Are you finding that your formerly radiant complexion is lacking a healthy glow? It is normal to see your skin tone looking more “dull” over time, but dull skin can be very easily treated with several topical treatments—from skincare products to laser skin resurfacing—that are sure to give you results. Below, we dive into the potential causes, as well as the treatments and lifestyle interventions that can help restore your natural radiance.

Causes of dull skin tone

Dull skin is often the result of an accumulation of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, which can cause your complexion to appear less vibrant. You may have an accumulation of dead skin cells if you are not properly cleansing your skin, i.e. sleeping in your makeup. You could also see a buildup of your skin’s natural oils if you are not exfoliating your skin: while harsh “scrubs” are ill-advised, there are gentle cleansers that employ chemical exfoliation (using glycolic acid, for instance) and can help promote healthy cell turnover. If you use retinol products, these work similarly.

If you are suffering from acne breakouts, this is also exacerbated by poor cell turnover and clogged pores. Other helpful at-home skin care products include a moisturizer and antioxidant serums to reduce environmental damage.

Your skin’s glow can also be influenced by factors such as environmental damage, aging, and stress. You can mitigate some of this by protecting your skin from the sun with daily application of sunscreen and wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you are outdoors; managing your stress; eating a nutritious, healthy diet; and staying hydrated.

Shannon O’Brien, Medical Esthetician

Medical esthetician Shannon O’Brien has nearly 20 years of experience offering luxury medical spa services. Whether you need a relaxing facial or expert help with skin concerns like acne or wrinkles, she is here to help you achieve your best skin ever with treatments like chemical peels, microneedling, and laser skin resurfacing.

Shannon O’Brien, Medical Esthetician

Medical spa treatments for dull skin

While healthy habits are certainly beneficial, many of our patients choose to use medical-grade “medspa” treatments to improve their skin’s tone and texture. And while all of these treatments help to brighten a dull-looking skin tone, they also help with anti-aging concerns—like fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. Some even double as acne treatment, so it’s a good idea to talk with a medical provider about treatment options that can help meet all of your beauty goals:

Chemical peel

A chemical peel uses a solution of hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, to stimulate the shedding of the surface skin layers and reveal fresher, younger-looking skin underneath. This highly precise chemical exfoliation improves signs of aging and results in a brighter, healthier complexion, especially with repeat treatments. 

Laser skin resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing can address a dull complexion by boosting collagen production and removing the damaged outer layers of skin. This treatment can also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots, so laser resurfacing is ideal for patients who want to see more comprehensive results and are prepared for a little social down time as redness or peeling (laser intensity varies—we’ll help choose the right one for you) subside after treatment.

Microneedling or RF microneedling

Similar to laser skin resurfacing, microneedling (or collagen induction therapy) promotes fresh collagen production in the skin. During a Bryn Mawr microneedling treatment, very fine sterile needles are applied to the surface of the skin, where they create micro-punctures to stimulate a healing response in the skin. Morpheus8 RF microneedling combines this manual collagen induction therapy with radiofrequency (RF) energy, which heats the dermis layer of the skin for added skin tightening benefits.


A Hydrafacial is a specialized treatment that cleanses, exfoliates, and infuses the skin with a customized serum to help achieve your goals for your skin. It is gentle and suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Using a relaxing water vortex, Hydrafacial not only clears your pores gently, but it also promotes blood flow so that you will see an almost instantaneous brightness and glow after treatment, making it perfect to prepare your “glow” for a big event.

Before & After Gallery

IPL & Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing

IPL and Fractional Laser before photo with sun spots, wrinkles, and dull skin tone
IPL and Fractional Laser "after" photo showing diminished dark spots, glowing skin tone, and smoother skin texture in the neck

Dr. Claytor’s patient is shown before and after a single treatment with “3 for me,” a combination of IPL and laser skin resurfacing.

*Individual results may vary.

Intense pulsed light (IPL)

For patients whose main concern is discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and other irregularities is skin tone, intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy uses light pulses to target and remove unwanted pigmentation, thus reducing dullness, evening out skin tone, and promoting radiance.

Combined treatments

Sometimes, to achieve the best results, a combination of treatments can be especially beneficial. This could include combining a laser treatment with a good skincare routine or using a chemical peel in conjunction with IPL. For this reason, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our knowledgeable aesthetic team—we are here to help you with personalized advice that works for your unique concerns and your lifestyle. We also offer Botox-type injectables, dermal fillers, and surgical procedures to offer patients a full range of options for their cosmetic concerns.

Choosing a provider

Medical skin treatments are not simply the same facials you get from a day spa; they use medical technology and potent active ingredients, making it imperative to choose a provider you can trust.

For the best in cosmetic care, look for a medical spa or office led by a board-certified plastic surgeon. At Claytor Noone Plastic Surgery, our team is here to help you find the treatments that work for your skin! Call (610) 527-4833 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and learn more about your treatment options.

Portrait of Dr. Claytor smiling

Medically reviewed by Dr. R. Brannon Claytor — Updated on May 22, 2024