Whether you’re tired of having dull, lacklustre skin, or just want to prolong your post-summer glow, there are plenty of ways to boost your skin’s radiance. The first step is identifying what’s causing the dullness in the first place.
“When we refer to glowing skin, what we’re really referring to is how healthy our skin functions as an organ,” says Kay Ali, expert nutritionist at Beauty Pie. “Our skin radiates and looks its best when every aspect of how it works—from cellular turnover and collagen production, to maintaining a harmonised acid mantle—functions optimally.”
What causes dull skin?
Dull, lifeless skin is caused by a variety of factors, the main one being dehydration, which is something to bear in mind as we move into the colder months.
“Skin is especially dry and looks dull after the long winter period, due to a decrease in sebum production,” explains Dr Barbara Sturm. “This is a result of insufficient blood supply in the outer layers of our skin, exposure to cold, wind and extreme temperatures, and dry indoor heating.”
Inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, too much screen time, diet, environmental aggressors, a buildup of dead skin cells, dryness, natural ageing, smoking, and second-hand smoke can all contribute.
Luckily, there are plenty of effective formulas on the market that specifically target dull skin.
What are the best products for dull skin?
The key to healthy, glowy, and bouncy-looking skin is a combination of exfoliation and hydration.
Dull skin is often uneven in tone or texture, and so reflects light less evenly. The first step is to remove the dead skin cells that can accumulate on the skin surface with a gentle exfoliation. You can do this with alpha-hydroxy and polyhydroxy acids, (Medik8’s Press & Glow acid toner is great for removing superficial debris), or with physical facial scrubs, like Dr Barbara Sturm’s Facial Scrub.
Next, you’ll need some vitamin C. “Considered one of the best antioxidants in skincare, vitamin C is naturally present in the body and works to protect the skin from environmental damage which may occur throughout the day,” says Daniel Isaacs, director of research at Medik8. “This includes sun and pollution damage. Vitamin C also works to promote a radiant, brighter complexion while boosting collagen production for firmer, more youthful-looking skin.” SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum is particularly good, as is Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster.
Next, you’ll need to lock in moisture to prevent the skin from becoming dehydrated – especially after you’re done exfoliating. Here’s where your hydrating serums, calming botanicals and nourishing moisturisers come in (and which you should always follow up with an SPF). The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a great way to replenish moisture, while the Clinque Superdefense SPF25 Anti-Ageing Moisturiser recharges the skin with vitamin E, at the same time as shielding the skin from further UV damage and environmental aggressors.
Finally, you may want to think about introducing retinol at nighttime, to kickstart your body’s natural healing mechanisms and rejuvenate the skin for a more even complexion. Ease yourself in with La Roche-Posay Retinol 0.3% + Vitamin B3 Serum, or Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum.
What are the best treatments for dull skin?
As well as products, a wealth of targeted treatments are available to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and resurface uneven skin tone and skin texture, revitalising your complexion with a radiant glow. These treatments include different types of lasers, micro-needling and LED light therapy. Skin expert and celebrity favourite Jasmina Vico offers a personalised combination of the above in her signature VicoGlow Laser, while Skinesis’s Stem Cell Collagen Therapy + LED uses collagen in three ways, to smooth, plump and regenerate skin.
How to target dull skin through diet and lifestyle
As with any skincare problem, whatever is happening on the outside tends to be reflective of what’s happening on the inside. So, what is your dull skin telling you? This is when we need to look at diet.
“There’s a lot we can do topically to assist with dull skin,” says Beauty Pie’s Ali. “But our skin’s autonomic physiological processes fundamentally rely on the presence of key nutrients, largely obtained from our diet. This means there is so much we can do to support glowing skin from within.”
Your first step is to cut down on sugary food, alcohol, processed meats and trans fats. All the good things, basically. Next, you want to be incorporating essential fatty acids, which are vital for radiant skin, into your diet. Omega 3, which is found in oily fish, walnuts, flax and hemp seeds, is particularly important. Beauty Pie’s BiOmega 3 fish oil capsules are a great way to boost your intake.
Protein is also essential for healthy-looking skin. “We break down the proteins we eat into building blocks called amino acids, and repurpose them to make other proteins in the body like collagen and keratin – both provide key structures in the skin,” explains Ali. Beauty Pie does an excellent Collagen Super Powder.
To catalyse collagen production from within, it’s important to increase your vitamin C intake. Think bell peppers, kiwis, strawberries, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin A is integral for speeding up cellular turnover, essentially the removal of the outer layer of dead skin cells – one of the main causes of dull skin. Look for foods that are orange or red in colour, such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, egg yolks and squash. To support vitamin A’s role, incorporate foods that are high in zinc, such as pumpkin seeds, oysters, cashews and almonds.
Other than that, keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, exercise regularly and make sure you are getting enough sleep. After that, healthy, glowing skin awaits.