While it’s less easy to spot than acne breakouts or irritation, skin that is dull and tired in appearance is just as important to treat and care for. If you are struggling with brightening your face and want to find a routine that supports having brighter, healthier looking, glossy skin, then we’ve got the guide for you.

Achieving a glowing complexion is the end goal for most of us when we’re exploring skincare, and if you’re struggling to bring that extra oomph into your skin, then there are some tips and ingredients that can make this easier.

In this guide, we’ll be covering:

 → What is dull skin?
      ⋮ What causes dull skin?

 → Brightening skincare ingredients
      ⋮ Vitamin C
      ⋮ Niacinamide
      ⋮ Retinol
      ⋮ Glycolic acid or lactic acid

 How to brighten under eyes and on lips

What is dull skin?

                Dull skin can be as subtle as you noticing that your complexion lacks radiance and healthiness, or it can be more obvious. Your skin might appear dry, tired, patchy, or otherwise lacklustre. Dullness hinges on the lack of ability for your skin to reflect light well, and often the texture of the skin will be uneven, as an even texture is part of this light reflecting ability.

If you notice that your skin looks particularly tired or dull on certain days, try to take note of what you’ve been doing that day and the day before. As well as the right skincare, it’s important to support a healthy complexion with a balanced lifestyle, so if you notice that lack of sleep, a busy work week, or alcohol might be affecting your skin, try to build some more self-care into your week as well as finding the right skincare regimen. Our healthy recipes and our 10-day detox can both help you with ideas on how to kickstart some healthy habits.

What causes dull skin?

There are lots of things that can cause dull skin and being aware of what is at the heart of the issue can help you in choosing ingredients to target it. You might find that there are multiple causes of the dullness, and this can allow you to build a routine that supports and nourishes your complexion so you can get that much-coveted glow.

The causes of dullness in your skin are often as follows:

→ Ageing: As our skin ages, it tends to lose some of its lustre, and this can lead to our faces looking dull. With less collagen and elastin, the skin isn’t replenished as much as when we are younger. As well as brightening ingredients, you might want to try out an anti-ageing regimen tailored to these skincare concerns.

→ Dehydration: Dehydrated skin is a very frequent reason for our faces looking dull. This can be due to hot dry weather, or other environmental factors like
wind, or central heating. It might also be caused by over-exfoliation, not moisturising enough, or our bodies being dehydrated because we aren’t drinking enough water. If this is the case, you might want to start with a moisturising routine to balance your skin as a first step.

Sun exposure: It’s important to protect our faces from the sun, as even the skin doesn’t burn it can become dull from prolonged sun damage.

Tiredness: Lastly, if you are tired from lack of sleep, this can affect your skin much more than you might expect and cause it to look dull.

Brightening skincare ingredients

When you’ve ascertained the cause(s) of the dullness in your complexion, it’s time to find out how you can create the glowing skin you’ve been longing for. There are lots of different ingredients to choose from that can provide brightening skincare and bring that extra glow to your routine. If you want a one-stop shop for your brightening skincare routine, you could also try our brightening regimen to get you started towards this skincare goal.

It’s important to remember that not only can sun damage increase dullness in your skin, but also many skincare ingredients can increase sensitivity to the skin, such as retinol or chemical exfoliants. Therefore, you should always combine your skincare routine with thorough sun care to ensure that you are preventing UV exposure.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C for skin brightening is a well-known and evidenced step to add to your skincare regimen, and it’s famous for its brightening powers for a reason. This antioxidant is rich in nutrients and helps to combat the signs of ageing by battling the effects of free radicals and environmental damage on your skin.

As well as helping to stop environmental factors dulling your face, vitamin C actually brightens up your complexion by inhibiting the amount of melanin your skin can generate — hence keeping ageing sun damage at bay. Whether you want to lighten areas of hyperpigmentation or sun damage, or just brighten up a tired-looking complexion, vitamin C is a brilliant ingredient to include in your regimen.

It’s best used as a serum, where you can choose a high concentration of the ingredient. But you can also find vitamin C included in moisturisers, face masks and brightening creams, and if you’re looking for how to brighten skin naturally, a vitamin C ester is versatile and efficient. Check out our guide to vitamin C serum to find out if it’s right for you.


Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, which is a vitamin involved in cell metabolism. Topical application of this vitamin can interrupt the process of pigmentation in your skin cells, and this brightens your skin over time. This ingredient actually has a number of uses, such as treating acne and helping to prevent the signs of ageing. But its brightening benefits are also undeniable.

For the best results, niacinamide can be combined with other skin brightening powerhouses like vitamin C and retinol as part of a brightening routine. It can be included via a moisturiser, toner, or serum, and is also great for those with sensitive skin as it is very gentle and therefore easy to incorporate into a routine.


Retinol is a form of vitamin A, and this ingredient is extremely good at promoting cell turnover, making it an excellent ingredient for combatting signs of ageing, or for treating acne. As well as these issues, retinol is excellent at face brightening, as new healthy skin is exposed when the older skin cells are taken away. Causing the skin to turn over at a faster rate means that the complexion will look more glowing over time.

If you are introducing retinol to your routine for the first time, it’s worth noting that it can be irritating at first, so test it out slowly and add it after applying moisturiser once per week, and with a lower percentage of retinol. Gradually, you can build this up to a few times per week and a higher percentage of the active ingredient.

You can also choose from a variety of formulations with retinol products, and decide whether you want to go for a cream, serum, or a retinol oil to brighten skin. For those with sensitive skin, rosehip oil can be a good option, as it is gentle but contains some vitamin A, bringing some brightening facial oil benefits without drying out the skin.

Glycolic acid or lactic acid

As well as using retinol to promote cell turnover, another option is to use a chemical exfoliator. Most people are able to use glycolic acid as a chemical exfoliator, but while very effective it can be a little harsh for very sensitive skin types. So, if your skin is very reactive and prone to irritation, try using lactic acid instead, for a gentler product that will still allow you to exfoliate and reap the benefits of uncovering new, healthy skin.

You should usually be exfoliating once or twice per week depending on how sensitive your skin is. It’s important not to get overenthusiastic with exfoliating products, as over-exfoliating can cause your skin to dry out and in fact look duller.

How to brighten under eyes and on lips

If you are looking for under eye brightening solutions to work into your skincare, then you’ll need to keep in mind that the skin under your eyes and on your lips is far more delicate than the skin elsewhere, and you’ll need to choose gentler products. Using specially formulated eye and lip care products will ensure that the formula is made to be suitable for these delicate areas.

To address a dull under-eye area, you should also combine your skin routine with lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and protecting your skin from the sun. Sun exposure can cause excess production of melanin in your complexion, which can emphasis your dark circles more, so it’s well worth remembering your sun cream.

Use these tips to build your ideal skincare routine and target your skincare concerns. If you want to brighten skin, then try our routine for brightening, which has been put together using a unique blend of natural antioxidants to support glowing skin. We also have routines for anti-ageing, dryness, sensitive skin, oily skin, and other skin types, so check them all out here.

For more skincare and natural beauty tips, check out our blog, which contains guides on everything from reducing hyperpigmentation to combatting the effects of pollution. So, make a start on getting that glowing complexion with some natural skincare tips.