9 Ways to Revive Dull Skin and Hair
Winter can rob anyone of their radiance but a few simple changes in your routine—from how you cleanse your face to the type of pillowcase you sleep on—can give you a noticeable glow that lasts.
But first exfoliate
"In the cold months we focus so much on keeping skin hydrated that we often forget the importance of exfoliating regularly," says Jordana Mattioli, a medical esthetician with CompleteSkinMD in New York City, who considers this act the "first and most important step" in brightening dull skin. "Getting off dead skin will instantly make your complexion smoother and refreshed—plus it will help the ingredients in your other products work better since they won't have that barrier to get through," she says. Rather than rely on grainy scrubs that can aggravate sensitive types, try leave-on toners with a mild (less than 5%) alpha or beta hydroxy acid, like glycolic acid or salicylic acid, a few times a week.
Skip your morning cleanse if your skin is super dry
Maintaining dewy skin is all about preserving your Natural Moisturizer Factor (NMF)—or mix of amino acids, urea and other compounds naturally found in your skin, says Los Angeles dermatologist Kelly Bickle, M.D. At around age 50, the NMF starts to diminish along with levels of oils and lipids, all of which can dry out your complexion and leave it looking lackluster. In this case, Dr. Bickle recommends switching to a gentle soap-free cleanser (which won't strip your NMF) and limit face washing to just once a day at night—in the morning you can simply rinse with cold water since your skin hasn't been exposed to any debris or pollution.
Look for glow-boosting ingredients
After cleansing, reach for serums and moisturizers with dullness-fighting ingredients: vitamin C reduces dark spots while niacinamide and peptides help brighten your complexion, says Mattioli. Or try a mist layered underneath: "Mists, like spraying water, can be very helpful in moisturizing skin," says Dr. Bickle. "It is basically the same as not completely drying off after a bath or shower and then applying moisturizer—it traps in extra moisture, which is good for dry, dull skin."
Use the right kind of makeup
If you're already applying makeup only where you need it, instead of all over—after all, a thick layer of anything will cause dulling buildup on your skin—don't forget to consider the specific formula of your products, says Mattioli. "Oily skin types will do best with powders and mineral makeup, whereas drier skin will love tinted moisturizers and creamy foundations."
Perk up your skin with a DIY facial
"A super easy way to revive dull skin is to give yourself a five-minute face massage with an oil cleanser, which increases circulation and blood flow," says Mattioli. Her technique: "Use your fingers to move in sweeping motions upward along your jaw, cheeks and forehead. I like to work from the center of the face outward: under the lips to the ear, then up the cheeks to the temples, then from the center of the forehead to each side. Lastly, focus around the eyes drawing circular motions around them with the pads of your fingers."
Give damp hair special attention
"Blotting the hair is far better than rubbing it vigorously to remove excess water post-shower," says British colorist Louise Galvin. "Rubbing will rough up the cuticle, leaving hair less smooth so it can't reflect light well." Another pro tip: air-dry your hair for 15 minutes before blow-drying—this way your hair will be partially dry so you can spend less time under the hot heat (and thereby save some of your natural shine).
Don't banish shine along with grays
To cover grays, Galvin suggests skipping all-over tint and instead only targeting individual strands, which will blend in for a more natural look. "If the percentage of gray is too great and a full tint is required, ask your colorist not to take the tint all the way to the ends." This helps diffuse the demarcation between color and regrowth, she says.
Highlight the kinder, gentler way
Bleach and dyes can leave your hair looking dull and lifeless, says Galvin. Instead, consider brightening up with with a fresh alternative: all-over gloss. Galvin says such treatments don't deposit color or lift your base but instead seal in shine with hydrating ingredients that enhance your natural base color.
Sleep your way to glossy hair
Waking up with sleek and shiny hair may be as simple as changing your pillowcase. Galvin says using a silk pillowcase could help to protect your hair, which she's seen among her clients who sleep on the soft, smooth fabric. "Silk reduces friction and moisture loss," she says.