October 01, 2019

Causes of dull skin, what products to avoid, and which ingredients to try for a brighter complexion


Sometimes, especially in periods of stress, our skin just looks… tired. Everyone has experienced days where their skin looks dull and dim, and may even feel rough to the touch. If you’re wondering how to brighten skin for a more awakened glow, you’re not alone!

You might be tempted to take this lackluster moment as an opportunity to perfect your contour and highlighting techniques, in order to make your skin appear healthier. While makeup can be a quick fix, you should know that cases of dull skin are usually a matter of internal and external factors that you can prevent and mitigate. We’ll tell you how to brighten skin safely, without the help of harmful chemical lighteners.

Potential Causes of Dull Skin

Sun Damage
Exposure to the sun’s rays causes a buildup of the pigment melanin, which is responsible for the appearance of sun tans. While many of us enjoy the sun-kissed look of a fresh tan, tanning actually contributes to long term damage. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause sunburn and damage the inner-layer of skin, potentially resulting in sun spots and an overall more dull complexion.

Stress can affect your skin in multiple ways, many of which lead to tired skin. One of the first factors is caused by stress is a lack of sleep. Sleep is an absolutely crucial period for your skin, as is the best time for your epidermis and skin barrier to repair and strengthen themselves. If you’re not getting the optimal seven hours of sleep throughout your entire week, it’s time to consider strategies for improving your beauty rest.

PRO TIP: One of the biggest changes you can make to your evening routine is to set a screen time ‘curfew’ at least 1 hour before bed. The emission of blue light from electronic devices has been proven to disturb healthy sleep patterns.

Stress also affects your skin on a deeper level: when the body is stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released to help regulate anxiety and tension. When cortisol is released, it is carried throughout your body through the bloodstream. In this case, the circulation in your face may be weaker than normal, thus robbing you of your rosy cheeks.

Free Radical Damage
Free radicals occur when a depleted atom bonds with another atom in order to complete it. This means that more often than not, free radicals are unstable because they react quickly with other substances in order to gain more electrons.

While the accumulation of free radicals is normal in all individuals, too much can lead to long-term harm to your skin. The buildup of free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which can damage cells and proteins, which can then lead to premature aging. Meanwhile, a sudden buildup can cause a sallow, discolored complexion.

Free radical exposure is inevitable, but there are ways to curb oxidative buildup. One of the best lines of defense is the topical use of antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent free radical damage by offering an extra electron to unstable atoms, and can be found in red wine, blueberries and dark chocolate.

Girl Robe
The Dark Side of Skin Lightening Products

In the past few years, skin lightening products have become a highly controversial topic in skin care. One of the biggest reasons for this controversy is the harmful ingredients many of these products contain, including harmful bleaches and chemicals. While not all skin brightening agents are dangerous, there are a few that ought to be approached with caution.

Hydroquinone is one of the most commonly-used skin lightening agents, and is included in health and beauty products to lighten the skin. Hydroquinone prevents the production of pigment in our bodies known as melanin, which serves a protective purpose against UV rays and shouldn’t be completely eradicated.

While hydroquinone may assist with fading hyperpigmentation and dark spots, it can also cause some unpleasant side effects. These include dry, irritated skin, erythema (skin reddening), and contact dermatitis.

Easily the most severe side effect from hydroquinone is the risk of developing ochronosis, which causes a black cluster of pigmentation to spread across your skin. This potential risk is not only unpleasant, but also defeats the purpose of using hydroquinone in the first place!

Urea is a naturally-occurring substance in our bodies, but can also be synthetically made from ammonia and carbon dioxide. Urea is a humectant, which means that it helps your skin by holding onto water molecules and promoting moisture on your skin’s surface, deeming it a useful moisturizer.

While there is no research suggesting a severe risk associated with urea, the side effects can be unpleasant. These include contact dermatitis, stinging skin, and the development of red, itchy rashes.

How to Brighten Skin with Natural Ingredients

One of the best ways to achieve a healthy glow is by living a healthy lifestyle. This means managing stress, getting plenty of sleep, and eating a diet high in minerals and antioxidants.

There are also cleansers, moisturizers, and serums that can help brighten your skin (without the risk of serious side effects). Keep an eye out for skin care products that contain the following beneficial ingredients:

Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid derived from sugarcane, and is considered by many dermatologists to be the best of its breed.

Glycolic acid chemically exfoliates the skin by sloughing off dead skin cells and reducing the effects of photodamage. Due to its potency, serums containing glycolic acid should be used only once or twice a week. Those with sensitive skin should initially try a small amount and gauge for any reaction before continuing with regular use.

Sea Buckthorn Oil
Sea buckthorn is a plant harvested high in the Himalayas. The red sea buckthorn berry is incredibly nutritious, containing a wealth of minerals, flavonoids, and all of the omega fatty acids.

Sea buckthorn oil can reduce inflammation and UV damage. It also helps to increase and preserve skin elasticity, making it an ideal ingredient for anti-aging. Puristry’s Seaberry Moisturizer features organic sea buckthorn as a primary ingredient, along with organic shea and organic grapeseed oil, making this moisturizer a vegan, non-toxic, and cruelty-free product.

Aloe Vera
Unlike the harsh environment in which it grows, aloe vera is highly nourishing. The flesh of this succulent plant can help fade scars and blemishes, while delivering oxygen and hydration to the skin. Aloe vera is one of the main ingredients found in Puristry’s Nopal Cactus Cleanser, which makes it extremely hydrating and nourishing.

Dull skin is tiresome enough as it is – it doesn’t help that the beauty industry is rife with skin lightening products that are made with potentially harmful chemicals. Just so, there is also a wealth of safe products made with gentle, effective, and organic ingredients. So if you’re wondering how to brighten skin safely, start by learning what’s causing the dullness. Next, promote your youthful glow with ingredients made from nature – the rest will fall into place!

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