How to Brighten Your Skin

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When you see healthy-looking skin, you know it—that smooth texture, that even tone, and, of course, that youthful-looking glow. Want to add a more youthful shine to your own skin? With a gentle face exfoliator that contains the right ingredients and using the right skin care routine for your skin type, you can turn the dial up on your own inner glow.

Keep reading as we explore dull skin causes, the best (and worst) ingredients for skin, brightness-inducing skin care routines, and additional lifestyle tips for brightening dull skin from inside-out to achieve healthy-looking skin.

Why Your Skin Isn’t Glowing

Before jumping into a glow-ified routine, it helps to answer one question first—what is creating dullness in my skin?

When talking about skin, dullness is the antithesis to brightness. For the most part, it traces back to dehydrationand potentially damage. If your skin feels parched or unprotected, you can expect a dull texture.

Not sure what’s leaving your skin matte? Here are some common reasons behind a low glow:

  • Lack of moisture – Moisturizing is a crucial step for bright and healthy skin. Without proper moisture, dead skin cells can accumulate on your skin and block that youthful-looking shine. Whether you have more blemish-prone or dry skin, a lack of moisture could create dullness.

  • Sun damage – What doesn’t sun damage make worse? Without SPF protection, sun rays can create free radicals.1 Over time, this can accelerate visible signs of aging, like wrinkles and dullness.

  • Aging – There’s no way around it—as you age, your skin’s natural oil production slows.2 The result? Increased dead skin buildup and a loss of that youthful-looking glow.

  • Damaged skin barrier – The stratum corneum (the outer layer of your skin) protects skin health by sealing in moisture and blocking out environmental pollution.3 However, long-term damage can affect your skin barrier. As a result, you might notice increased flaking, blemishes, and even a dull appearance.

No matter the culprit behind your dullness, it’s important to remember one thing—it can be treated. Whether you’ve spent months under the sun or attempted a harsh exfoliation routine, your skin can still achieve a brighter-looking appearance.

The Best (and Worst) Ingredients for Brightening Skin

Skincare is like a recipe—it’s all about choosing ingredients that can deliver your desired results. For bright, radiant-looking skin, there are a few standout ingredients to incorporate into your skincare routine, as well as a few to avoid.

To build an effective pro-glow routine, start with this ingredient guide to help brighten dull skin.

Ingredients to Use

Most brightening skincare ingredients accomplish one of these goals—moisturizing, gentle exfoliation fighting free radicals. Consider these hydrating or renewing ingredients:

  • Vitamin C – A skin-brightening powerhouse, vitamin C helps with skin moisture, even tone and more.4 Even better? It’s an ingredient found naturally in the body, so it’s perfect for sensitive skin. Make sure to choose a quality vitamin C formula, like our Glow and Protect Serum.

  • Chemical exfoliants – Dead skin buildup may block your glow, but over-exfoliating can actually decrease brightness. Harsh physical exfoliants can sometimes strip away natural oils and affect your skin barrier, leaving skin dull. Instead, opt for lightweight chemical exfoliants, like an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid.5 This natural family of acids includes the most gentle lactic and mandelic acids to gently brighten the look of skin.

  • Sunscreen/SPF– If you don’t already apply sunscreen, start now. SPF helps block the sun’s damaging effects, from preventing wrinkle formation to reducing dry texture. For at least five hours of protection, dermatologists recommend a facial sunscreen with at least 30 SPF.6

  • Hyaluronic acid – Found in the epidermis, hyaluronic acid moisturizes your skin by drawing in water. This hydrating power can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and support brighter-looking skin.7

Ingredients to Avoid

Because dull skin often indicates excess dryness or damage, it’s best to leave any drying or harsh products on the shelf when assembling your skincare toolkit. Maximize your routine by avoiding these dulling ingredients:8

  • Alcohols
  • High concentration of Salicylic acid
  • Strong Physical exfoliants
  • Parabens

Your Skin Brightening Routine

From improving a brighter look to fighting blemishes, every skincare target requires time and dedication—and that means adopting a routine.

Skin brightening routines follow the same steps as most routines, with a few hydrating twists. If you’re curious how to get brighten skin texture, start with this daily routine:

  • Cleanse – Even when dry, we would suggest incorporating a daily cleanse. A gentle cleanser can help wash away dirt and pollutants. The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends cleansing with tepid water (rather than hot water) and drying with a microfiber cloth (not a towel).9 That way, you can prevent excess dryness after cleansing.

  • Treat – Once cleansed and exfoliated, your skin is ready to absorb nourishing ingredients. This is the time for serums, toners, or essences that contain those skin brightening ingredients. If retinoids are part of your routine, they would also fit here.

  • Moisturize – Repel dullness with a quality moisturizer. Whether you have dry or oily skin, moisturizing your skin is an important part of one’s skincare routine to lock in moisture.

  • Protect – In the morning, your final brightening skincare step should be a protective facial sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend a formula with at least 30 SPF, broad-spectrum coverage.6

Brighten Your Look with REN

Ultimately, bright skin is all about nourishment. By implementing the best moisturizing routine, you can help transform your skin from looking dull to looking luminous.

Not sure where to begin? Explore our face exfoliator collection for a rejuvenating kickstart. From vitamin C to lactic acid, each ingredient gently exfoliates and moisturizes to produce a healthy-looking glow.

About the Author

Camille Poggi is a doctor in Pharmacy (PharmD.) and is passionate about skincare and how the skin works in general. She specializes in the cosmetic industry and worked for renowned companies in France like L’Oréal and Chanel before moving to London. After being a training manager for 4 years, Camille is at ease with explaining how products work in the skin and how to adapt her speech according to the audience.

She joined REN in January 2020 as International Training Manager and moved to the Research & Development team earlier this year to be the new Scientific Education Manager. A tailored-made role where she assesses and leads all technical communication and ensures scientific compliance is always met. She’s also involved in new product development from the earliest stages. Finding a way to create sustainable skincare products and making sure the message is properly delivered and understood is definitely a big challenge but also her favorite part working for REN.


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  2. Medline Plus. Aging changes in skin.
  3. Healthline. Skin Barrier Function and How to Repair and Care for It.
  4. Healthline. 11 Vitamin C Serum Benefits, How to Use, and More.
  5. NBC News. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) 101: A dermatologists' guide in 2020.
  6. American Academy of Dermatologists. Sunscreen FAQs.
  7. NCBI. Efficacy of a New Topical Nano-hyaluronic Acid in Humans.
  8. Vogue. Have dry skin? These are the 4 ingredients to avoid in your makeup products | Vogue India.
  9. American Academy of Dermatologists. Face washing 101.
  10. Allure. Is Your Diet Making Your Skin Dull?
  11. Everyday Health. Chemical vs. Mineral Sunscreen: What's the Difference?
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  14. Good to Know. Effects of alcohol on skin and how to repair the damage.
  15. NCBI. Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin Aging.
  16. WebMD. Skin Care: How to Choose a Moisturizer.
  17. Women's Health Magazine. Dull Skin: 7 Causes And Solutions For Getting Your Glow Back.