What Is Dull Skin?

The skin equivalent to a boring personality.
BY Sarah Lim
| Last updated Mar, 2023
dull skin

Think about what your ideal complexion looks like. OK, stop thinking about JLo. Think about your skin. It is free of blemishes, dewy, and you have a bit of a glow. The texture is smooth, and your skin looks plump, hydrated and full. If you’re lucky, you have a bit of color to your cheeks even sans makeup. Now think about what dull skin looks like.

Your skin may look dry, flat, or rough. You may have an uneven skin tone, or your skin may look pale or colorless. Instead of looking dewy and supple, dull skin has more of a drab effect and can influence your entire look.

Let’s dive deeper! What is dull skin, what causes it, and how can you improve it? We have your guide on everything you need to know about dull skin.

What Causes Dull Skin in the First Place? 6 Potential Causes

The causes of dull skin are many. For some, it simply means the skin is dry and is in need of a good moisturizer. For others, dull skin may be more complicated. When asking the question, “What is dull skin?”, it’s important to consider the causes, which can include:

1. Not Exfoliating Regularly

Not exfoliating regularly

Exfoliating helps the skin shed those dead skin cells that can build up and cause the skin to look flat, gray, and dull. Depending on your skin type, you should be exfoliating anywhere from two to three times a week with an exfoliant for your skin type. Some people benefit more from chemical exfoliants, such as those with glycolic acid, which can improve cellular turnover, circulation, and smoothness to promote glowing skin. 

2. Environments with Low Humidity

Environments with low humidity

Humidity levels affect the skin more than you think. Lower humidity, such as that seen in the winter in cold, dry areas, can exacerbate the appearance of existing wrinkles and even increase the risk of skin disorders such as eczema. Humidity levels can also affect skin texture, leading to rougher, duller skin. Adequate humidity levels and a great skincare routine can help reduce skin dullness.

3. Stress and Low-grade Inflammation

Stress and low-grade inflammation

Chronic psychological stress can impact your gorgeous skin. As skin helps us understand and adapt to our environment, stress can signal the brain to induce inflammatory responses, which can present as dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, and red or reactive skin. Combined with natural skin aging, an unhealthy lifestyle (think not getting enough sleep and skipping the gym), and environmental factors, external and psychological stress can contribute to dull or stressed skin

4. Dehydration


Applying moisturizer helps prevent water loss from the surface of the skin, but staying hydrated helps replenish skin hydration from the inside out. As such, drinking enough water is essential to keeping your skin looking plump and glowing. After all, water makes up about 60% of our bodies and plays an integral role in cell homeostasis; it also provides volume to both the body and the skin. Dehydration can lead to skin that looks more lifeless and pale.

5. Using The Wrong Skincare Products

Using the wrong skincare products

If you have dry skin but are using products for oily or normal skin, chances are you could be causing it to look more pale. Using products specifically for your skin type can help you avoid the irritation, dryness, and dullness that can come with harsh products, or those that have active ingredients that don’t benefit your skin type. For example, if you are using a foam cleanser for oily skin but you have dry or combination skin, you may benefit more from a cream or oil cleanser. 

6. Aging and Damaged skin

Aging and damaged skin

Natural aging can cause thinner skin, dryness, and wrinkles, which can lead to lackluster skin. As we age, our skin cells don’t replenish themselves as often as they should. When we’re younger, our skin renews itself every 28 days. However, aging causes cellular renewal to slow down, happening only every 40 to 60 days, which can cause the skin to look more dull and mature

Dull vs. Bright Skin: Can You Brighten Dull Skin?

Dull vs. Bright Skin Can You Brighten Dull Skin

Now that we’ve defined dull skin, let’s have a look at some of the contrasts between dull and bright skin..

We’ve covered that dull skin can appear flat, dry, gray, or thin. Bright skin, on the other hand, looks supple, dewy, and lifted. Whereas dull skin can look tired, and the bright looks perky and glowing. 

So can you brighten dull skin? The answer is yes!

You can brighten it by drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, using the right skincare products, and exfoliating regularly. Keeping skin moisturized and protecting skin from the sun are also crucial to keeping your complexion looking supple and glowy.

Another great way to improve this, is to use skincare products that can bring back your natural glow. These include products formulated for dry and tired skin, as well as those that have active ingredients such as:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C

Known for helping to brighten skin naturally, vitamin C is your best friend when it comes to brightening dark spots (aka hyperpigmentation) and correcting sun damage. 

Glycolic Acid 

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), can help improve skin luminosity, hyperpigmentation, skin texture, and tone thanks to its antioxidant power. 

Hyaluronic Acid 

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid will be your savior if you have dry or mature skin and struggle with a dull complexion. This heavy-lifting molecule can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, helping skin look more bouncy and supple with regular use. 

Plant-based Oils

Plant-based oils

Nourishing oils such as rosehip seed oil, coconut oil, argan oil, and jojoba oil can help improve skin moisture, increase your natural glow, and prevent dullness from getting you down. 

Know Your Skin Type

So what is dull skin? It’s skin that needs a little TLC to start looking its best. Take our free skin assessment now to find out your skin type (or if your skin type has changed with age), so YOU can get started with the best products for brightening dull skin now!

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Gain insight into your skin type for your clearest complexion yet! Get ready to sparkle like there’s no tomorrow.

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