The Makeup Maniac: Contouring for pale skin and other dilemmas…

Anna Hunter 10 December 2015
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Contouring for pale skin and other dilemmas…

My relationship with tanning is patchy , literally and figuratively speaking. I’m so white, there’s just no covering all of the white bits. And do you know what, that’s okay. I’ve been repeating the old ‘pale is interesting’ mantra to myself for quite sometime now, and I’m beginning to believe it. Gorgeous fair of face role models such as Cate Blanchett, Emma Stone and Alexa Chung help, and encouragement from makeup legend Mary Greenwell  herself has sealed the deal. I’ve put together a handy guide for handling even the most translucent of skin tones, with expert advice from Queen Mary.

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Acing the base

First things first, it’s all the more important to do the groundwork where skincare is concerned when you’re fair of pallor. Think of your face like a pristine white shirt or tablecloth if it helps? Or listen to Mary:

“Dryness will show up much more on pale skins when you’re wearing foundation, so preparing the skin is of vital importance. Exfoliate, moisturise and prime the skin so that it looks plump and healthy before you apply foundation”

When it comes to foundation, it pays to invest in the best:

“There’s so much available on the market for pale skins shade-wise, and I’m absolutely loving the modern textures that are coming through. Where foundation is concerned, go for high-end if you can. The product will likely be of superior quality, as brands can afford to take research and development to the next stage”

Suqqu Frame Fix Cream Foundation , £62, fits the bill in the nourishment and shade range stakes.

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A whiter shade of pale

Don’t even go near anything labelled ‘golden glow’. Mary has some words on the matter:

“If you’re pale skinned, don’t be tempted to ‘warm up’ your complexion with darker foundations. It doesn’t work. Play with your paleness! It’s a great look and many people dream of having it!”

Hear, hear! Porcelain skinned screen sirens of old would concur. If your alabaster auru defies even the fairest of foundations, blend it with  Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation in 1 , £32. Inspired by the Asian skincare market, this medium coverage base lightens off-colour foundations and can be used alone as a highlighter.

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Red Alert

Rouge is lovely on the cheeks, but when you’re entire face is prone to redness, it’s not quite so covetable. I can’t be the only one of ‘ethereal’ skintone who has endured ‘Rudolph’ chants come early winter; Mary has some tips to knock back all-over-face flush:

“Using a good primer always helps when it comes to combating redness. It might be that you have to wear a heavier or thicker layer of foundation to take down redness and provide fuller coverage. There are so many fantastic concealers out there these days that can effectively lessen the appearance of  rosacea . If you have very sensitised red skin, however, you might need to use specialised skincare and products for your skin type”

Clinique Redness Solutions Instant Relief Mineral Pressed Powder,  £25.50, may somewhat evoke The Simpsons, but the light yellow tone helps to combat redness, while the gentle mineral formula calms, smooths and mattifies.

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Excess Baggage

Personally I embrace the phrase ‘the bags under my eyes are Prada’, but on some groggy mornings my dark circles induce a major sense of humour failure. The contrast between ivory skin and sombre shadow can be positively racoon-ish. Mary assures me that I’m not the only one:

“Because of its fineness, pale skin can need a bit more coverage under the eyes. A good light reflecting concealer will work wonders, just make sure that you go for a very pale tone if you’re fair”

My saviour on bad bag days is always  Nars Creamy Concealer in Vanilla , £22. It sweeps away traces of fatigue and bounces light away from shadows without highlighting the area, and is light toned enough to look believable.

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Contour with care

This is where makeup can get particularly tricky for us milky skinned maniacs-  the shade and contour stage . Approach bronzer with caution, and heed Mary’s tidings to avoid dreaded tidemarks:

“All makeup shows up much more in general on pale skins, so be wary of how much you wear. This goes for heavy pencil around the eyes and contouring especially. Contouring can look forced on pale complexions, as skin doesn’t have natural bronze colouring. When contouring opt for the palest bronze you can find- a taupe usually works well”

My personal favourite for sculpting is  The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder in Light Matte , £13. Don’t be put off by the honey reference- it creates a delicate, dappled glow that blends into pale skin beautifully.

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Let there be light

Highlighters  are a pale girl’s knight in shining armour (in the beauty kingdom context). They add radiance and definition without the need for aggressive contouring, allowing you to really ham up the fact that you’re the fairest of them all. Apply to cheekbones, the tear duct, the cupid’s bow, the bridge of the nose and the centre of the eyelid- possibly not all at once, for risk of resembling a member of the Cullen family. Pick a highlighter with light undertones rather than peach or gold ones. Ironically one of my favourites is by tanning brand of choice St Tropez- Skin Illuminator in Rose , £10. It has subtle hints of violet (very flattering on pale skins) and imparts just the right amount of sheen. Compliment the lilac tint with a lesson on eye makeup from Mary:

“Those with pale skins really suit violets and purples around the eye. Often you only need to use very little, and it adds a gorgeous child-like effect”

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Rouge Rules

As regular readers will know, blusher  is the chink in my beauty armour- I can never get enough of the pink stuff. It revives my ghostly mug like nothing else, and I can’t leave the house without it. While it’s has magical lifegiving powers, it can also be too much of a good thing. Once again, practice restraint. Mary tells it like it is:

“Blusher should be pale and clean. Soft pinks and apricots look beautiful, but muddier tones won’t suit you”

Swerve brown tones for candyfloss shades- the appropriately named  Just a Wisp Mineralize Blush by MAC,  £21, adds flattering luminosity and subtle warmth.

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Nude Awakening

Here’s a fair lady problem I’ve struggled with for years; the nude lip. Finding a spot on shade that doesn’t make me look washed out and wan is a needle in a haystack situation. Mary sympathises and has some ‘barely there’ tip-offs:

“Mastering a nude lip on pale skins can be tricky; you don’t want to look as though you’ve emerged from a coffin! White, creamy shades look better on those with darker skintones. Instead choose light pinks and apricots, as with blusher”

I’m getting on rather well with  L’Oréal Paris Color Riche Exclusive Nudes in Barely Peach by Julianne Moore , £8.19. As fair skinned role models go, she’s up there.

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Lady in Red

Never shy away from a bold, bright lip  just because you’re pale- your skintone will provide a beautiful contrast to ruby reds and rich burgundies. Go wild; you have Mary’s blessing:

“Berry shades look amazing on pale skins, as do true reds. Just call it the Snow White syndrome!”

Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope in Brat Pack , £35, is Hollywood glamour in a bullet. It’s matte yet moisturising, thanks to added apricot oil and vitamin E, and doesn’t stray all day. If you’re after lips as red as blood, Snow White style, this luxe lipstick delivers.