Apparently, all it takes to have beautiful, healthy, glowing skin is eight hours sleep each night, a well-balanced diet, lots of water and inner calmness. Right!

So, for those of us who live in the real world and can’t manage all those things each day and are plagued with dull skin, we can use a few great quality products prescribed for our individual skin issues and the knowledge of how to use them to achieve that lit from within glow that we all seek. Aestheticians can develop a simple at-home regimen to accompany and maximize your regular salon visits.

It’s important to identify the primary causes dimming your glow and address them.

Dead skin cells
Take a look in your mirror and REALLY look. The dullness you may see is from dead skin cells. We shed millions of skin cells each day and those dry little particles make your skin look dull. This is not an insurmountable problem. You must just do something to actively remove the ones that don’t slough off naturally. That dead-cell buildup is a lot like dust in your home. Until you wipe it clean, it’s the dull layer that keeps your skin from reflecting light.

Gentle exfoliation once or twice a week gets rid of the “dust”. Scrubs with sugar or jojoba beads are mild enough for even sensitive skin. Avoid those grainy scrubs with pulverized nut shells and fruit pits. The rough edges on the particles can damage your skin. Your aesthetician can also provide a microdermabrasion treatment to remove those dead skin cells, followed by an enzyme to continue the exfoliation, then serums and moisturizers to strengthen and hydrate your skin.

Chemical peels use alpha and beta hydroxy acids and enzymes to remove dead skin cells and should be performed by a pro. This is not a treatment for you to try at home. Chemical peels are classified as progressive – the most gentle and require little or no down time, mid-depth peels go deeper, cause redness and peeling similar to a sun burn. You should plan on a few days of down time with a mid-depth peel. A deep peel should only be performed by a doctor and requires a longer recovery time. All chemical peels require a gentle home regimen that both protects and helps heal the skin and maximizes the results from your treatment.

Yes, our very air can be a problem for our skin. Polluted air contains a lot of irritants that create free radicals on our skin. Free radicals damage collagen (wrinkles!) and can increase pigment production (dark spots!) over time.  When your skin’s tone and texture are uneven, it looks dull.

Again, a problem, but not a terrible one and one that is easily handled. Cleanse your face at night — every night. It is the most important time to cleanse. The grime that attaches to our skin during a normal day must be removed (along with sunscreen and make-up) to avoid damage to your skin while you sleep. When we sleep, our skin can rejuvenate. Pollution causes inflammation and can disrupt the skin’s protective barrier. It’s important to choose a gentle cleanser that doesn’t dry out your skin. After cleansing, feed your skin with serums and moisturizer.

Facial wipes aren’t thorough enough to remove pollution, but if you’re too tired to wash your face, they’re better than nothing. Your morning routine should include serums that contain antioxidants to minimize potential damage from pollution’s free radicals.

Pressures at work, conflict, lack of sleep, all things that can create stress also create a tired, dull looking complexion. Regardless of the cause, the result is the same. Stress increases cortisol levels causing blood flow to directed to your vital organs, not your face, leading to skin looking sallow.

Our response to being told to relax or get more rest tends to cause more stress, therefore, more dullness. Facial massage is a great way to increase circulation which causes your skin to glow, at least temporarily. Follow that with an application of a moisturizer to add radiance and to plump the skin.

Your skin needs water! Remember the advice to drink your eight glasses of water each day? Without moisture from our intake of water, skin looks dull. Loss of hydration from below the skin’s surface — in the dermis and the lower levels of the epidermis — causes a decrease in the thickness of the skin, making wrinkles.

Add nature’s water magnet to your skin care regimen – hyaluronic acid serum. Hyaluronic acid actually draws water from the air driving moisture deep into skin, next, layer on a moisturizer containing emollients. They create a thin, transparent film over the skin’s surface helping to seal in moisture and will help skin cells lay flat reflecting light better.

Sun damage is also a main cause of weakened collagen — and the slack, dull skin that comes with it. And the damage isn’t just to your face. Hyperpigmentation over the whole body can result in mottled looking skin. No one wants spots like a leopard, so protect yourself. Your best protection is sunscreen. Use it liberally and often.

The FDA suggests that sunscreen should be reapplied every 90 minutes when skin is exposed to sun. The very best protection is derived from a mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

There are products that lighten those dark spots, but no treatment will be effective as long as your skin is still exposed to UVA & UVB rays from the sun. The nightly use a product containing retinol helps minimize the damage done. Retinol also helps protect your collagen from breaking down. Adding a serum or a cream with a brightening ingredient, like daisy flower extract, kojic acid or arbutin will help to fade dark spots. Avoid prolonged use of products with hydroquinone, now thought to be a possible carcinogen.