Fact: luminous, dewy skin never goes out of style, we know this. We also know that maintaining radiance isn’t always easy, and the reality is there are reasons your skin is missing that so-called glow. Our skin constantly sheds dead cells, but if the process isn’t working efficiently, your complexion can take on a dull, unhealthy, tired appearance that emphasizes wrinkles.
The good news? There are almost-effortless ways to get back your healthy glow. It’s the little things can make a biggest difference when it comes to your complexion. If you’re feeling like you’ve lost your glow thanks to dull skin, chances are, one of the mistakes below is responsible. So, break these habits and prepare for beaming, healthy-looking skin in no time.
1. You’re dehydrated — and so is your skin.
Tammie Umbel, founder of Shea Terra Organics, points out that dehydration decreases the volume of blood flow to the skin, making you look “pale and sickly.” Dehydration may seem like a short-term problem solved by a glass of water, but board-certified dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky encourages viewing skin dehydration as a long-term problem.
Consistently failing to give your skin the hydration it needs can cause lasting damage, like fine lines, sagging skin, and even scales and deep wrinkles from severe chronic dehydration.
SOLUTION: Long story short: if you don’t want wrinkles, drink up. Aim to drink eight glasses of water a day.
2. You’re not exfoliating your skin.
If you wash your face twice a day, great! But there’s a very crucial step you need to add: exfoliation. Dryness is the most common cause of dull skin, and exfoliating creates a fresh canvas that allows topical products to penetrate better, says Dr. Hadley King, board-certified dermatologist at SKINNEY Medspa. The process removes skin’s outer layer of dead cells so its surface is smoother and clearer and reflects light (glows!).
SOLUTION:Incorporate one type of exfoliator at a time into your routine to avoid skin irritation and damage, the GH Beauty Lab recommends. (For instance, if you’re trying a chemical peel, don’t also use a physical scrub or a cleansing brush at the same time). Try a single-use wipe like First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, which contain two kinds of alpha-hydroxy acids at levels that are safe for sensitive skin.
3. You’re forgetting to moisturize regularly.
Dull complexion is calling out for something moisture. Dr. Kenneth Howe, dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology, says daily life and environment stressors create cracks in our skin’s surface, giving the appearance of dullness.
SOLUTION: Moisturizer fills in those fissures with added lipids, the natural fats of the skin, presenting a smooth, reflective surface. Dr. Melanie Palm, board-certified dermatologist and the director of Art of Skin MD, suggests using moisturizers with ingredients like ceramides, which help repair skin barrier function and improve water retention, and hyaluronic acid, which plumps skin cells by attracting water to surrounding tissue. (IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream is a great choice that contains both.)
“Apply your moisturizer in gentle, upward strokes to boost blood circulation and stimulate the cells around your face and neck,” recommends Dr. Debra Luftman, board-certified dermatologist. “This will bring oxygen to the surface of your skin, making it look nourished and healthy.”
4. You’re super stressed.
Stress plays a large role in brilliance of your skin—or the lack thereof. “Stress causes an increase in cortisol, which can affect blood flow to the skin and [affect]skin repair,” says Dr. Luftman. Translation: whatever deadline, argument, or frustration it is you’re holding onto could be what’s standing between you and lustrous skin.
SOLUTION: Stress management is crucial. Take time to de-stress at home. Adopting a more positive attitude was a common, important factor in “super-agers” (women who look 10+ years younger than their actual age) according to an Olay study. Also, try learning strategies to calm your mind and manage stress, which will help improve your complexion now and in the future.
5. You are sleep deprived.
Anything that keeps you up at night is getting in the way of your best skin. “Sleep is the body’s restorative time when your skin cells repair themselves and regenerate,” explains Dr. Palm. “If that period is shortened or altered, skin cells cannot perform at their optimum.”
SOLUTION: Log seven to nine hours of sleep to stay looking (and feeling!) your best. Night creams tackle tough skin issues while you drift off. For even more moisturizing power, swap in an extra-nourishing overnight mask weekly or as needed in place of your night cream. In our Beauty Lab’s test, Amorepacific Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque increased skin’s moisture levels by 49%.
6. Your environment is affecting your skin.
Your environment could be dulling down your skin with air pollutants, low humidity, harsh winds, and UV exposure, which can wreak havoc on unprotected skin. In one study, researchers tracked women who lived in both rural and urban areas for over 20 years and found that the city dwellers ended up with significantly more brown spots and lines.
SOLUTION: You don’t have to relocate to keep your skin smooth and even. First, always wash your face before bed, “otherwise, pollutant particles can clog pores” while you sleep, says Annie Chiu, M.D., director of The Derm Institute in Redondo Beach, CA. Then, apply a good antioxidant product every morning to “mop up the free radicals that we’re exposed to every day, which stops them from doing harm,” says Dr. Chiu. Some of the best ones are green tea, white tea, vitamin C, and resveratrol; try the white tea-loaded Origins A Perfect World Age-Defense Moisturizer. And always wear SPF daily to shield skin from the sun and pollutants.
If you live in a high-smog area, one way to counteract the effects of your environment is by getting some exercise. “Aerobic activity enhances circulation to skin, which helps in nutrient exchange and removal of toxins from our skin cells,” advises Dr. Palm, so add a stop at the gym to your routine and get ready to notice a big difference.