishing overnight mask weekly or as needed in place of your night cream. In our Beauty Lab’s test, Amorepacific Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque increased skin’s moisture levels by 49%.

PROBLEM: Your environment is affecting your skin.

Your environment could be dulling down your skin with air pollutants, low humidity, harsh winds, and UV exposure, which can wreak havoc on unprotected skin. In one study, researchers tracked women who lived in both rural and urban areas for over 20 years and found that the city dwellers ended up with significantly more brown spots and lines.

SOLUTION: You don’t have to relocate to keep your skin smooth and even. First, always wash your face before bed, “otherwise, pollutant particles can clog pores” while you sleep, says Annie Chiu, M.D., director of The Derm Institute in Redondo Beach, CA. Then, apply a good antioxidant product every morning to “mop up the free radicals that we’re exposed to every day, which stops them from doing harm,” says Dr. Chiu.

Some of the best ones are green tea, white tea, vitamin C, and resveratrol; try the white tea-loaded Origins A Perfect World Age-Defense Moisturizer. And always wear SPF daily to shield skin from the sun and pollutants.

If you live in a high-smog area, one way to counteract the effects of your environment is by getting some exercise. "Aerobic activity enhances circulation to skin, which helps in nutrient exchange and removal of toxins from our skin cells," advises Dr. Palm, so add a stop at the gym to your routine and get ready to notice a big difference.

PROBLEM: You're a smoker.

Surely you don't need to be told this again, but smoking is seriously harmful to your skin, in both the long- and short-term. Take it from Dr. Palm: "Carcinogenic substances are extremely detrimental to skin integrity and structure. Cigarette smoking causes collagen breakdown, making skin appear sallow, waxy, and wrinkled over time."

SOLUTION: You know all this, but seriously — try to get help to quit smoking, your body (and loved ones) will thank you.

PROBLEM: You're overdoing it with matte makeup.

Even if you have oily skin, avoid over-mattifying cosmetics, which can reduce that glowy appearance — a little oil is important for that! You should also skip makeup removers that contain alcohol.

SOLUTION: Use a foundation or BB cream that has light-reflecting pigments (it’ll have words like "radiance-boosting" or "luminizing" on the bottle). “These bounce light off the skin so it looks

more even-toned,”says makeup artist Troy Surratt, founder of Surratt Beauty Cosmetics. A touch of cream highlighter in a champagne color for fair skin, or gold tone for olive to dark skin, can work wonders. Swipe a little along the entire length of your cheekbones for "a pretty, dewy effect that makes your entire face seem more luminous,” Surratt says. Lastly, switch to a gentle balm cleanser to take everything off. Not only will this remove your makeup, it will also add moisture.

PROBLEM: You're not eating a healthy diet.

The age-old saying "you are what you eat" very much applies here. What you put into your body is reflected in your complexion, so don't expect to under-nourish your body and see great skin.

SOLUTION: Dr. Palm says to stay away from salty and processed foods—they "enhance tissue swelling through fluid retention, which retards ideal light reflection." Nutritionist Paula Simpson recommends steering clear of the "typical Western diet" all together, which in her own words includes ingredients that are "high in sugar and fat, and devoid of fiber, antioxidants, high-quality protein, and essential fatty acids," all major culprits when it comes to dull skin.

There are healthy food options out there to please both your stomach and your skin. Dr. Howe suggests antioxidant-rich food like blueberries, cranberries, red beans, and pinto beans, while Dr. Palm advocates for good-fat treats like avocados and walnuts, as well as citrus fruits and kiwi, which contain vitamin C, known to boost collagen growth. As for alcohol, imbibe sparingly. Mariola Barczewska, Esthetician at Haven Spa, recommends sulfite-free red wine and liquor neat or on the rocks, which doesn't affect your metabolism the way a sugary mixer might.

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