Lackluster, flat—these aren’t words you’d generally want to use to describe your skin. Unfortunately, common stressors, like sleep deprivation, sun exposure, and even dehydration can cause your skin to take on a dull, lifeless appearance. Even if your skin is blemish-free and even-toned, dullness can make you look tired and worsen the appearance of minor textural concerns, like rough patches. Thankfully, if your skin looks dull, the fix is fairly straightforward: proper skincare.
Here, we’ll show you exactly how to manage dull-looking skin. You’ll learn a little bit about what can cause dull skin and discover a simple six-step routine to help restore your skin’s radiant appearance. Grab a bottle of water (gotta stay hydrated) and keep reading for your Kiehl’s guide to brightening dull facial skin.
What Is Dull Skin?
There isn’t one single, universally accepted definition of what constitutes dull skin—it’s more a matter of perception. With that being said, we usually define dullness as the absence of radiance. As for what causes skin to look dull, there can be several factors at play, including a buildup of dead skin cells, uneven pigmentation, and premature aging. We go in-depth into the causes of dullness in our article Dull Skin: What Causes It and How To Treat It.
How To Address Dullness: Your 6-Step Routine
If you’ve noticed your skin looking duller than usual, making a few tweaks to your usual skincare routine can help. Keep reading to discover our six-step routine for glowy, radiant-looking skin.
Step 1: Cleanse and Tone To Remove Buildup
Products that help remove surface debris, like dead skin cells, can help restore your skin’s natural glow. We recommend beginning your routine with a gentle exfoliating face wash, like Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser. The mild formula, which contains volcanic pearlstone and white birch extract, helps remove dirt, excess oil, and pollutants while refining the skin to reveal a smoother, more radiant appearance. The brightening cleanser is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin and can be used twice daily as the first step in your skincare routine.
After washing your face, use a toner to help remove any lingering impurities and help prepare your skin for the rest of your routine. If you’re dealing with dullness, we recommend Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner. It’s made with a mild salicylic acid derivative called lipo-hydroxy acid, as well as a blend of natural emollients, including olive-derived squalane. The dual-phase toner provides gentle chemical exfoliation while helping to restore the skin’s natural moisture levels for a hydrated, comfortable feel. It’s suitable for all skin types and clinically-demonstrated to leave your skin looking softer, smoother, and brighter-looking within one week of consistent use.*
*Results based on expert grading in a clinical study of 44 panelists, ages 30-50, after four weeks of use.
Step 2: Reach For An Antioxidant-Rich Essence
Antioxidants are a cornerstone of an effective skincare routine. These essential compounds neutralize free radicals and help strengthen the skin’s defenses against environmental stressors, like air pollution, which in turn helps promote healthy-looking skin.
After cleansing and toning, layer on an antioxidant-rich essence, like Ferulic Brew Antioxidant Facial Treatment with Lactic Acid. The fast-absorbing treatment with plant-derived ferulic acid and lactic acid provides antioxidant protection to help support your skin’s natural recovery processes. It also helps remove dull surface skin to smooth skin’s texture and tone. The gentle yet effective formula is clinically-demonstrated to diminish the appearance of fine lines and boost skin’s radiance after just seven days, while continued use helps promote a visibly more even, glowing appearance.*
*Results based on expert grading in a four-week consumer test on 60 subjects.
Step 3: Layer On a Brightening Facial Serum
As we mentioned above, skin discolorations can make the skin appear lackluster and uneven. To address uneven skin tone, reach for a brightening facial serum, like our cult-classic Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector.
This iconic Kiehl’s formula with activated vitamin C and peony extract visibly improves the appearance of a wide array of skin discolorations, including post-blemish marks and age spots. It’s suitable for all skin types and tones and can be used daily to promote more even, radiant-looking skin. Apply several drops to your face, neck, and chest as your go-to serum, or use the powerful formula as a targeted treatment to help address stubborn dark spots and discolorations.
Step 4: Smooth Your Skin With Emollients
While facial oils can be intimidating for some, they’re a great way to quickly boost the appearance of radiance. After your serum absorbs, we recommend patting a few drops (that’s all you need) of a lightweight oil onto your face.
During the daytime, bolster your skin’s antioxidant defenses with Daily Reviving Concentrate. The fast-absorbing formula with sunflower oil and ginger root essential oil revitalizes the skin and helps correct the visible signs of fatigue. Though it is an oil, the non-comedogenic formula is ultra-lightweight and suitable for all skin types, even oily skin.
Midnight Recovery Concentrate
At night, you can reach for a slightly richer oil. Try Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which contains evening primrose oil and fragrant lavender essential oil. The luxurious nighttime face oil helps boost essential moisture to replenish the skin while you sleep. Over time, it also helps visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines, leaving your skin looking smooth, youthful, and radiant.
Step 5: Moisturize To Lock In Hydration
Dryness and dullness go hand in hand, and while facial oils are often nourishing, they don’t eliminate the need to moisturize. After applying your chosen face oil, lock in hydration with a mild facial moisturizer, such as our cult-classic Ultra Facial Cream. Made with glycerin and olive-derived squalane, this best-selling formula provides immediate and long-lasting hydration to help maintain the skin’s natural moisture balance. The fast-absorbing cream is suitable for all skin types and can be used twice daily for softer, smoother, and visibly healthier-looking skin.*
*Results based on a four-week clinical test.
If you prefer gel moisturizers, try Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream instead. This unique moisturizer with calendula flower extract absorbs immediately, refreshing the skin with weightless hydration that lasts up to 24 hours. The soothing formula helps improve skin’s texture and tone within one week, while continued use helps visibly diminish redness and dullness for fresh, radiant-looking skin. Remember to layer a broad-spectrum sunscreen over your moisturizer in the morning to help protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays.
Step 6: Mask At Least Once Per Week
At least once per week, we recommend setting aside half an hour to pamper yourself with a relaxing at-home facial treatment. You can use any mask you have on hand, but to help keep your skin looking its radiant best, we recommend Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Mask. The creamy formula, which contains crushed cranberry seeds and antioxidant-rich turmeric root, provides gentle exfoliation and helps invigorate dull, fatigued skin. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used up to three times per week for skin that looks smooth and radiant.