Dull, tired and lifeless skin are pretty common concerns that a lot of women face. While these can be treated quite easily, the real problem starts when these concerns are accompanied by a yellow and unhealthy-looking complexion. Simply put, sallow skin is a major reflection of your internal health, which results in your skin looking dull and lacklustre.

Even though this sounds pretty scary, there is really no need to panic. By making some simple changes to your skincare routine and lifestyle habits, sallow skin can be easily dealt with. To give you a better idea of what exactly sallow skin is, along with tips to regain your normal healthy complexion, we spoke to dermatologist and skin expert, Dr. Mrunal Shah Modi.


What exactly is sallow skin?

What exactly is sallow skin?

“Sallow usually means unhealthy. So, when someone has sallow skin, it means that the skin is not in its usual complexion. Everyone is born with certain skin colour, but when your skin loses its natural colour and lustre due to certain unhealthy external and lifestyle factors, you are known to have sallow skin. This generally leads to the person’s skin looking paler, yellower or darker than usual”, explains Dr. Modi.

As we age, problems such as dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles are pretty common, but sallow skin is not one of them. Therefore, sallow skin isn’t a natural or internal problem at all. When talking about sallow skin, we are only talking about the external skin with reference to how healthy it looks, your overall complexion and skin tone.


Causes of sallow skin

Causes of sallow skin

1. Anemia


Usually, there are a lot of causes as to you why your skin looks that way but the most common reason is anemia or low haemoglobin levels. When the red blood cells in your body stop making enough oxygen, you start to feel a lot more tired. Since your skin also doesn’t get enough oxygen, it starts to look really pale and sallow over time.

2. Vitamin deficiency

Vitamin deficiency

Another major reason for sallow skin, according to Dr. Modi, is being deficient in important vitamins such as vitamin D3, B12 and calcium. If the levels of these vitamins in your body are very low, then it ends up affecting your skin and making it look pale. This gives you a very tired look and eventually makes your skin look sallow.

3. Smoking


Smoking causes vasoconstriction, meaning the capillaries that carry blood to the different parts and organs of your body are constricted due to nicotine. Because your skin is not getting enough blood supply and oxygen, it starts to look dull. Additionally, due to the lack of blood supply, your skin also does not get a lot of the vital nutrients that are otherwise delivered to the skin, leaving it looking dull and sallow.

4. Dehydration


Not drinking enough water is another major cause of sallow skin. When you skimp on drinking the right amount of water, the water content in your body is reduced, which eventually dries out your skin. And when your skin starts to look overly dry and dehydrated, it eventually loses colour and looks sallow. Ensure that you drink at least eight to ten tall glasses of water every single day. This will not only prevent sallow skin, but will prevent other problems like breakouts, dryness, etc.

5. Stress


We all know how constant stress leads to hormonal imbalance and ends up causing acne. But did you know that stress is also one of the major reasons for sallow skin? Stress releases cortisol, which sends your body into flight or fight mode. In this mode, your body stops sending essential nutrients to your skin and hair, thereby making your skin look sallow. Indulge in some form of stress-relieving activity such as yoga, meditation, painting, etc. Just being active and exercising for about 30 minutes everyday keeps stress at bay and has a major positive impact on your skin.

6. Wrong skincare products

Wrong skincare products

Using wrong products as well as having an unhealthy and irregular skincare routine can leave your skin looking dull, lacklustre and unattractive. This happens because the wrong skincare products end up irritating and drying out your skin, leading to loss of water, thereby making your skin look dull, tired and sallow. Always pick skincare products that are specifically meant for your skin type. For example, if you have oily skin, look for non-comedogenic products in a gel texture as they are very lightweight and do not clog your pores.


Skincare routine for sallow skin

Skincare routine for sallow skin

Step 01: Always start with using a good, pH-balancing cleanser that is specifically formulated for your skin type and use it about two to three times a day.

Step 02: Always follow up your cleanser with a moisturiser without which your skin can lose its moisture and start to look very dull. It can also start to flake. You need to moisturise if you have oily skin. Instead of picking a heavy moisturiser, opt for something lightweight as it won’t clog pores and won’t feel oily and greasy.

Step 03: Exfoliate your skin at least once a week or once in 10 days. Exfoliation helps in eliminating dead skin cells, refreshes your skin and makes it look healthy, thereby preventing sallow skin.

Step 04: Always use sunscreen without fail even if you are indoors. Sunscreens protect your skin against UV rays that are emitted from your tubelights, mobile and laptop screens, windows, etc. Choosing the right kind of sunscreen according to your skin type will make a huge difference.

Additionally, if you are someone who wears makeup regularly, ensure that you invest in quality products.


FAQs about sallow skin

FAQs about sallow skin

Q. When should one see a doctor?

A. While sallow skin may not sound like a really major problem, if left unattended, it can cause permanent damage to your skin. Therefore, sometimes it may be important to visit a doctor for sallow skin. “If sallow skin is accompanied with dizziness and exhaustion, then one must definitely see a doctor at the earliest. The doctor may investigate with a few blood tests to check your hemoglobin and vitamin levels to see what exactly is wrong with you. Additionally, if your eyes and tongue start to look pale, or you notice that your lips are drying, then this is when you need to visit a doctor for sure. Your skin is a reflection of your inner health and therefore it is extremely important to see your doctor if you notice any of the above symptoms along with pale skin.”

Q. How can one heal sallow skin naturally?

A. Sleep well, Exercise and avoid stress, take care of your diet, Stop smoking, Use a good cleanser, moisturiser, exfoliator and sunscreen, drink lots of water, coconut water or juices.