Dullness is a broad term used to describe skin that has lost some radiance and appears pale.
The tone of our skin is due to a few different factors:
1. Circulation and skin tone
Ever noticed how your skin glows after exercise? One third of the total blood circulated in our body passes through our skin. When we exercise, circulation improves, which increases the blood flowing through blood vessels close to our skin’s surface.
Poor circulation of blood to the skin directly affects skin tone, as can be seen in a number of diseases. When our bodies are sick, blood rushes to the site of distress, reducing the circulation to our skin. This leads to a pale, discoloured and, in extreme cases, bluish tinge to the skin.
Poor circulation also affects our skin tone by reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach our skin. Over time, this makes it difficult for our skin cells to produce important proteins, such as collagen, which give our skin strength, elasticity and a healthy glow.
2. Pigments and our skin tone
Our skin has a number of natural pigments present in it. Melanin is one such pigment which is responsible for the colour of our skin. Melanin’s primary function is to prevent the breakdown of folic acid in our body, which is caused by UV radiation from the sun. Levels of melanin increase when we spend time in the sun, leading to a sun tan.
Carotenoids are another family of pigments which include beta carotene, the pigment that makes carrots orange, and lycopene, the pigment that makes tomatoes red. Carotenoids tend to deposit in our skin and protect against damage caused by the sun and environmental factors. Incidentally, a very interesting study found that we perceive people with higher levels of carotenoids in their skin as healthier and more attractive!
So what can you do to keep your skin tone perfect?
1. Exercise: Exercise improves circulation and keeps you healthy. An improved skin tone is just one of the many benefits of including regular exercise in your routine.
2. Load up on fruits and vegetables: Carotenoids such as beta carotene and lycopene are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. If it’s yellow, orange, red or pink, chances are it’s loaded with carotenoids!
3. Get out in the sun: We find perfectly tanned skin so attractive that a whole range of ‘bronzing’ products are out there for people who can’t spend time in the sun! A few hours of sun exposure can do wonders for your skin and also make sure that you get a dose of Vitamin D3 (which, coincidentally, also helps improve circulation!). Just remember to apply a sunscreen that protects against both the UV-A and UV-B rays of the sun before you do!