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Common Dull Skin Causes & How to Visibly Brighten Your Complexion

IT Cosmetics helps you discover the common causes of dull skin and learn how to get skin that glows.

Dull skin can be a real drag, but a few tweaks to your skincare and beauty regimen can make all the difference in a gorgeous, glowing complexion. To help you achieve the radiant, vibrant-looking skin of your dreams, you’ll want to first take note of the most common culprits of a lackluster complexion. Lucky for you, we’re sharing some of the most glaring causes. And, with dermatologists’ insight, we’re also showcasing some of our favorite skincare solutions that’ll leave your skin looking beautiful.

What Does Dull Skin Look Like?

Dull skin (which is considered the opposite of beautiful, radiant skin) is caused by a variety of factors. It may have little (if any) brilliance or glow, tends to not reflect light, and can even appear dry or rough. Depending on the cause, the dullness might be accompanied by dark under eye circles, areas of discoloration from sun damage (including dark spots), and even fine lines and wrinkles. All this can make you appear older than your years and detract from your vibrancy.

Some of the top culprits for dull skin may include:

  • Consistent, unprotected sun exposure
  • Free radical damage (oxidation)
  • Lack of hydration and moisturization
  • Buildup of dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin

6 Ways to Visibly Brighten Dull Looking Skin

To tackle dull skin, you’ll want to address the common culprits we just mentioned. Incorporating the following steps and skincare products into your current beauty regimen can help.

Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Consider sunscreen to be a non-negotiable part of your skincare routine. You should apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ to exposed skin daily. This is true even if you’re spending the day inside, even if it’s the middle of winter, and even if the sun isn’t shining brightly.

“I always tell my patients that if you can see the sun, it can see you,” says Tiffany Libby, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and IT Cosmetics Advisory Board Member. “So, it is always important to wear sunscreen every day.”

We recommend using a foundation with built-in SPF, such as CC+ Cream with SPF 50+. This best-selling* color-correcting cream delivers a full-coverage finish while hydrating your skin. It also packs an SPF 50+ physical sunscreen and contains skin-loving ingredients such as peptides, niacin, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Use a Vitamin C Serum

Antioxidant-rich ingredients can help defend your skin against free radicals, which can lead to discoloration, skin dullness, laxity, and fine lines and wrinkles.

“As a dermatologist, I love vitamin C because it’s a potent antioxidant,” says Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and IT Cosmetics Advisory Board Member. “That means it can help skin look brighter and help fight sun damage.”

To assist in boosting radiance, we recommend using a concentrated vitamin C serum every morning, such as Bye Bye Dullness Vitamin C Serum. Dr. Mariwalla says, “[Formulated] with 15% vitamin C, this serum helps brighten dull skin, giving you a fresh glow.”

Moisturize Both Morning and Evening

Dehydrated skin can potentially cause your complexion to appear lackluster. Using hydrating serums and moisturizing creams in the morning and evening can help prevent dry skin by replenishing moisture that’s been lost. You can even try a two-step process that layers a moisturizing cream on top of a hydrating serum.

Start with Bye Bye Lines Hyaluronic Acid Serum, a lightweight anti-aging serum that helps hydrate skin while visibly plumping and smoothing fine lines.

“[Hyaluronic acid] not only keeps our skin hydrated, but also more youthful-looking,” says Dr. Mariwalla. “In a serum formulation, hyaluronic acid can be well-concentrated and effective as a moisturizing boost for the skin.”

Afterward, layer a cream on top, such as Confidence in a Cream Hydrating Moisturizer. This quick-absorbing formula helps strengthen the skin's moisture barrier while providing an impressive 24 hours of continuous hydration.

Exfoliate with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

A build-up of dead skin cells can make your skin appear dull. To combat this, you can incorporate an exfoliant, such as Hello Results Resurfacing Glycolic Acid Treatment + Caring Night Oil, into your nightly regimen.

“Glycolic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane,” says Dr. Mariwalla. “Of the various AHAs, it is the smallest in structure, with the lowest molecular weight. That is what makes it so effective.”

This particular treatment is uniquely formulated with both glycolic acid to gently exfoliate and promote skin surface-cell renewal, as well as a blend of botanical oils that help skin feel baby-soft. A bonus benefit of AHAs (and even BHAs) is that they can help prepare your skin to better absorb other products.

Try Products Made With Niacinamide

“Niacinamide is your best friend and every dark spot’s worst nightmare,” says Dr. Mariwalla. “Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide helps support healthy skin barrier function, plus it helps brighten and even skin tone. Discoloration? Yep, it visibly reduces that, too!”

Niacinamide can be found in a handful of skincare products, but a serum can deliver a more concentrated dosage. Bye Bye Dark Spots Niacinamide Serum is formulated with 4% niacinamide, which helps minimize the appearance of dark spots for a complexion that looks brighter and more even-toned.

Apply Makeup That Instantly Boosts Radiance

For that instant glow, reach for cosmetics that are formulated specifically to visibly boost your radiance. A perfect example is CC+ Cream Illumination with SPF 50+, which takes our original CC+ Cream and infuses it with micronized light-reflecting pigments. This helps give you glowing skin—without the glitter or shimmer!

Bye Bye Under Eye Illumination Anti-Aging Concealer works similarly. It contains Drops of Light Technology™ for a lit-from-within glow while delivering the same reliable formulation of the original Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging Concealer. One dot is all you need to get incredible, crease-proof coverage.

Looking for new ways to freshen up your beauty routine? Check out this roundup of fun beauty trends.

*Source: The NPD Group/US Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, Makeup Product Sales, January - December 2020.

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