Dull skin isn’t the worst thing in the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kick it to the curb! Good news for you, there are tons of amazing skincare ingredients to use for dull skin. There are quite a few reasons your skin may be looking dull or sallow but don’t fear, I have a solution for each and every problem you may run into.
So what ingredients are best to use for dull skin? Here’s a quick cheat sheet to keep in mind while shopping for skincare:
- Glycolic Acid
- Salicylic Acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Hyaluronic Acid
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How to Get Rid of Dull Skin
There are numerous reasons your skin may not be looking it’s finest, so, unfortunately, that means there isn’t a one size fits all solution. Dull or sallow skin can be caused by dehydration, excess dead skin, lack of sleep, or hyperpigmentation. Some basic prevention steps to keep in mind include:
Always be sure to drink enough water during the day (especially during the summer or after exercise). Also, be sure to slather on that sunscreen! Sun exposure causes premature aging, dark spots, sallowness, and uneven pigmentation.
The last easily preventable cause of dull skin is not getting enough sleep. Beauty sleep is very important people! Not getting enough z’s can cause your skin to appear ashy, pigmented, or even blotchy. 😫
What Ingredients Should You Use For Dull Skin?
After you’ve ruled out the simple lifestyle reasons that may be causing your sallow complexion it’s time to think about incorporating some ingredients targeted towards dull skin into your daily routine!
Ingredients for Dull Dehydrated Skin
A lack of moisture is a sure-fire way to end up with dull and dry skin. This is actually one of the issues I struggle with most so I have quite a bit of experience in this area!
Niacinamide, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid are going to be your best buddies while battling dehydrated skin. Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is able to hold 1000x its weight in water and helps to plump up the skin and boost water retention! Niacinamide has been proven to improve hyperpigmentation and is naturally inflammatory which is a godsend for blotchy dull skin.
Lastly, ceramides help reinforce your skin barrier and seal in moisture. This makes them a truly perfect ingredient to combine with niacinamide and HA. The entire line of CeraVe skincare is actually packed with ceramides (hence the name CeraVe).
The CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash is a drugstore favorite of mine. It contains three essential ceramides (1, 3, 6-II) and hyaluronic acid to help retain the skin’s natural moisture. If you struggle with dry skin this cleanser will rock your world. It will thoroughly cleanse your skin and after you rinse it off your skin will feel like you just got done with a spa-level intense hydrating treatment! I’ve been using this cleanser for over 6 months and don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
Moving onto serums, I recommend alternating The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% Serum with the Orlette Hyaluronic Acid Serum with Vitamin C & E. The latter is a 4% hyaluronic acid serum with witch hazel + jojoba oil which are some of my all-time favorite skincare ingredients for dull dehydrated skin. I’ve been using this in both my AM and PM routine a few months and it’s definitely helped my skin regain the hydration that I lost during the change of the seasons.
After serums, I recommend a moisturizer formulated with ceramides to help seal in all that hydration you just added into the mix. My holy grail drugstore moisturizer is the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, it’s been a miracle for my dull dehydrated skin. It’s formulated with 3 essential ceramides that lock in moisture all day long.
Ingredients to Exfoliate Dull Skin
Skimping on exfoliation during your skincare routine is a very common cause of a less than glowing complexions. Dead skin cells and excess sebum can cause your skin to look sallow and/or ashy. Exfoliating 2-3 times a week should be your goal to keep your skin in tip-top shape.
I vastly prefer using chemical exfoliants over the traditional scrubs we all grew up with, but that just my personal preference. Learn more about which is best for you here. Chemical exfoliants are applied in a thin layer over the entire face and ensure an even level of exfoliation. I personally prefer using chemical exfoliants like lactic acid and glycolic acid over a standard facial scrub or brush.
Here are my top recommendations for chemical exfoliants that will help you kick your dull skin’s butt:
- Yeouth Glycolic Acid Peel 30% (full review in insta post below) under $25
- THE ORDINARY AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution $7.20
- THE ORDINARY Lactic Acid 10% + HA (this has hyaluronic acid as well!) $6.80
- THE ORDINARY Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% $7.90
Ingredients for Over Pigmented and Dull Skin
Let’s move on to dull skin caused by pigmentation. Over pigmented skin can stem from sun exposure, acne scars, fluctuations in hormone levels or even your oral contraception! As you age this also becomes a more common issue, so even if you aren’t concerned about hyperpigmentation right now it’s always a good idea to use preventative skincare ingredients so you don’t run into problems down the road.
Here are some things to look out for while shopping for skincare to target hyperpigmentation:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E (a powerful combo with Vitamin C)
- Azelaic Acid
- Licorice Extract
The same Orlette Hyaluronic Acid Serum with Vitamin C & E that I mentioned earlier for dehydrated skin is also a great option for tackling excess pigmentation! I’ve also had great results with The Ordinary Azelaic Acid, this chemical exfoliant has been clinically proven to lighten over pigmented skin. It’s also a great product for acne-prone skin so if you’re struggling with both active acne and scars or pigmentation I highly recommend incorporating an azelaic acid skincare product into your skincare rotation.
I can’t stand licorice as a candy (I had an unfortunate Easter incident in my childhood after I was let loose on an entire family size bag of Twizzlers, enough said….) but it actually makes for a wonderful skincare ingredient!
Licorice Extract Benefits for Dull Skin
Licorice extract is a natural anti-inflammatory and contains potent antioxidants called glabridin and glycyrrhizin, so it’s a common ingredient in products meant for sensitive, reddened skin. (source)
Licorice root also combats hyperpigmentation and dark spots by hindering melanin and free radical production. It helps your skin produce higher levels of antioxidants which also help prevent UV damage from sun exposure.
All these benefits make licorice extract a must-have addition to any skincare routine targeted towards fighting dull complexions! Here are some products to get licorice root into your skincare routine:
- QRx Labs Whitening Serum with 2% Alpha Arbutin, Kojic Acid & Licorice Root Extract
- Eucerin Redness Relief Night Creme
- Paula’s Choice BOOST 10% Azelaic Acid Booster Cream Gel, Licorice Extract & Salicylic Acid $36.00
Skincare Vitamins To Use For Dull Skin
Hair, skin, nails supplements are also an easy way to say hasta la vista to dull skin. There’s no reason to spend a ton of cash on spendy vitamins. I’ve published a detailed guide on budget-friendly skincare supplements for different skin concerns that you may run into, read more about it here!