Why Does My Skin Look Dull?

Dullness is one of those skin issues that slowly creeps up on you. You may not notice it on yourself until you’re admiring your teenager’s dewy complexion, look in the mirror and realize your skin looks flat and overall “blah.” The next thing you know, you’re Googling “why does my skin look dull” and, well, here you are. Welcome!

Dull Skin Causes

Let’s cut right to the chase. There are four main reasons your skin is looking dull. In many cases, there is just a single cause but some of you may be experiencing several of the following factors:

Slower Cellular Turnover

As we age, the body’s natural process of cellular regeneration - whereby new cells are made in the dermis, rise through the skin’s layers and are sloughed off the surface - begins to slow. This causes dead skin cells (called “keratin”) to accumulate on the surface of the skin, leading to skin appearing dull and lifeless. This dead skin buildup also exaggerates the appearance of other signs of aging in the skin, like hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles.

Dry Skin

In a similar way, those prone to dryness or dehydration experience keratin buildup on the skin’s surface. Dryness can also be caused by the use of overly aggressive skin care products, living in a low-humidity environment and certain skin conditions, like eczema or psoriasis. Those that live in temperate climates may experience seasonal dryness in the form of Winter Itch.


Those who currently or once were regular smokers tend to experience dull skin tone. This is because nicotine causes the constriction of blood vessels, which limits blood flow and the ability of oxygen to reach the skin’s surface.


Just as the toxins in cigarettes can cause dullness, so too can the toxins in environmental pollution. Skin that is regularly exposed to pollutants is susceptible to free-radical damage that can damage important skin proteins like collagen and elastin, leading to poor skin health and an overall dull appearance.

How to Get a Glowing Complexion

Obviously, the first step in overcoming skin dullness and achieving a glowing complexion is to remove the factors that are causing it. If you smoke, make every attempt to stop. Live in a dry climate? Use a humidifier in your home. Regularly exposed to pollution? Move. (Okay, we’re joking on that last one.)

One of the fastest and simplest ways to overcome dull skin is by ensuring you are regularly and properly exfoliating it. That doesn’t mean you should begin using an abrasive walnut or apricot scrub. Rather, we recommend use of a chemical exfoliant that uses alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids to gently dissolve the thickened keratin layer. (Check out this video with Lexli founder, Dr. Ahmed Abdullah, who explains what exfoliation does to the skin.)

Acids can initially be irritating to some skin types so it’s important to start slowing, perhaps even buffering the exfoliator with a bit of moisturizer, working up to regular use. Lexli AloeGlyC is formulated with a base of organic, pharmaceutical-grade aloe vera and antioxidants to nurture skin while it is being exfoliated by glycolic acid. After slowing increasing usage, AloeGlyC can be used up to twice-daily by some individuals.

In addition to exfoliating, proper skin cleansing is important, especially at the end of the day to remove pollutants and debris that has built up on the skin’s surface. (Read “How to Properly Wash Your Face.”) Additionally, regular use of a hydrating moisturizer, appropriate for your skin type is essential to keeping dry skin at bay while aiding in the achievement of that dewy skin appearance.

Finally, nutrition plays an important role in skin health. After all, we are what we eat. Not sure where to start? Read on to learn the components of a healthy skin diet.

If you’ve overcome a dull skin complexion, leave us a comment telling us your story.

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio