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How to Brighten a Dull Complexion

Complexion-Brightening Procedures

If you still feel dull and ashen, it may be time to see the dermatologist. Doctors may suggest a chemical peel, dermabrasion or laser surgery. To make an informed decision, you should understand what happens during each of these skin resurfacing procedures.

Chemical peels are exactly what they sound like -- a doctor applies one or more chemicals to your skin to peel back a dead or dying layer and reveal the brighter layer underneath. Chemical peels may also help reduce lines and acne scars and even skin pigment. They do carry risks, however. Any chemical can be harmful, and the substances used in chemical peels can cause blistering and scarring or change your skin tone. If you decide that you want to try chemical peels, be sure to have a doctor perform the procedure. Even though some states permit others to apply chemical peels, doctors are best equipped to deal with any complications and give you appropriate information [source: Ohio State University Medical Center].

Dermabrasion and dermaplaning surgically scrape the skin, and doctors usually reserve them for deeper skin problems, such as acne scarring. If you simply want to perk up your skin, dermabrasion and dermaplaning may not be the best solution for you.

Microdermabrasion is likely a better choice for skin brightening. Instead of scraping the skin, surgeons use a tool that sprays tiny abrasive crystals over the skin; a vacuum removes the dead layer of skin. You will not notice a difference immediately with microdermabrasion. Swelling and crusty skin is normal, followed by several weeks of redness.

Laser surgery goes deeper than microdermabrasion, and doctors mainly reserve the procedure for acne scarring and sun-damaged skin with wrinkles. Laser surgery uses light waves to vaporize the top layer of skin, exposing new skin beneath. As with any surgery, there are preoperative and postoperative steps you have to take, and you should discuss potential risks with a qualified doctor before making a decision [source: American Academy of Facial, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery].

If you can't or don't want to change your skin, then you have one more option. On the next page, learn some easy makeup tips to hide dull skin.