BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

9 Causes of Dull, Tired Skin and How to Brighten it for Good

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Fact: luminous, glowing skin never goes out of style. But maintaining a radiant face isn’t always easy, and the reality is there are reasons your skin is missing that so-called glow. So what exactly does it mean to have dull skin? Our skin constantly sheds dead cells, but if the process isn’t working efficiently, your complexion can take on a lackluster, tired, unhealthy appearance that emphasizes wrinkles, for example.

The good news: There are easy ways to get back that 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 causes below is responsible. Learn about these habits below and try dermatologist-recommended home remedy fixes including skincare products and treatments to get rid of, rejuvenate and brighten dull, tired skin in no time.

1. The Cause: You’re dehydrated — and so is your skin.

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    Dehydration decreases the volume of blood flow to the skin, making you look “pale and sickly,” explains Tammie Umbel, founder of Shea Terra Organics. Though dehydration may seem like a short-term problem solved by a glass of water, Janet Prystowsky, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist in New York, encourages viewing skin dehydration as a long-term issue. 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.

    THE BEST TREATMENT: Drink up! Aim for at least eight cups per day of water or other sugar- and caffeine-free beverages like naturally flavored seltzers, recommends Good Housekeeping Institute Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Stefani Sassos.

    2. The Cause: You’re not exfoliating.

    Chances are you’re washing your face every day (phew). But there’s a crucial skincare routine step almost half of women miss, according to a GH survey: exfoliating. The process removes dry, dead skin cells, creating a fresh canvas that allows topical products to penetrate better, says Hadley King, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. “Exfoliation is the best way to smooth skin’s surface so it reflects light and appears glowing or brightened,” says GH Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann.

    THE BEST TREATMENT: Incorporate one type of exfoliator at a time — either
    a physical formula like a face scrub or a chemical one such as a face peel — into your routine to avoid skin irritation and damage, the Beauty Lab recommends, and protect with a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ face sunscreen every morning.

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    3. The Cause: You’re forgetting to moisturize regularly.

    Dryness is the most common cause of dull face skin. It creates cracks in skin’s surface and causes dead skin cells to build up, making the complexion look uneven and lackluster, says Kenneth Howe, M.D., a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in NYC.

    THE BEST TREATMENT: Applying a moisturizer every morning and evening fills in those fissures with lipids, which mimic the natural fats of the skin, creating a smooth, reflective surface. Look for moisturizers with ingredients like ceramides to help repair skin barrier function and improve water retention, and hyaluronic acid, which plumps skin cells by attracting water, advises Melanie Palm, M.D., a dermatologist and the director of Art of Skin MD in Solana Beach, California. Extra credit: “Apply moisturizer in upward strokes to boost blood circulation and stimulate cells,” suggests Debra Luftman, M.D., a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, CA. “This brings oxygen to skin’s surface, making it look nourished and healthy.”

    4. The Cause: You’re super stressed.

    Whether brought on by a pressing deadline, an argument, a big life change
    or just the day-to-day grind, feeling anxious plays a role in your skin’s brilliance — or
    lack of it. “Stress causes the hormone cortisol to increase, which can negatively affect blood flow to skin and skin repair,” Dr. Luftman explains.

    THE BEST TREATMENT: Carve out a few minutes per day (or more!) to de-stress. Try a quick yoga session, mindful breathing or a soak in an aromatherapy bath (look for bath salts or oils with lavender, which studies show promotes relaxation). “These help relax your body and bring your mind to the present,” says George Slavich, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research at UCLA. The result: a more peaceful you — and healthier, more radiant skin over time.

    5. The Cause: You are sleep deprived.

    Anything that keeps you up at night can stand between you and glowing skin. “Sleep is when your skin cells repair themselves and regenerate,” Dr. Palm explains. “If that period is shortened or altered, skin cells can’t perform at their optimum level.”

    THE BEST TREATMENT: Aim to log about seven to nine hours of sleep per night. For added anti-aging benefits, apply a night treatment with an ingredient like retinol to boost collagen production while you doze. To maximize moisturizing power, swap in an extra-nourishing overnight face mask weekly in place of night cream. (In GH Beauty Lab testing, Amorepacific Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque increased skin’s moisture levels by 49%.)

    6. The Cause: The environment is affecting your skin.

    Environmental factors such as air pollution, low humidity, harsh winds and exposure to UV rays from the sun can dull unprotected skin. In one study, researchers tracked women who lived in rural places and others in urban areas for over 20 years and found that the city dwellers ended up with significantly more lines and dark spots.

    THE BEST TREATMENT: You don’t have to relocate (or hide in a cave) to keep your skin smooth and even. First, be diligent about cleansing your face each night. “Otherwise, pollution particles can clog pores,” while you sleep, says Annie Chiu, M.D., a dermatologist and the director of The Derm Institute in Redondo Beach, CA. Your next defense: daily broad-spectrum SPF 30+ to shield against UV rays and pollution, plus an antioxidant product like a serum every morning to “stop the free radicals we’re exposed to in the environment from harming skin,” she advises. (Some of the most effective antioxidants are vitamin C, green and white tea and resveratrol.) Another way to counteract the environment’s detrimental effect on skin is regular exercise. “Aerobic activity enhances circulation to skin, which helps in nutrient exchange and removal of toxins from our skin cells,” Dr. Palm says.

    7. The Cause: You’re a smoker.

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    Not only is puffing away harmful to your health, but it can also sap skin’s glow. “Carcinogenic substances are extremely detrimental to skin integrity and structure,” Dr. Palm says. “Cigarette smoking causes collagen breakdown, making skin appear sallow, waxy, and wrinkled over time.”

    THE BEST TREATMENT: You know all this, but seriously — try to get help to quit smoking, your body (and loved ones) will thank you.

    8. The Cause: You’re overdoing it with matte makeup.

    Avoid mattifying cosmetics like heavy or chalky powders, which absorb skin’s natural oils (and glow). And steer clear of makeup removers containing alcohol, as they can sap skin-plumping moisture.

    THE BEST TREATMENT: Opt for a base like a BB cream that’s made with moisturizers to boost dewiness — or, for more coverage, a foundation with light-reflecting pigments (look for words like “radiance,” “glow” and “luminizing” on the bottle). “These bounce light off the skin so it looks more even-toned,” says makeup artist Troy Surratt, cofounder of Surratt Beauty. A touch of cream highlighter in a champagne color for fair skin or gold for medium to dark skin instantly erases dullness too. Swipe it along the length of your cheekbones for “a pretty, dewy effect that makes your entire face seem more luminous,” he recommends.

    9. The Cause: You’re not eating a healthy diet.

    The age-old saying “you are what you eat” very much applies here. What you put into your body is reflected in your complexion, so don’t expect to under-nourish your body and see radiant skin.

    THE BEST TREATMENT: Stay away from salty and processed foods—they “enhance tissue swelling through fluid retention, which retards ideal light reflection,” Dr. Palm says. Nutritionist Paula Simpson recommends steering clear of the “typical Western diet” all together, which in her own words includes ingredients that are “high in sugar and fat, and devoid of fiber, antioxidants, high-quality protein and essential fatty acids,” all major culprits when it comes to dull skin. There are healthy food options out there to please both your stomach and your skin. Dr. Howe suggests antioxidant-rich food like blueberries, cranberries, red beans and pinto beans, while Dr. Palm advises good-fat treats like avocados and walnuts, as well as citrus fruits and kiwi, which contain vitamin C, known to boost collagen growth.

    6 Simple Steps to Get Glowing ASAP

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