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why is my skin so dull and how to do?

21 Big Reasons Your Skin Looks So Dull

1. You’re not exfoliating enough.

If you wash your face twice a day, you might think you have your skincare routine covered, but there’s a very crucial step you need to add: exfoliation. According to Dr. Kenneth Howe, dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology, the most common cause of dull skin is dryness. Dry skin needs to be sloughed away so that you can see the fresh, bright skin beneath it. Exfoliating also creates a fresh canvas that allow topical products to penetrate better, says Dr. Hadley King, board-certified dermatologist at SKINNEY Medspa, so don’t be surprised if you begin seeing improved results from your other skincare products once you begin exfoliating regularly.

Just remember to keep the process gentle on your skin to avoid causing inflammation or irritation in any of those baby-soft layers of fresh skin you’ve exfoliated to the surface. Dr. Melanie Palm, board-certified dermatologist and the director of Art of Skin MD, prefers “a chemical exfoliant (alpha and beta hydroxy acids) to physical exfoliants, which may be too harsh on the skin.”

2. You need to moisturize more.

On top of exfoliation, your complexion is calling out for something else: moisture. Dr. Howe explains the process on a microscopic level: The demands that we place on our skin cause cracks in its surface, which translate as dullness. Using a moisturizer fills in those fissures by adding lipids, the natural fats of the skin, which seal up the gaps between the skin cells, presenting a smooth, reflective surface.

Dr. Palm suggests using moisturizers with ingredients like ceramides, which help repair skin barrier function and improve water retention, and hyaluronic acid, which plumps up skin cells by attracting water to surrounding tissues. And how you apply it matters, too. “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 and Simple Advisory Board member. “This will bring oxygen to the surface of your skin, making it look nourished and healthy, and feel more hydrated.”

3. You’re not drinking enough water.

If you’re dehydrated, it’s definitely affecting 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.” Most of us tend to think of dehydration as a short term problem solved by a glass of water or a layer of moisturizer, but board-certified dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky encourages seeing skin dehydration as a long-term problem, as consistently failing to get your skin the water it needs can have lasting results.

Dehydration also affects you in ways that go beyond the cosmetic. Skin cells are composed of mostly water, so they operate best in a hydrated environment. That means that they can still perform basic operations when water content is low, but according to Dr. Luftman, this deficiency will manifest in one of three ways. “Dehydrated skin can include epidermal dehydration, dermal dehydration or both. Epidermal (top layer of skin) dehydration is indicated by crepiness or fine lines. Scales may form in the case of more severe, chronic surface dehydration. Dermal (deep skin) dehydration causes depletion of the dermis and will ultimately result in deeper wrinkles that are visible on the surface of the skin, as well sagging skin.” Long story short: if you don’t want wrinkles, drink up.

4. Your stress level is showing.

If none of this has been clicking with you so far, maybe it’s less about what’s going on in your body and more about what’s going on in your brain. That’s right: We’re talking about stress, which 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 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.

5. You’re not sleeping enough.

Anything that keeps you up at night is getting in the way of your best skin, whether it’s stress or not. “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, leading to circulatory changes including dark eye circles, pallor, dry, flaky, less hydrated skin, and changes in oil production and skin cell exfoliation.” Just one more reason to head to bed early each night.

6. The environment you’re in is dirty.

On top of your own habits, it could be your environment that’s dulling down your skin with air pollutants and UV exposure, as either of those factors can wreak havoc on unprotected skin. Dr. Howe tacked on low humidity and harsh winds as environmental elements that could be causing you problems as well. 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.

7. 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.” You know all this, but seriously — try to get help, your body will thank you.

8. The makeup you’re wearing is drying it out.

Other things that might be affecting your skin dullness are slightly less damaging. Dr. Palm urges avoiding over-mattifying cosmetics, which can reduce that glowy appearance, as well as a makeup remover containing alcohol. Try switching to a gentle cold cream and a makeup remover pad, which will remove makeup and add moisturize at the same time.

9. You’re not eating a healthy, balanced diet.

The age-old saying “you are what you eat” very much applies here, as what you put into your body is reflected in your complexion. Our experts have come armed with foods to seek out — and foods to avoid. If radiant skin is your aim, Dr. Melanie Palm urges us 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, devoid of fiber, antioxidants, high-quality protein and essential fatty acids,” all major culprits when it comes to dull skin.

10 PROBLEM: Dead skin cells — they’re everywhere.
No, you’re not seeing things — that probably is an ashy tint on your face. “We shed millions of skin cells a day, so unless you do something to actively remove the ones that don’t fall off naturally, you’re going to have a grayish look no matter your skin tone,” says Mona Gohara, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. Think of that dead-cell buildup like dust. Until you wipe it clean, it’s a dingy layer that prevents your skin from reflecting light.

11 SOLUTION: Mist some Pledge on a face wipe — kidding, please don’t do that. But you are going to need to gently exfoliate once or twice a week. “Scrubs with sugar or jojoba esters are mild enough for even sensitive skin, and grainy scrubs with pulverized nut shells are good for everyone else,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. (Try

 

.) Peels use alpha and beta hydroxy acids to remove dead skin cells; look for formulas that contain soothing ingredients, like aloe and green tea, to minimize irritation. (We like Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial.)

12 PROBLEM: A fossil-fuel-based economy and eased environmental regulations.
Oh, yes, that’s also a skin-care concern. Polluted air contains a host of tiny particles, like dirt and sulfur dioxide, that create free radicals on skin. Free radicals damage collagen (hello, new wrinkles!) and stimulate pigment production over time — and when your skin’s tone and texture are uneven, it diffuses light and looks dull.

13 SOLUTION: Wash your face at night — every night. If the day’s filth lingers, it will damage your skin while you sleep. (But feel free to skip a morning wash.) “Because pollution causes inflammation and can disrupt the skin barrier, it’s important to choose a gentle creamy cleanser that helps build it back up,” says Zeichner. (Try Olay Luminous Brightening Cream Cleanser.) Studies have shown that using soap with a cleansing brush is more effective at removing nanoparticles of pollution than manual cleansing. (Facial wipes aren’t thorough enough to remove pollution, but if you’re too tired to wash your face, they’re better than nothing.) In the morning, load up on serums and lotions that contain antioxidants, like vitamin C and idebenone. “It’s like having a safety net to minimize potential damage from pollution’s free radicals,” says Zeichner.

14 PROBLEM: Skin issues cause stress, which causes skin issues, which…
A work deadline, an argument, or a bad night’s sleep has you a little on edge. Then you hear the most obnoxious three words ever strung together: “You look tired.” Whatever form stress takes, the result is the same. “Cortisol levels go up, your fight-or-flight response kicks in, and blood flow goes to your vital organs, not your face, leading to skin looking sallow,” says Gohara.

15 SOLUTION: Being told to relax or get more rest tends to raise cortisol levels further rather than lower them, so we’ll skip the obvious advice for now. Instead, try a quick facial massage while cleansing or applying moisturizer. “It’s a great way to stimulate blood flow, which will add radiance and plump the skin,” says Gohara. For a more lasting glow, consider a microdermabrasion session at a dermatologist’s office. It will remove dead skin cells and boost circulation.


How to Give Yourself a Quick Facial Massage


16 PROBLEM: Your skin is dehydration station.
Without moisture, your skin looks dull, but the problem is deeper than you may realize. And we mean that literally. “Loss of hydration from below the skin’s surface — in the dermis and the lower levels of the epidermis — causes a decrease in thickness of the skin,” says Zeichner. “Think of a deflated balloon: It doesn’t shine as well as an inflated one.”

SOLUTION: Pat on a hyaluronic acid serum with damp fingers to drive moisture deep into skin. (Try SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier.) Then layer a moisturizer with powerful emollients, like cetyl alcohol or dimethicone, on top. (A good choice is

Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Daily Moisturizer

 

.) “Emollients create a thin, transparent film over the skin’s surface,” says Zoe Diana Draelos, a consulting professor of dermatology at Duke University. That film will help skin cells lie flat and reflect light better.

17 PROBLEM: You’re not getting your daily serving of…metal?
Trace minerals are vital to forming the body’s natural antioxidants, which protect the components of healthy, radiant skin, says Draelos. But it’s difficult to get the recommended daily amounts from food alone (current farming practices are causing soil to become increasingly nutrient-bare, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

18 SOLUTION: Pop a daily multivitamin. Draelos says to look for one that includes selenium, copper, iron, and zinc. The required amount of each depends on your age and sex, so clear the breakdown with your doctor first.

19 PROBLEM: It’s impossible to avoid the sun entirely.
We don’t know anyone who gets excited to discover a new sun spot on her face. Even less thrilling? Allover hyperpigmentation, which can result in mottled skin. Sun damage is also a main cause of weakened collagen — and the slack, dull skin that comes with it.

20SOLUTION: We know you know, but do it: Wear. Sunscreen. No treatment will be effective as long as your skin is still exposed. Next — and, OK, you probably know this, too — use a product with retinol every night. It will protect existing collagen from breaking down and build more of the structural protein, says Gohara. Then add in a serum or a cream with a brightening ingredient, like kojic acid or arbutin (try iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance+) to fade dark spots.

21 PROBLEM: Hormones go out of whack.
When hormone levels fluctuate — because of puberty, menopause, medications, or other uncontrollable circumstances — they often affect the appearance of skin. Just look at what happens when estrogen dips, leaving a higher proportion of testosterone: Skin can get oilier, and greasiness creates a surface shine that accentuates pores and makes your skin look less glow-y. And melasma, a hormonal form of hyperpigmentation, leaves you with dark patches that don’t fade with topical brighteners because the pigment takes hold in both the uppermost and deeper layers of skin, says Arielle Kauvar, a clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center.

22 SOLUTION: Blotting sheets and clay masks get excess oil off your skin. But if that’s not enough, your dermatologist can prescribe a medication, like the Pill or spironolactone, to treat the hormonal cause of oiliness. For stubborn melasma, ask your dermatologist about prescribing hydroquinone or obliterating the pigment with a YAG laser or Fraxel treatment.

How to Get Rid of Dull Skin

 

Dull skin can make you look tired and old, even when you’re well rested. When your skin has a layer of dead skin cells on the surface, your skin doesn’t reflect light as it naturally would with new, healthy skin. By beginning a skin care regimen that includes exfoliating and keeping your skin moisturized, you can foster the look of healthy, bright skin. When skin care isn’t enough, your dermatologist can help you find ways to uncover brighter skin with clinical treatments.
Step 1

Invest in a good quality exfoliating scrub that contains fruit acids, glycolic acid or abrasive beads that help slough away the dead cells on the surface of the skin. Dead skin cells don’t reflect light well, instead making your skin look dry and dull. Mandy Epley, master aesthetician at Glow Skin Spa in New York City, tells “Teen Vogue” magazine that exfoliating twice weekly will help to keep skin looking bright. Opt for a daily cleanser that contains fruit acids to help keep dry, dull skin at bay between exfoliating.
Step 2

Apply an oil-free moisturizer several times daily. Dry skin can often take on a dull, chapped appearance that can make you look tired. Apply moisturizer each day, even if your skin doesn’t feel dry. Look for one labeled “noncomedogenic” so you know it won’t cause breakouts, even with frequent applications.
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Step 3

Wear sunscreen every day. Sun damage can make your skin look discolored and dull, so it’s important that a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or above becomes part of your daily skin care regimen. If adding a sunscreen sounds like too much of a bother, look for a daily moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen to help streamline your morning routine.
Step 4

Wear a tinted moisturizer instead of a thick and heavy foundation. A tinted moisturizer will help your skin’s natural color and texture to shine through while adding light reflecting minerals to keep your skin looking bright. Heavy foundations and powders can dull the skin and give it a matte appearance, which can actually make you look older.
Step 5

Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist if lifestyle and cosmetic remedies don’t seem to be helping your dull skin problem. Your dermatologist can suggest a number of skin care procedures to be done in the office to help speed skin cell turnover and reveal more youthful skin. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are two treatments that can help you see a difference in the tone and texture of your skin, Joshua Wieder, M.D., an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells “Good Housekeeping” magazine.

9 Big Reasons Your Skin Looks So Dull | Woman’s Day

How to Get rid of Dull Skin | Best Home Remedy


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