My skin looks dull and tired and old. Help. What can I do to brighten skin fast?
I hear you my friend. And we’re here to ‘watt’s up’ your skin health 😉
…without making your skin look greasy. Without using aggressive ‘ouchy’ skin peels. And without telling you to ‘hey just drink more water and get more sleep’.
Sounds awesome right, so let’s get you started, let’s turn your dull, tired, old (and still beautiful regardless) skin to healthy, happy, bright, fresh, glowing (and still beautiful) skin.
1. Brighten Skin by Protecting Your Skin Against ‘Burnout’
I have a confession to make. I’ve walked right through a crazy busy, close to London town center, barefoot. Oh yes I have. Not because I was trying to be boho and at one with earth 😉 because my high heels had decided to become murderous beasts 😂
And they are rub, rub, rubbing on my ankles so hard layers of skin are peeling off and liquid-filled blisters are sprouting up as fast as watercress grows during a stormy, lightening-filled night.
My skin is red, raw and screaming silently at me.
And so I run away from my murderous beasts by taking them in my hands and walking through a heaving city center barefoot. Good job there are a few cocktails involved 😉
Has this happened to you too my friend?
When your skin gets so irritated and rubbed that it blisters or bleeds or becomes so raw it looks like uncooked meat?
And do you remember how this skin healed?
I’m willing to bet all of my skincare that your heels went through a phase of discoloration. Pink to purple to dark, tired and dull.
And it’s completely natural.
Psst – like any good Aesop’s fable, every story has a moral, and the moral to ‘The one where I was a boho princess’ is this – when your skin’s immune function is over-activated skin becomes dull, tired, uneven and old looking.
You likely won’t notice your skin’s triggers for this because instead of a dramatic peeling of skin from a murderous beast of a heel, what your skin’s exposed to day in, day out is mild – but builds steadily like the tap which drip, drips, flooding your shower tray overnight.
Your bright skin gets turned dull and tired by factors like;
- Environmental stressors like central heating/air conditioning
- Harsh skincare
- Hard water
- Overuse of cleansers
- High pH soaps
- … and so much more
All of these factors wake up your skin’s immune function and skin goes into stress-fighting mode.
Psst – when your skin’s in stress-fighting mode, your skin’s soon going to be becoming dull, tired and old-looking.
Don’t worry my friend, there’s lots you can do to brighten skin. And it starts right here with the how to brighten dull skin foundation.
You brighten your skin by using skincare which helps to stop your skin’s immune function from over-reacting.
I know, I know, that sounds super sciencey, but I promise you it’s super simple to do – all you need is a serum or moisturiser which contains anti-inflammatory actives. Because anti-inflammatory actives help soothe your skin’s immune function. Wahoo!
Psst – here’s a quick list of 5 anti-inflammatory skincare actives your skin might love;
- Bisabolol – the reason why chamomile has its soothing rep
- Centella Asiatica
- Colloidal oatmeal
2. Brighten Your Skin by Protecting Your Skin From Damage
Everything in life needs an opposite to exist 😉 can you think of anything which doesn’t?
Woman vs. man.
Bright skin vs. dull skin.
Chocolate vs. vegetables.
Oxidants vs. antioxidants.
…and boom there it is. The second most effective, science proven way to brighten your skin – you use effective, potent antioxidants in concentrations proven to work.
That last bit’s super important.
Oxidants cause stress to your skin. They’re your skin’s version of an exam, a driving test, an all-nighter, a man – oops just joking 😂
Stress uses up your skin battery and this leaves your skin looking dull, tired and older.
So to brighten your skin you add in an oxidants opposite – the antioxidant.
And boom – they cancel each other out. And you get chocolate-coated vegetables 😉 or brighter, happier, healthier and glowing skin. Pretty awesome eh.
One of the antioxidants on my 5 Best Anti-ageing Actives cheatsheet is super uncommonly known about, which is crazy because it’s one of THE most potent. Get your free copy here to find out what it is.
3. Brighten Your Skin by Eating Sun Protecting Foods
My friend, the biggest, most important skincare lesson I could ever teach you is that great ‘skincare’ is not just about what brightening serums or moisturisers you use. It’s about your complete, body health, the foods you eat are a humungous contributor to this.
And guess what – some foods can protect your skin against sun damage.
That’s important when you want to brighten your skin because sunlight causes your skin to build up a crusty top layer, just like a loaf of bread.
Your top layers of skin thicken and harden to form an even more effective sun shield.
…as this happens your bright, fresh and glowing skin is turning dull, tired, uneven and old.
But – when you have a high dose of a specific type of antioxidant called carotenoids inside your skin – this process is defended against, your skin has a carotenoid shield and so it doesn’t need to thicken its own as much.
Yes, yes, yes.
Pro-tip – be sure to eat your tomato puree with something oily because carotenoids need oil to dissolve and be absorbed by your body. That’s why when you’re trying to brighten your skin, you can feel like you’re trying everything the internet tells you but nothing is working – how you do things matters and working with an expert can get you brighter, healthier, happier skin quicker.
How does this incredibly random way to brighten your skin work? Take a peek at this science study quote;
… carotenoids exhibit absorption maxima at wavelengths of UV light. Absorption of UV light protects skin from photodamage.Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2005 Jan;75(1):54-60
Oooeee now there’s some science gook.
My beautiful friend, all this quick quote says is this – carotenoids like those you’ll find in tomatoes can specifically absorb UV light and that when a carotenoid in your skin absorb UV light, UV light is vanquished, put to bed, given a sleeping pill, told to hibernate, tied up and locked in your basement.
Bottom line – brighten skin by eating carotenoids regularly – tomato puree is one of the most concentrated forms of carotenoids.
4. Brighten Your Skin by Getting in the Way of Tyrosinase
Tyrosinase. What a mouth full eh (and not of yummy tomato paste ;)).
Sometimes your skin can look dull and tired because your skin tone’s uneven, patchy and shallow.
If this is a major cause of your dull skin then you must meet Tyrosinase.
In science, we call this dude Tyrosinase an enzyme. Do you remember enzymes from science? And how they’re like keys that unlock very specific doors/reactions in our body?
Well, tyrosinase opens the door to your skin’s colour aka pigment-making machine.
In fact, it’s what we scientists call a rate-limiting step.
Imagine 100 people turning up at your front door right now – your door’s slowing down how quickly these 100 people are swimming in – it’s limiting the rate at which your party can get started.
When it comes to brightening skin if we can get in the way of tyrosinase and slow down how quickly or how much it’s opening up your skin’s colour making machine, then we can even and brighten your skin tone.
Psst – it’s super natural for some areas of skin to get over-excited and make more pigment than other areas. This can leave your skin looking incredibly dull and tired. Skin stress is a number one cause, so because you act on this step, be sure to act on steps 1-3 first (if you need help let me do the hard work for you).
Once you’ve done that – add in a skincare active which gets in the way of that dude Tyrosinase.
One of the most popular and most Googled products which can help you do this is Vichy Vitamin C (although I don’t recommend you use it – more about that soon).
Vitamin C is fantastic at helping to brighten skin. Don’t just take my word for it, get your eyes on this;
Tyrosinase is a key enzyme in melanogenesis, which is essential for pigmentation… The inhibitory effect of several tyrosinase inhibitors suggested that ascorbic acid was the best inhibitor of human tyrosinase.Enzyme Res. 2015; 2015: 262364.
Did you see it? Ascorbic acid (which is the technical name for vitamin C) is ‘the best inhibitor of human tyrosinase‘.
I’m not a fan of Vichy Vitamin C for most people because it contains the most irritating kind of vitamin C called ascorbic acid (take a peek at some other forms here) – and psst – irritation can cause skin damage which can do the opposite of brightening skin. It also has a habit of turning skin brown.
Just last week I had a client tell me she went through this first hand, not realising it was the skincare she was using and struggling for ages, feeling really upset with the health of her skin before realising it was as simple as stopping her vitamin C serum.
Bottom line – you can super effectively brighten skin by using skincare actives which tie-up that dude Tyrosinase – vitamin C is fab at this although be careful of the type you’re using. I’m here to help if you need me.
5. Brighten Skin by Using Radiation Protection
Aka sunscreen (!)
Our sun is amazing and also super scary all at the same time. It’s like sweet and sour. Jekyll and Hyde. Chocolate and vegetables 😉
First of all, know this – our sun is amazing and your skin needs it to make a life-giving antioxidant called vitamin D.
But – overdose on our wonderful sun aka give yourself radiation poisoning and your bright skin is quickly turning dull, tired and uneven.
I’m not dwelling here because I bet you’re already well aware of this how to brighten skin, science proven fact. Sunscreen is life.
Use it most days and make sure to use it when you’re outside around peak hours (10am to 3pm).
Bottom line – sunshine causes skin stress plus directly stimulates your skin’s pigmentation-making machine – prevent both by using an effective sunscreen regularly.
How quickly did your skin get dull? Do you see your skin getting dull at a certain time of year? Let me know in the comments below, oh and if you have a friend feeling not-so-happy with her skin at the moment, will you brighten her day with a shot of chocolate and vegetables and use that big green button to share this blog with her. You are the best my friend.
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist, skin health expert & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim’s to help you get healthier, happier skin you feel comfortable, confident and like the freakin’ awesomesauce you are in. Select the option which best describes your skin health here to see and hear the amazing transformations you could be getting.