If you’re thinking your skin’s been looking a little dull, it could just be the waning daylight. More likely, though, there’s something going on, intrinsically or extrinsically, that’s affecting your complexion.
There are several reasons why your skin can look dull. In my last post, I got into a couple of the most common, stress and an accumulation of dead skin cells. Here, I’ll explore a few other potential causes, some of which may come as a surprise, as well as what you can do about it. In most cases, an at-home treatment is all you’ll need to restore your glow.
Even if you meticulously apply sunscreen each morning before heading out, it’s impossible to avoid the sun entirely. Sun damage is a main cause of weakened collagen, which you’ll notice when your skin becomes slack and dull.
First and foremost, keep wearing sunscreen. Without it, you’re counteracting any treatment you try. Beyond that, start using a product with retinol every night if you aren’t already. It’s going to protect the existing collagen from breaking down any further and encourage the growth of more of it. Then, to fade any dark spots, add a serum or cream with a brightening agent, like kojic acid or arbutin.
Even if you live in a rural area, there’s some degree of pollution in the air—a reality we all became a little more familiar with when smoke from the west coast wildfires found its way to New York City in September. Polluted air contains lots of tiny particles, like dirt and sulfur dioxide, that create free radicals on our skin.
What’s so bad about free radicals? Over time, they damage collagen and stimulate pigment production, leading to uneven skin tone and texture.
Make a point to wash your face every night with a gentle, creamy cleanser. Air pollution causes inflammation, and it can disrupt the skin barrier, so you want something that’ll help restore it, not further irritate it. Also, studies support that washing with a cleansing brush is more effective at removing pollution’s nanoparticles than going without one.
Hormone levels can fluctuate for lots of different reasons—puberty, menopause, medications, uncontrollable circumstances. And they often affect the skin’s appearance. Melasma, for example, leaves you with dark patches that don’t fade with topical brighteners. It’s actually a hormonal form of hyperpigmentation.
If your skin is oily—greasiness creates a surface shine that accentuates pores and makes skin look dull—start with blotting sheets and clay masks. If that’s not enough, see a board-certified dermatologist. They can prescribe medication to treat the hormonal cause of the oiliness. For melasma, ask your dermatologist about prescribing hydroquinone or removing the pigment with a YAG laser or Fraxel treatment.