Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what are your makeup tips for the fairest of them all?
Makeup Tips for Pale Skin
Timeless and transcendent: we have long been in awe of porcelain pretties with Snow White skin. But fawn as we might over your fair skinned complexion, here at alexie we know that one product does not fit all – particularly when it comes to skincare and makeup. If you’ve ever struggled to find fair-friendly foundation or a light-but-bright lipstick, read on for our roundup of the must-have makeup for pale skin.
Tip #1: All About the Base
This isn’t just a tip for those with super pale skin: it’s a reminder to us all that SPF should be our best friend – even in Blighty. With our increased knowledge about sun damage and the inherent risks, there’s no reason not to wear sunscreen on a daily basis.
For all skin types – even sensitive – we love Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily Defense SPF50, a light, oil-free, everyday moisturiser that provides broad-spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and the perfect base for makeup.
Tip #2: Understand Your Undertones
Before you even think about buying makeup for fair skin, you need to know what tints to target based on your undertones and complexion. Your natural colouring provides a good guide as to what shades will suit your pasty skin (thank you mother nature!).
Work out whether your ivory skin has cool (pink, red or blue), warm (yellow, peach or golden), or neutral (a balance between cool and warm) undertones. There are three tests to determine this:
- Grab two items of clothing – one white, and one off-white/cream – and hold them against your makeup-free face. Which complements your skin tone best? White – you have warm undertones; if cream, you have cool undertones and if both, you are neutral.
- Look at the veins on your wrist. Are they green or blue? Blue-veined women will suit cool tones, green-veined warm, and if they are blue and green, both!
- Put a gold earring in one ear and a silver earring in the other. Which best enhances your complexion? Gold jewellery tends to complement warm undertones, whilst silver jewellery works best with cool.
Tip #3: Fair-Skinned Foundation
A flawless face isn’t complete without the perfect foundation, but finding the right shade can be extremely frustrating for girls with an ivory complexion. The best foundation for pale skin is one that gives a medium coverage (and so hides any acne scars, sunspots or rosacea) but is still sheer enough to let your porcelain pigments, and any fabulous freckles, shine through. Test all shades on your neck – the truest colour match – and be sure to take samples home to try out in different lights. Above all, flaunt your fair skin and do not be tempted to use a darker shade to try and give more colour; the wrong shade never looks right.
Find your match
If you can’t find a foundation that’s light enough for you (or you find a great formula but can’t match your colour), you can always add a few drops of MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation and blend to create your own bespoke shade.
Tip #4: Keep Your Eyes on the… Eyeshadow and Eyeliner
A little goes a long way when it comes to eye makeup: too dark and you will look like you’ve been in the boxing ring (and lost), too pink and you will look sick. Always opt for brown eyeliner and brown mascara to finish off your look, too. It’s softer than its black counterpart, but still striking enough to emphasise your waterline and elongate your lashes (without making them look like spider’s legs).
The best eyeshadow for pale skin, according to your complexion, is:
- Blonde & pale: The hottest hues for you are actually cold. Bluish pinks, salmon greys, and mallow mauves should be your go-to colours.
- Brunette & pale: Your radiant rosy skin will sing with warm, matte colours such as powdery plums, chestnut reds, and amber browns. Irresistible.
- Black hair & pale: Make the most of your milky skin with rich reds, bright corals, and intense lavenders. Oh hello, English rose.
- Red hair & pale: Dusty rose, apricot corals, and burnt aubergine work with both fair skin and fiery locks – creating a look-at-me-all-day look.
Find your match
Urban Decay’s NAKED1 Eyeshadow Palette, NAKED2 Eyeshadow Palette, and (you’ve guessed it) NAKED3 Eyeshadow Palette are much-hyped – and for good reason. Try Naked1 if you’re warm toned, Naked2 if you’re cool toned, and Naked3 if you’re neutral.
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner comes in 15 different shades, including brown and grey.
Tip #5: Lip Service
Great news, pale skin pretties: do not be afraid to layer on the lippy! Whether you fancy barely there or bright and bold, you can absolutely wear it and look amazing.
When shopping for nude lipstick for pale skin, look for shades with a slight peach note so you don’t look washed out. Similarly, when opting for something colourful, remember your undertones and match accordingly: a coral pink or bluish red will look radiant on a cool complexion, whilst orange or orangey red will look hot to trot on warm-skinned women.
Find your match
The best colours for pale skin include:
- Nude: Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Lipstick in Nude Beige
- Red: Tom Ford Lip Colour in Flamingo
- Pink: e.l.f. Studio Velvet Matte Lipstick in Fuschia Fantasy
- Orange: Clinique Chubby Stick Baby Tint Moisturising Lip Colour Balm in Poppin Poppy
Tip #6: Hey Cheeky
When it comes to makeup for light skin, many women shy away from blush or bronzer, fearing it leaves them looking too flushed. But worry not, fair maidens: a little colour works just as well on you as it does on other skin tones. The key is simply to find the right shade.
Again, be guided by your complexion and undertones. The best blush for fair skin blondes, for example, is a rosy pastel shade, whilst a peach or coral would work well for a warm-skinned brunette.
Find your match
- Bobbi Brown Blush in New Pastel Peach
- Benefit Dandelion
- Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Colour in Lush Nectarine
And don’t forget bronzer, either – but remember the cardinal rule: less is more. The best bronzer for fair skin is Bobbi Brown’s Bronzing Powder in Golden Light. his lightweight bronzer has a subtle, matte finish, which is gradually built up in layers. This results in a great faux glow and really warms up Snow White nude skin.
Tip #7: Highlighter
If there is one product which was made for fair femmes, it’s highlighter. Sheer and translucent, a quick slick across cheek and brow bones makes pale skin pop. Do steer clear of golden or peach-toned highlighters, however, as they can result in an unwanted orange look.
Find your match
- Peter Thomas Roth 24k Gold Pure Luxury Lift Firm Prism Cream
- Smashbox LA Lights Bendable Lip and Cheek Colour in Sheer Pink Pearl
- Estee Lauder Flash Photo Powder
Tip #8: Contouring for Pale Skin
Contouring can prove something of a challenge if you have fair skin complexion. Contour palettes for pale makeup bags are few and far between – and we recommend approaching with caution. If you do give it a go, follow the lead of makeup artists and contour with a pale foundation only a shade darker than your skin tone. This will create the desired light shadows without leaving behind a tell-tale shimmer and, if you go gradually, can simply be blended in (or rubbed off) if you make a mistake.
Find your match
Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation comes in 16 shades – eight of which are for fair skin – and, in our opinion, is the perfect place to start when it comes to contouring as the mineral-powder foundation can simply be brushed away or blended in if you don’t achieve the desired effect.
Tip #9: How to Wear A/W Trends
Crunchy leaves, oversized sweats, pumpkin lattes: we’re so excited about the onset of Autumn. The good news for all you light lovelies is that the AW16 makeup trends are perfect for your pale skin.
The key trend this fall is a dark lip – think mauve, plum, and grape. These colours look exquisite on a pale face, so it’s little wonder they were sent down the catwalk on one.
Opaque, natural skin also had its moment in the limelight, so take your time to find that perfect pale foundation using our tips above!
Bold, statement eyes were also a feature of the A/W shows, however we are less inclined to transfer this look from runway to real-life (unless, perhaps, it’s for a Halloween party).
Tip #10: Makeup to Avoid Wearing with Pale Skin
It’s one thing knowing what makeup works with a porcelain skin tone, but it’s another thing altogether knowing what to avoid. Here are a few cardinal rules:
Face powder is your enemy. It’s too heavy for pale skin and tends to result in that caked-on, wan look.
- Never ever be tempted by a darker shade of foundation. It will just end up looking like a mask.
- Treat your skin with care. Pale skin is often sensitive, too, so don’t go overboard with harsh products. Avoid drying ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Instead use a gentle cleanser once a day and a moisturiser morning and night.
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Read more great articles on women’s beauty here at alexie.co – exclusively for women who are style conscious but not confident and looking for inspiration.
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Last reviewed and updated on October 20, 2023