Glow Academy: Achieve a brighter, more glowing complexion

Each of us has our own unique skin goals, the checkpoints on our ‘ultimate glow’ mood boards that we’re working towards. With such a diverse range of what we all want from our skin, no two people’s aims are necessarily going to be the same. We know that often deciding where to work backwards from when you’ve got the end of the journey in sight can be an overwhelming prospect. To help out, we thought we’d pull together some of the goals we hear most commonly from our Tropic community and guide you through those first steps on the journey to your dazzling destination. Welcome to Glow Academy...

Want to achieve a brighter, more glowing complexion? You may have some questions about DULLNESS. And no, we don’t mean skin that decides it doesn’t want to dance at the party. 


When it comes to skin, there’s no glow guarantee. Some days, whatever’s giving us that elusive ‘lit from within’ brightness just seems to run out of radiance, leaving our complexions looking a little...well, dull. This switch from luminous to lacklustre generally presents as skin which appears tired and dry with a grey pallor to it, and often feels rough to the touch.


Our skin cells are constantly having a ‘new year, new me’ moment – actually, make that millions of those moments a day. Every day, we shed countless dead skin cells as part of our body’s cycle of renewal, but as we go out with the old, sometimes the new doesn’t exactly reveal itself straight away. It takes some extra exfoliating TLC to remove the cells we’ve shed from our skin, and if we haven’t done that, then they’ll start to layer on top of each other. The result? The top layer of the epidermis that we’re seeing is actually a build up of detritus blocking light from bouncing off our skin and having a dulling effect. This is also seen more frequently as skin matures and its cell renewal rates start to decrease.

Pollution manages to dull most things it comes into contact with – the air, water – and your skin is no exception. The combination of exposure to sun and polluted air’s mix of dirt and sulfur dioxide produces free radicals which damage your skin cells, causing collagen loss and excessive pigmentation. In non-science speak, they essentially open the door to uneven skin tone and wrinkles.

Turns out it’s also not only your mind that feels pretty dull when you’ve lost out on a good forty winks. That precious nap time is also the green light for your body to restore itself – it’s when our skin cells go through regeneration and melatonin levels increase to repair tissue. If you’re crashing out at 4am and grabbing four hours of sleep, you’ll soon see the effects of your body clock being thrown off balance. 

Restless nights come around as the unwelcome plus-one of periods of stress, which are also a dull skinfluence. When we’re stressed, our fight and flight response diverts blood to our internal organs, leaving our faces with a drained, dingy air. Cortisol production also increases, impacting skin repair, and if we’re sleeping less, the natural time for the levels of this stress hormone to dissipate is snatched away. It’s one big feedback loop that inevitably keeps skin in the ‘dull-drums’. 


  • We’re shouting it from the rooftops with this one – exfoliate to your heart’s content! OK, maybe that’s a bit OTT (as exfoliation is a powerful process, you should only do it a couple of times a week) but a gentle exfoliant is a must-have if you want to ditch dullness and give your skin the chance to up its glow factor. By clearing away your skin’s dead cells, it gives the fresh skin below its chance to shine, allowing all the rest of your skincare easier access to it.
  • Dull skin is often your body’s way of saying ‘I’m thirsty’, so give it what it needs with eight glasses of the good stuff every day. Boosting your body’s water levels is a quick way to counter the dehydration that can leave skin looking deflated.
  • When skin’s natural moisture barrier is depleted, your complexion starts to lose its plumpness and dry out, with dullness only a few steps behind. Treat skin to moisturiser twice a day to support and replenish your barrier with all the nourishment it needs. Keep your eyes peeled for one formulated with hyaluronic acid, as this hydrating humectant is the real life of the party, drawing water to itself from the environment to keep skin firm, supple and bright.
  • Whether you’re in the middle of the Sahara or wandering the Nordic fjords, SPF is a skincare non-negotiable 365 days a year. Aim not to go anywhere without a trusty broad-spectrum cream to keep you protected against UVA and UVB rays alike. It’ll help ward off excessive hyperpigmentation or skin damage that could lead to uneven dullness.
  • Alas, coming into contact with pollution is literally as simple as breathing – it’s in the air as soon as we walk out of the door. To say ‘so long’ to pesky free radicals and clear your skin of the day’s grime, reach for a creamy cleanser as part of your evening ritual. When your head hits the pillow, you can rest easy knowing any dirt and buildup has been melted away and it won’t dull your morning glow.
  • Stay true to the old adage; ‘why not kill two influences on dull skin with one jog?’. It goes something like that, right? Not only does exercise help remove the toxins we face from pollution by increasing blood flow and improving circulation, it encourages the body to release more endorphins, our natural mood-boosters. Stress, be gone! So whether it’s shimmying around the house to a bit of Chaka Khan or training for a 5K that gets you going, work that dullness out. 



Look out for skincare which features..

Bakuchiol – Retinol is the skincare superstar on everyone’s lips, but it’s also known for its irritating side effects. This plant-based bio-retinol is far less intense, helping to exfoliate the top layers of dead skin cells by increasing cell turnover while also stimulating collagen growth to keep the epidermis strong. 

Vitamin C – An antioxidant serum is the way to go if you want to add an extra brightening touch to your daily routine, and vitamin C is an antioxidant extraordinaire, helping to boost collagen growth, block pigment production and protect against free radicals.

Niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) – Transformative, glowing results await with this form of vitamin B, a pro at reducing the signs of hyperpigmentation and evening out skin tone. 


Does makeup affect dullness? Makeup can be a great short-term way of adding a pop of colour to dull skin, but there are also some things to watch out for. Always reach for a cleanser 

at the end of the night and head to the Land of Nod bare-faced, as leaving on a layer of makeup while you sleep only serves to block pores and impact skin’s overnight restorative processes. 

Having that all-over matte look can be a real confidence booster, but when it’s overdone, it can actually end up blocking your brightness. Instead of piling on too many layers of a heavy foundation, look for one that uses light-reflecting pigments to ensure it’s catching those rays and lighting skin up. 

Can changing my diet have an impact on dull skin? We’ve sung the praises of antioxidants for dullness, but you don’t have to rely on skincare alone to feel their benefits! Top up your meals with a brightening boost of foods like kale, red cabbage, berries and red beans. Fatty acids, essential for strengthening the skin, can also be found when you snack on avocado and walnuts.

And as for the shopping to keep firmly out of the fridge? The usual suspects; food that’s processed, high in salt or sugar.

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