How To Transform Dull, Tired-Looking Skin


Do you feel you have grey, dull or tired-looking skin? You are not alone. It’s one of the top complexion issues we encounter here at Cosmetics A La Carte.

In this article we explore the main causes of dullness, and our tried-and-tested solutions for a simple brightening skincare routine to rejuvenate your complexion immediately, and maintain it over time.

Get More Shut-Eye

It is well documented that stress increases the hormone cortisol, which negatively affects your skin’s ability to repair.

Moreover, a lack of sleep reduces the time your skin has to regenerate itself overnight.

So the first step to brighter skin, is rest, relaxation and a good night's sleep.

Quit The Habit

Among its other noted negative side effects, smoking also has detrimental effects on the collagen that contributes to skin’s radiance. Another reason to consider quitting.

Eat Your Vitamins

An unbalanced diet will also create problems for your skin. High fat diets promote oxidative stress and inflammatory responses, while high-sugar diets lead to the accumulation of advanced glycation end products, which affect protein function in the skin and accelerate skin ageing.

What's more, most of our vitamins are taken from food, so if you’re missing vitamins in your diet, your skin will lack the antioxidants it needs to resist free radical damage. Time to stock up on fruit and vegetables...

Use Vitamins In Your Skincare

Boost your levels of antioxidants, topically, by using antioxidant-rich skincare.

These extra antioxidants will help to scavenge some of the additional free radicals you can't control that come from the environment, such as exposure to UV or airborne pollutants

As such, they will prevent the free radicals from acting on your skin, and form an additional line of defence against external stressors.

Vitamin C is one of the most well-known active ingredients for neutralising free radicals and decreasing melanin in hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin C is the lead ingredient in our Superglow Serum, in the form of Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate. This converts into true Vitamin C - ascorbic acid - in the skin, and is both more stable, retaining its potency over time, and also better tolerated by the skin than some versions of Vitamin C commonly used in skincare.

As ever, we are passionate about gently effective skincare that works gradually, without shocking or upsetting the skin with ingredients that are too strong.

How To Use Superglow Serum

You should apply Superglow Serum daily at night to improve overall skin health and add hydration, tautness and glow. Apply a few drops to cleansed skin and massage in gently with fingertips.

Allow a few moments to sink in before applying your moisturiser. At night we recommend Hydrasmooth or Skin Comfort. By day we recommend Rose Dew Primer.

Drink More Water?

Many beauty commentators lay the blame for dullness at the door of dehydration in the body (as opposed to the skin) and extol the virtue of drinking lots of water for brighter, glowier skin.

Although this is a widespread mantra, we are sceptical of these claims and are concerned that there is still a lack of concrete scientific evidence to validate this argument.

So while drinking water certainly won’t be harmful, our advice is: drink when you are thirsty, don’t drink for your skin.

Exfoliate & Boost Skin Renewal

It’s a bit of an unnerving thought, but as our skin is constantly renewing itself from within, dead skin cells build up at the outermost layer of our skin, every day of our lives. When we don’t remove these by cleansing, they can make your skin overall look duller.

This problem is compounded as we age, because the enzyme that causes these cells to shed becomes less active, slowing down the natural rate of renewal.

Exfoliation is a word originally from Latin, meaning to strip all the leaves off a tree. In skincare, it refers generally to the process of removing dead skin cells, allowing newer and more perfect skin cells to be visible. It is, without a doubt, essential for combating dullness.

There are two main approaches. On the one hand there are physical exfoliators, which use particles or granules to physically rub off the dead skin cells.

On the other hand there are chemical exfoliators or peels which use acids (AHAs, BHAs, PHAs) of varying intensities to loosen the bonds between the dead skin cells and make them easier to remove.

Should I Use Acids?

There is a lot of buzz in the beauty industry about acids, and the benefits for enhancing your glow through exfoliation. While ingredients such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid may have a wonderful transformative effect in an occasional facial, at Cosmetics à la Carte we are not fans of using these multiple times a week, let alone every day.

Although very effective, they can upset the delicate balance of sensitive skin and cause skin to go into a kind of shock.

So, we always recommend to gently renew the skin, rather than try the “sledgehammer approach”.

The Gentle Approach: Rosewater Tonic

Rosewater Tonic is not an acid, not a peel, and not a scrub. It is a gentle, alcohol-free toner and rinse that derives its power from the fact its acidity is matched to our skin’s natural level. This means that it gently encourages the removal of dead skin cells and product residue, but at the same time supports your skin’s natural efforts to keep moisture in, keep harmful bacteria out, and enjoy optimum function.

In short, Rosewater Tonic brightens and renews your skin, while also ensuring it is calm, resilient and in its natural balance. It’s ideally suited for sensitive skin, and for normal skin to avoid the risk of sensitisation in the long run.

You’ll see a small benefit immediately after starting to use our toner and this will build over time, with regular use. Your skin will not experience any extremes, it will become gradually more balanced, more hydrated, and more radiant. In our experience this is true even for those with classically sensitive skin.

How To Use Rosewater Tonic

It should be used in the morning to refresh skin after sleep and remove the residue of your night-time skincare products, and in the evening as the last step in your cleansing routine. Our recommended Evening Ritual can be watched here.

Even if you don’t wear makeup or tinted moisturiser, you should still refresh and cleanse with Rosewater Tonic. The residue of your daily moisturiser or sunscreen, combined with pollution and the waste products your own skin produces every day, will be enough to begin to occlude your skin, and you will enjoy a brightness boost from ensuring they are swept away with Rosewater Tonic.

Rosewater Tonic will effectively remove light, non-waterproof makeup, but if you wear makeup every day, you should consider bringing Total Lift Off into your routine.

Like Rosewater Tonic, our rose cleanser Total Lift Off is pH balanced to your skin’s natural level. It will brighten and renew your skin, while keeping it calm and resilient, but it will also remove makeup effectively from face and lashes.

Our recommended ritual uses Total Lift Off to remove makeup, Creamy Deep Cleanser to cleanse and moisturise, and Rosewater Tonic to rebalance and hydrate.


As well as a build-up of dead skin cells, dullness is also more likely if your skin is dry, whether due to age, lifestyle or environmental exposure such as a cold or dry climate.

This is because dry skin is lacking in the lipids which keep skin smooth and more reflective to light.

By replenishing those lipids with a moisturiser, you get an immediate radiance boost.

The Moisturiser With More: Complexion Enhancer

Give lacklustre-looking skin an instant brightness boost with Complexion Enhancer.

As well as being infused with multi-tasking and light, non-comedogenic moisturisers including Hyaluronic Acid, Complexion Enhancer contains a subtle, carefully calibrated mix of light-loving pigments that amp up your glow, without looking or feeling like makeup.

The end result is delightfully dewy, glowy skin with a fresh sheen, that looks just like you’ve just had a facial.

How To Use Complexion Enhancer

Apply Complexion Enhancer before makeup as a moisturiser and primer, then enjoy the inner radiance that shines through, all day long.

Alternatively, blend a dewy drop of Complexion Enhancer mixed in the palm of your hand with your usual foundation or tinted moisturiser, to add natural luminosity and hydration. This also has the benefit of sheering out your base, enabling you to turn any base into a tinted moisturiser.