What causes dull skin?

Dull skin lacks radiance. It does not reflect the light well, causing it to appear listless with an uneven texture. Very often, such skin is also dry and patchy and it's missing the well-known healthy glow.

Considering the common causes of dullness, that is not a surprise. Dull skin is ailing - not seriously, but enough to prevent it from functioning on an optimal level.

Improve dry or dull skin to restore a natural glow and rejuvenate your skin health.

Dull or dry skin tends to be patchy, flaky, rough or irritated. Your skin will appear healthier if it holds more moisture, because skin that lacks moisture can be vulnerable to a weakened skin barrier, which in turn causes dry areas and premature ageing. 

Dull skin causes

The six leading causes of dull skin are:

1. Dryness

First of all, dryness and dehydration are not synonyms. Dry skin lacks natural oils (sebum), while dehydrated skin lacks moisture. Also, dry skin is one of four basic types of healthy skin. The others include normal, oily, and combination skin. All of these types may become dehydrated.

So, genetic factors contribute to dry skin. However, exposure to cold and dry air also contributes significantly. High-quality topical products supplement the lack of natural oils and improve skin condition.

2. Dehydration

A dehydrated skin barrier causes skin to become itchy and appear dull and "shadowy", so the key to caring for it is to develop a routine which constantly rehydrates that barrier.

Topicals are valuable here too, but they provide limited help with dehydration. The best way to fix dehydrated skin is from within (adequate water intake and diet).

Water is essential for healthy and radiant skin. It also boosts the proper functioning of the entire body and improves general well-being.

3. Lack of proper skincare

The foundation of skincare is the cleanse-tone-moisturise regimen. However, in times of crisis, you wouldn't go wrong with moisturise-moisturise-moisturise. Hydration is vital for healthy and great-looking skin.

4. Ageing

As skin ages, its ability to rehydrate, remain healthy, and function properly diminishes. The resulting imbalance can produce a dull appearance. Therefore, it is invaluable to take good care of your skin, both inside and out.

5. The build-up of dead skin cells

The build-up of dead skin cells on the surface is a byproduct of the self-regenerative cycle the skin completes approximately every 28 days.

However, sometimes this layer of dead cells does not shed off properly and traps the "new" skin producing a dull appearance. The best way to fix this is regular exfoliation.

6. Smoking

Smoking helps many processes that contribute to dull-looking skin. These include:

  • Oxidative stress,
  • Collagen production impairment,
  • Loss of elasticity, and
  • Premature ageing

The bottom line

Dull skin is unattractive but easy to fix. With smarter lifestyle choices and a well-designed skincare routine, you can have healthy and radiant skin all the time. Hydrate and moisturise your skin to restore the barrier and maintain a healthy complexion, with a range of treatments available.

If you would like to speak to a Doctor or Dermal Clinician about your skin concerns, please call us or book your appointment online.


• Bize C, Le Gélébart E, Moga A, Payré B, Garcia C. Barrier disruption, dehydration and inflammation: Investigation of the vicious circle underlying dry skin. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2021;43(6):729-737. doi:10.1111/ics.12748
• Boismal F, Serror K, Dobos G, Zuelgaray E, Bensussan A, Michel L. Vieillissement cutané - Physiopathologie et thérapies innovantes [Skin aging: Pathophysiology and innovative therapies]. Med Sci (Paris). 2020;36(12):1163-1172. doi:10.1051/medsci/2020232
• Ortiz A, Grando SA. Smoking and the skin. Int J Dermatol. 2012;51(3):250-262. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2011.05205.x