Dull complexion is the term used to denote skin that has lost its liveliness and brightness. The skin loses the natural glow and radiance associated with youth and health. When the skin is damaged and loses its moisture, it also loses its smoothness and brightness causing dull skin. A dull complexion is a dermatological problem for many people. The skin is naturally a wonderful organ, and in its natural state, it has a good healthy glow if the body’s health is good. But if there is any physical, emotional or mental deterioration, the first visible signs appear in the skin.
Causes of dull skin
Dull skin can be caused due to:-
- Pollutants – People, especially in urban areas are exposed to many harmful pollutants and chemicals day in and day out. During travelling, they are affected by pollutants from vehicles and otherwise, there are pollutants from industries.
- Sun exposure – The harmful rays from the sun, especially the ultra violet rays affect the skin and make it age quickly and reducing the glow.
- Aging – Aging is one of the primary reasons for dull skin. The skin loses its natural tone as it ages and can also become lax, flabby and lose the fresh cells on the various layers, leading to the dull pallor.
- Dead cells – When dead cells accumulate on the surface of the skin, they automatically dull the complexion.
- Poor blood circulation – Poor or improper blood circulation might also cause dull skin.
- Smoking / Alcohol intake – Excessive smoking or alcohol intake can cause dehydration and reduce the glow of the skin.
- Bad dietary habits – Improper diet and lack of nutrients, reduced water intake might dull the complexion and affect the radiance of the skin.
- Lack of exfoliation – Regular exfoliation is necessary to remove the uppermost layers of dead skin. This gives way for the underlying bright new cells to reach the surface. If the dead cells accumulate, the skin loses its health and consequently the glow.
- Impaired body internal health – If the functioning of body organs are impaired, then due to changes in nutrition to the skin, blood supply to the skin, hormonal changes etc. the health of the skin is affected.
- Stress – Stress in any form be it emotional, mental, physical affects the health and quality of the skin.
Prevention of dull skin
- Exfoliation – It is one of the most underrated skin care routines. Regular exfoliation is a must for the skin to feel fresh and decrease the rapidity of the aging. Just washing the face cannot remove the dead skin layer. The cells must be removed by proper exfoliation using the right products. It must not be too harsh (that might accelerate the signs of aging) or too mild (the purpose will be lost). Exfoliation can also remove the dry skin above to give way for the bright skin to come up. And a lesser known but important use for exfoliation is creating a fresh canvas that allows for other skin care products to reach the underlying layers of the skin.
- Moisturization – Dull skin is also associated with dryness and this happens due to the skin losing its natural oils and moisture. Regular moisturizing is necessary for the skin to feel fresh. Everyday demands on the skin actually dull it and crack the surface. Moisturizers fill the cracks that open up by lipids and seal the gaps by the natural fat of the skin. This results in a smooth, reflective surface. In addition to this, moisturizers also help in repairing skin barrier function and water retention. If applied properly, moisturizers improve blood circulation and stimulate cells.
- Proper diet and water intake – Lack of the required amount of water will dehydrate the body and reflect on the skin by making it dry and dull. Dehydration affects blood circulation and reduces the volume of blood flow to the skin. Drinking lots of water regularly (not only when thirst strikes or if the lips or skin feel dry) will help keep dehydration at bay and even flush out toxins from the bloodstream. Intake of proper nutrition via food will help in maintaining the healthy skin. Food provides the necessary nutrients for the skin and body. A healthy body can reflect on the glow in the skin.
- Maintaining a sleep cycle – Sleep is the most important part of recuperation. It is the time when the body gets its rest and allows the various organs to repair and regenerate. If the sleep period is reduced, the organs do not have enough time to repair and regenerate. Especially skin cells stop performing their best. Lack of sleep affects blood circulation and causes eye bags, dark circles, skin pallor, flaky and dehydrated skin.
- Reducing stress – Increase in stress levels increases cortisol, affecting blood flow and blood circulation. Without proper blood circulation it becomes impossible for the skin to repair itself. Increasing stress levels have many adverse effects, including causing skin aging and dullness.
- Reducing smoking and alcohol – Reducing levels of smoking or alcohol intake, even completely stopping will help the skin rejuvenate. Carcinogenic content present in cigarettes is detrimental to the skin in the way it causes the collagen to break down and appear sallow or wrinkled. Alcohol causes dehydration which affects skin.
In addition to these, dermatological treatments including microdermabrasion, chemical peeling, laser exfoliation, specific creams and other treatment methods will help dull skin. Approaching dull skin as a dermatological condition would also identify the root cause of the problem and eliminate it. Dermatologists approach dull skin with a cosmetic and medical perspective.
Dr. Rinky Kapoor is the best dermatologist and cosmetologist in Mumbai, India. She is a Fellow of National Skin Centre Singapore and is a much sought after consultant dermatologist and skin laser expert. She co-founded The Esthetics Clinics in Mumbai, India and is a consultant dermatologist at Fortis Hospital.