After a long week at work or a fun weekend of activities, you may glimpse in the mirror and notice your skin looks dull and tired—think dry, patchy, ashy, and overall lackluster. While there are a number of causes for a less-than-luminous appearance, the good news is that with a few simple steps, you can get that bright, healthy-looking glow back in no time.

What Causes Dull and Tired Skin?

The causes of dull and tired skin can vary, and pinpointing the culprit can take some trial and error. In general, dull skin is the result of dehydration, so be sure you're drinking enough water and limiting diuretics. Beverages like tea, coffee, and alcohol have a diuretic effect, meaning that they can zap your body and skin of water and leave you not feeling, or looking, your best.

Environmental aggressors like cold weather, pollution, and ultraviolet radiation can create oxidative stress that impairs your skin's barrier function by damaging essential skin-plumping proteins, like collagen. You might find that your skin is lacking in brightness after a few days in a bustling city or a long day out in the sun.

Lack of sleep is also a major—and very common—cause of dull and tired skin. In fact, a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine showed a direct correlation between a lack of sleep and more swollen eyes, dark circles under the eyes, and hanging eyelids. According to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, your skin conducts a number of important repair processes while you rest at night, renewing itself faster than during the day. During this time, the skin addresses environmental damage faced during the day while increasing blood flow and collagen production, helping the skin to stay plump and youthful-looking. When it doesn't have the opportunity to carry out this vital work, your complexion suffers.

How to Look More Awake

Maintaining a vibrant and "awake" look starts with your lifestyle. Keeping up with your diet, rest, and skin care will go a long way toward the bright, glowing skin you crave. Here's how to look more awake, even on days when you want to hit the snooze button.

Maintain a Healthy, Balanced Diet

The food you eat can have a direct correlation to your skin health. For instance, processed food and refined sugar have been proven to increase inflammation, break down collagen and elastin in the skin, and leave your complexion looking drier and duller. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and healthy sources of fat like avocados, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, on the other hand, can help to retain moisture and essential lipids, keeping the skin looking healthy and plump. Drinking plenty of water and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine can also help to maintain skin moisture and a brighter complexion.

Wear Tinted Sunscreen

Sunscreen should be worn all year long, and a tinted sunscreen is perfect for everyday use. Tinted sunscreens even out your skin's complexion and texture so you can put your best face forward. EltaMD's line of tinted sunscreen comes in a variety of shades, blending seamlessly into both fair and dark skin tones, and doesn't weigh you down.

Prioritize Beauty Sleep

The term "beauty sleep" isn't just a saying. Enjoying a full eight hours of quality sleep can do wonders for your complexion—especially if it appears dull and tired. Paired with your nighttime skin care routine, your complexion should appear brighter, smoother, and more awake in the morning. Why not try having an early night two to three times a week, after a relaxing evening of reading and applying your favorite products? You may be surprised by the results.

Your skin's natural renewal process mostly happens at night; this is when the dermis replaces dead skin cells with younger, fresher skin beneath. As such, your nighttime skin care routine is the ideal time to boost this renewal, seeing as your products have time to sink deeply into your skin and reap the full benefits of the active ingredients.

Before bed, start with a gentle cleanser like the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser to remove makeup, debris, and oil. Then, follow it up with the EltaMD Skin Recovery System Kit that uses a toner to target concerns like congestion and dullness by removing dead skin and a strengthening serum and lightweight moisturizer that helps to lock in moisture and keep dry skin at bay.

And for the main event, pamper your dull and tired skin with the rejuvenating EltaMD Skin Recovery Night Mask, the final step in the Recovery System. Its formula is designed to visibly reduce the appearance of redness and irritation, improve hydration, and revitalize the look of tired skin. It also helps to repair a damaged barrier and defend against the visible effects of lack of sleep—so even if you miss a few hours, the Skin Recovery Night Mask has your back. With EltaMD's patented combination of three amino acids (AA Complex), Chronobiology Technology that helps to support the skin's natural circadian rhythm, and antioxidants that defend against free radicals, healthy skin will be waiting for you when you wake up.

Waking Up Fresh

After a few weeks of prioritizing sleep, eating well, and maintaining a good skin care routine, you should start to notice your complexion appears brighter and more revitalized. Just a few small tweaks to your lifestyle can make a big difference. Why not start tonight and wake up with radiant skin tomorrow?


  • Catherine Hufton

    Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.

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