Sallow Skin Complexion: What Is It & What To Do About It

We all want skin that’s glowing, bright, and naturally even in complexion. At times—especially during winter months—our skin may look dull and lackluster. If you’ve noticed a yellow tint to your skin, you think that it’s paler than normal, or that you’ve lost a bit of your color, you may be experiencing sallow skin. 

Nobody looks forward to sallow skin, but luckily, there are many ways you can return the brightness and glow to your complexion. It may come as a surprise, but sallow skin is not a normal part of getting older like wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots are. 

There are other factors responsible for sallow skin. This guide explores the causes behind sallow skin and how using the right skincare and beauty tools can help. 

What Causes Sallow Skin? 

Here are some of the most common causes of sallow skin.

Not Drinking Enough Water 

Skin is the largest organ in the body, so it needs quite a lot of care to flourish. What we put into our bodies is just as important as what we put on our skin, so eating a rich diet of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and drinking adequate water is vital for healthy-looking skin. 

It can be easy to forget to drink water throughout the day. Here are some tips to get the recommended 11.5 cups for women and 15.5 cups for men. Start by bringing a water bottle with you to work, the gym, or even while you run errands. Eat foods rich in water too, like fruit and veggies! You can infuse your water with fresh fruit slices such as orange, strawberry or lemon for a refreshing twist. 

Tobacco Intake 

Tobacco intake from smoking, chewing tobacco, or vaping may also be a cause of sallow skin. Smoking leads to a decrease in collagen production as well as a decrease in the amount of oxygen available to the skin. 

Collagen is what helps skin remain elastic and tight, and oxygen helps keep our skin hydrated. Without these, the skin may become sallow. 


It’s common for stress to have a number of effects on our skin. For instance, stress can cause wrinkling, acne, and discoloration in the skin as our cortisol hormones rise and fall more intensely. It can also lead to sallow-looking skin when stress is prolonged and left unaddressed. 

Stress impacts the whole body as well as the skin, so it’s important to make sure you find ways to relieve stress. Go for a walk or practice yoga poses throughout the day, focusing on breathing deeply and regularly. 

Take a warm bath with your favorite music playing, and do a face mask or your favorite skincare routine. Speak up if you are too stressed to take on more work and delegate to your coworkers instead.

What Gets Rid of Sallow Skin? 

The best way to get rid of sallow skin is to address the cause directly. If you notice that stress, not drinking enough water, or smoking may be linked to sallow-looking skin, take a few small steps to address the issues at hand. 

But, if you’re still not sure what’s causing your sallow skin, here are a few other ways to address it. 

Skincare Routine 

What we put on our skin matters, so not using products like cleanser, moisturizer, or an exfoliant may impact your complexion and cause sallow-looking skin. A lack of exfoliation, in particular, might be causing your skin to look sallow, because those dead skin cells that sit on the surface can dim your glow. 

Luckily, skincare doesn't have to be complicated! Here are some basics of taking care of your skin and a few general rules to follow.

  • Use a cleanser that’s gentle on the skin and free of things like parabens, harsh chemicals, drying soaps or alcohols, and fragrances or perfumes. 
  • Next, use a moisturizer to hold moisture in your skin and keep dryness out. 
  • As a bonus, use beauty products that double as skincare. Made with ingredients that are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients for the skin, you can help address sallow skin while supporting overall skin health. 

Makeup Techniques 

You could also use makeup to brighten skin. If you do choose this route, it’s important to keep in mind that your foundation or concealer may not match as well as they did before. This is because sallow skin changes the tones of skin, making it more yellow, brown, or pale. 

You may find yourself putting on extra layers of makeup to cover it or needing to find a new shade of foundation and concealer to match. While this can be an effective way to get rid of sallow skin, it often leaves your skin cakey, mask-like, and uncomfortable. To avoid this, try using a color corrector instead!

Our Alpenglow color corrector is made with Grapefruit, Blueberry, and Daisy to return sallow skin to its former brightness, eliminate dullness, and help even out skin tone

It even works to minimize the appearance of wrinkles over time. This is because the ingredients work as skincare to nourish and support skin health while also addressing your concerns for sallow skin. 

To use, begin with your normal skincare routine. Once you cleanse and moisturize your skin, place a small amount of Alpenglow on the back of your hand and warm it up for 7-10 seconds. Use a clean finger to rub it in, and pat onto your areas of concern. Because of the color, it will help cancel out sallowness and correct the appearance of unwanted color for an even, brighter complexion! 

You can also use a concealer brush or makeup sponge to apply if you prefer. Simply repeat the application process if necessary until you reach your desired coverage.

Prioritize Your Health

Have you ever noticed a difference in your complexion after a poor night’s sleep? Our skin is sensitive to internal and external changes, so things like not getting enough sleep, eating a clean diet, or drinking enough water, which, in turn, can impact what our skin looks like.

Prioritizing your health is vital to taking care of yourself. From taking care of your mental health, emotional health, and physical health, self-care is essential! 

Plus, it benefits skin too. You don’t have to try to drastically change your routines to do this. Taking just a few small steps in the right direction can help you put your health first and get rid of stubborn, sallow skin. 

Here are some steps to start with:

  • Get a full night’s sleep: We know this is usually easier said than done, but it can make a big difference in your skin. Try to get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep each night if you can. 
  • Drink enough water and eat a balanced diet: Try to get in a variety of vegetables and nutrients if you can.
  • Focus on self-care: Find balance in your evening routine. 

No More Sallow Skin 

Sallow skin can be caused by a variety of different factors, including diet, skincare, and more. After you take a look at these factors and take steps to prioritize your own health, you can use these skincare tips to help you get rid of sallow-looking skin and enjoy a bright, even complexion all day long.


How Much Water Do You Need | Eat Right

Stress may be getting to your skin, but it's not a one-way street | Harvard 

"Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior" | Mayo Clinic  

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? | National Sleep Foundation