Common Causes of Dull Skin

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Uncovering causes of dull skin, and the best path to radiance


Has your skin been a little down in the dumps? Unfortunately, the cooler months tend to have a dulling effect on your complexion. Many of us go through seasonal periods where skin isn’t as bright or glowy as it once was, and we know how frustrating it is when you can’t pinpoint the cause. Is it the weather or skincare products – or is it, me?!

In the name of gloriously glowing skin and defending yourself, we’ve identified the most common causes of dull skin to help you take back your radiance and confidence. Dullness can often be related to external reasons, like our diet, sleep patterns, and environmental factors. The good news is that you’re in control of many of these factors, and we’ve got you covered with actionable solutions!

6 Causes of Dull Skin (and What to Do About Them)

#1: Sun Damage
There are a few ways that sun damage causes dull skin. Sun damage can dry out your skin, especially after a sunburn. Drier skin doesn’t produce as much oil, leaving your skin without its natural sheen. Drier skin also has trouble retaining the moisture necessary for plump, glowy skin.

Sun damage hinders your skin’s ability to repair itself, and slows down your cell turnover rate. That means dead skin cells aren’t shedding as often as they should – and dead cells on the surface of your skin will most definitely lead to a dull complexion.

What to do: Use broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher every day – even if it’s just to the office. To repair existing sun damage, exfoliate and hydrate your skin regularly.

#2: Not Exfoliating Enough
Since dead skin cells dull your complexion, not exfoliating enough is another culprit of dull skin. Exfoliating regularly means you uncover brighter, softer skin – who doesn’t want that? Under-exfoliation also means that your skincare products aren’t penetrating your skin as deeply. A layer of dead skin cells might be blocking the way!

What to do: For best results, exfoliate properly for your skin type. Exfoliate less if you’re using a more potent product; exfoliate more often if you’re using a gentler product.


#3: Smoking
Smoking is a habit that can lead to yellowish, leathery, and dull skin. Your skin visibly ages more quickly since cigarette smoke contains free radicals. These free radicals are coming in direct contact with your skin, like pollution and UV rays. Excessive amounts of free radicals will break down collagen and elastin levels – leading to dull, saggy skin.

What to do: Smoking less or not at all is the best way to avoid these symptoms. Talk to your doctor for help in forming a plan!

#4: Poor Diet
A poor diet full of sugar, fried foods, and alcohol will be rife with free radicals and inflammation. While too many ingested free radicals can harm your internal organs, your skin will also inevitably be affected by what you eat. What you feed your body often shows up as dull skin; too much sugar, as an example, is known to break down collagen and elastin in the skin


What to do: Gradually replace unhealthy options with skin-healthy foods that feature lower saturated fats, higher fiber, and a lower glycemic index. Slowly cut down on your added sugar intake if this is an issue for you. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many changes at once – a slow and steady transition tends to be more sustainable for long-term change.


#5: Lack of Sleep
Your body repairs itself while you sleep, and your skin is included in this process. Your skin forms new collagen and boosts your blood flow when you sleep. When you sleep very little, you’re not giving your skin enough time to rejuvenate or soak up your evening products.

What to do: Set up a consistent sleep schedule that fits your rhythm and gives you 7-8 hours of sleep. Go to bed at the same time each night; if you sleep a little late, begin gradually going to sleep 15 minutes earlier each night.

#6: Poor Hydration
Hydration brings life to dull skin – not only should we drink enough water, but we should be applying topical humectants. Humectants draw water from the air and bring it to our skin; popular humectant ingredients include aloe, honey, and hyaluronic acid.

Another important element of hydration is sealing moisture into the skin with occlusives. You don’t want to lose the water you’ve just drawn into your skin! Effective plant-based occlusives include rosehip seed oil, squalane, and shea butter.

On the flip side, some products and habits can increase water loss from your skin. Harsh cleansers strip your skin of the necessary oils needed for sealing in moisture. Heat can sap your skin of moisture, too; rinsing the skin with hot water is a common habit that affects hydration levels and your skin’s protective barrier.

What to do: Drink plenty of water, use a moisturizer with humectants and occlusives, and ease off the hot showers by opting for cool or lukewarm water.

We’ve given you some causes and solutions to get to the root of your dull skin. So, now it’s time for a few product suggestions that can make all the difference in your skin’s radiance and dullness!

Fermented Rice Cleanser
Our Fermented Rice Cleanser contains a gentle blend of brightening and exfoliating ingredients that are suitable for everyday use. Mulberry water helps soothe the skin, which is essential for post-sunburn care. Licorice root extract is a natural melanin inhibitor, that targets dark spots and helps to gradually fade them. The malic acid in our rice water – combined with papaya extract – works to gently exfoliate and gradually reveal glowy skin.

PRO TIP: For an extra kick, follow up with the Fermented Rice Water Serum.

Vitamin C Serum
A Vitamin C serum can boost your SPF protection and promote collagen production. The type of vitamin C we use in our formula, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, is a gentler and more stable form of the antioxidant. Combined with vitamin E, this means less irritation and a longer shelf life. Aloe gel is a powerful humectant and soother, and stars as the base ingredient for this hydrating serum.

PRO TIP: You can also promote a more vibrant complexion by stimulating healthy blood circulation. Use a facial oil to perform a gua sha facial or other facial massage techniques for increased blood flow.

Retinol Restorative Overnight Balm
Retinol is an ingredient that increases cell turnover rate: a necessary part of restoring your skin’s glow factor. Our Retinol Restorative Overnight Balm includes avocado butter and olive oil for supple skin and sealed in moisture. This anti-aging overnight retinol cream is formulated with nourishing vitamins and antioxidants to enhance the skin’s natural glow. Vegan retinol helps to promote a more evenly toned complexion while lessening the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dull Skin

What is the impact of stress on skin’s brightness?
Stress can cause a person to overly itch or rub their skin. If this continues for a long period, a person’s skin can begin to dull or darken. Unfortunately, stressful conditions can alter the pigmentation or the skin’s clarity and brightness. It’s important to establish anti-stress habits, like exercise and meditation to reduce the effects of stress.

How does lack of sleep contribute to skin dullness?
Your body repairs itself while you sleep, and your skin is included in this process. Your skin forms new collagen and boosts your blood flow when you sleep. When you sleep very little, you’re not giving your skin enough time to rejuvenate or soak up your evening products. This can lead to skin dullness.

Are there environmental factors that cause dull skin?
Absolutely! Sun damage and other outside environmental factors are some of the key causes of accelerated signs of skin aging. That makes wearing sun protection daily of utmost concern.

How do skincare routines influence skin’s luminosity?
It’s important to adopt a natural skin routine with natural ingredients that are suitable for most skin types.

Can hormonal changes lead to dull skin?
Revitalizing dull skin takes a mixture of SPF protection, exfoliation, healthy food, and hydration. Take these crucial to brighter your complexion. Your best bet is prevention, so use these suggestions to stave off dull skin!


It’s certainly true that a nurturing and healthful approach to diet is a crucial factor when it comes to maintaining a healthy glow of the skin and body.

With the previous information in mind, don’t hesitate to contact a dermatologist if you can’t pinpoint the source of your acne. A trained dermatologist will be able to not only answer your questions accurately, but they may even be able to run tests that will clarify the root causes of your acne, and help put you on a track to healthier, happier skin.

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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