How to Brighten Dull Skin, According to Dermatologists

Sun damage: “Ultraviolet-induced skin changes from the sun can cause premature wrinkling due to the breakdown of skin collagen and solar elastosis, which can lead to dull-appearing skin,” Agbai adds. “Furthermore, excessive UV exposure and hormonal influences can cause diffuse hyperpigmentation of the face called melasma.”

Air pollution: “Air pollution can contribute to dull-appearing skin and premature signs of aging,” Agbai explains. “One research study performed in China found that long-term exposure to air pollution in an urban environment can worsen the appearance of skin aging. This can be due to the production of free radicals in the skin due to prolonged exposure to air pollutants.”

Loss of collagen and elastic tissue: “With age, sun damage, and pollutant damage from our environment and smoking, we lose collagen (which makes up 75 to 80% of our skin) and elastic tissue,” Gmyrek says. “As we lose these proteins, which give our skin structure, the skin becomes thinner with an irregular, not smooth texture and has less fullness, making it appear dull. Also, as fine lines and wrinkles occur on the skin, light is no longer reflected off of a smooth skin surface. Light reflected off of an irregular surface, such as wrinkled skin, is diffused, and the surface appears matte and dull.”

Physical stressors: Poor sleep, dehydration, psychological stress, and excessive alcohol consumption are also factors.