The Pale Gail Revolution: How to Make the Most of Pale Skin

Pale CollageToday, dear readers, I come to you with an announcement that I never thought I would make: I am giving up fake tan. 

Ever since I recently bleached my hair and made the decision to try to achieve a very white/silver colour, I’ve been thinking about what this means for my skin.  Considering that my inspiration for the new colour was definitely a combination of Iggy Azalea and Daenarys from Game of Thrones (shut up, fictional mothers of dragons ARE legit beauty icons), I had to ask myself:

Is it time to become a Pail Gale?

I’m not the most extreme fake tanner in the world, but I’ve consistently applied fake tan at least once a week for several years now, and before a night out will usually aim to make my skin at least 26 shades darker before I’m happy leaving the house. Being tanned for me is practically synonymous with being healthy, groomed and ‘ready’. Pale is something that only happens to me if I’m ill or depressed or dressing up as a porcelain doll for Halloween (which, FYI, was the worst, fugliest fancy dress idea ever). To put it simply, although so many people pull off light skin beauifully, I just don’t know how to be pale and look nice. Here are some of the burning questions I have vis-a-vis the matter:

  • how do I avoid looking ill?
  • can I still contour or will all bronzers and dark shades look atrocious?
  • how can I make bare legs look nice and not like flabby pieces of ham?
  • what do I do if I walk past a white wall and become camouflaged and get run over by a passing bike?

Confused by all my questions, I took to Twitter and let out a cry for help to fellow pale beauty bloggers. The response was excellent and so below I have a huge amount of advice, both for myself and anyone else who might be interested in taking the pale way of life.

Vickie from Stone’s Got Style

Pale Vickie

I may not have always embraced it or been as accepting of it through out the years, but the fact is ladies and gentleman that I am, and always will be, a pale, practically translucent skinned young lady (careful I’m not that old).

Yes it has taken me many years to be able to happily and confidently say that sentence out loud. Actually that’s not exactly true up until I went to university I had a Twilight phase in which I tried to be as pale as ‘humanly’ possible (not a hard task) and didn’t brush my hair for a good 6 months in the hopes of achieving the Kristen look!

However awkward, embarrassing vampire phase aside I have always been a little embarrassed by my as my Dad would lovingly say (thanks Dad) English rose looks. Meaning I was the girl in the playground with freckles, dark hair and pale, pale skin. Sounds ideal nowadays right? But back then well they just didn’t get it (must have been the lack of Twilight).

Now like with everything first you have to find your own unique ‘look’. It took me a very long time to tell myself that it is OK to look different from everyone else. It’s all about what you feel comfortable in not about what’s in trend at that moment. I suggest trying the different trends and styles to see what feels most like you. If you feel uncomfortable in something chances are people can tell. So dare to be different be you, be pale and most of all… be proud!

Now to the first and possibly biggest problem with being as pale in my opinion is…LEAVE THE OOMPA LOOMPA’S IN THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY! Or in normal terms pick the right foundation for your skin. Let’s face it ladies no one loves a bright orange face especially when your neck is ten shades lighter! Pick a foundation that is the closest shade to your own skin tone. Something very tricky for us pasties I know, however just remember that mixing is your saviour. If you can’t find the ‘perfect’ shade for you then why not mix a couple of the closest shades you have.

Now I’m going to be a little controversial here and say that this is the same with picking and using fake tan. Sometimes you’ve just got to say no! I’m not saying you can’t tan if your pale but take the proper precautions and don’t load on the extra dark shades as I have done in the past (who else is guilty here?) and ended up looking like a basted chicken! Instead stick to gradual tanners in lighter shades so you can control the ‘orangfication’ process.

Find out what colours really pop against your skin. I am personally a huge fan of dark contrasting colours against a pale base. My pale beauty crush/ actual girl crush (you know you have them) is the stunning Rooney Mara! Oh gosh that woman can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. Since dropping the American girl next door look of long light locks and bronzed skin, Rooney has in my opinion never looked better. I love the contrast of her jet black hair and fair skin against her most often make-up choices of simple black liner and a dark berry or bold lip! I am a huge, huge fan of dark lip colours on pale skin and personally this is what I will be seen wearing nine times out of ten.

So ladies and gents my ultimate rules of the pale go something like this, embrace your natural beauty, pick the right shades for you, do not reach for the extra dark self tanner, slather is not an appropriate way to apply tan either (you know what I mean) and pick colours that really pop against your complexion. And most of all have fun with it!

A few of my favourite products.

  • Revlon Colorstay foundation- I wear the 2nd lightest shade! (can you believe it)
  • Dainty Doll and Sleek Blushers.
  • Tom Ford Black Orchid (a bit of a luxury but the perfect berry lip colour)
  • Kate Moss for Rimmel shade 04 (a cheaper alternative)
  • Sleek contour kit- light
  • Dove Summer Glow Body Lotion- fair to normal skin.

Katie from Katie Guilding

Pale KatieGuildingLike you Claire, I haven’t always embraced my pale skin and have used fake tan and sunbeds in the past. But over the past 2 years I have avoided hitting the bottle and the beds.

My first bit of advice would be don’t think pasty, instead think glossy and dewy. Use your lighter foundation shades to create a really flawless and creamy finish. In my opinion red lips look most striking against pale skin, think Dita Von Teese.

Embrace your inner old Hollywood Glamour goddess – pale was sexy (and sign of wealth!)

Looking pale and flawless is just as easy as looking bronzed and beautiful once you know how. You can still use bronzer to contour your face just don’t use as much on your brush and make sure you blend the product in to your skin. Build the products up gradually.

I also think being pale blusher is a must! It brings the colour to your face, leaving you looking healthy and fresh. You can go a pink as you wish, think the brightest pinks as well as the most pale pink shades.

Don’t be scared of flashing pale pins – tip from me always shave the night before, as well as moisturising regularly will keep you legs looking smooth. If you still feel a little uncomfortable or feel your legs have some pigmentation you want covered just lightly dust over your legs with your face powder. And a light brush of highlighter straight down the middle of your legs will create a lengthening illusion.

Over the past few years I have noticed the change within the makeup industry, more and more brands are producing many different shades of pale (instead of the one shade!) So this is the perfect time to forget the fake tan.

Use pale stars such a Nicole Roberts for your inspiration. Best of luck!

Amy from Purse Friendly Pretty

Amy Purse Friendly PrettyFair skin is possibly one of the biggest pains to work with. It burns easily, and it’s hard to find foundation to fit just right. However, there are ways to work fair skin and stop hiding it behind fake tan and bronzer and learn to love and embrace your fairness.

Personally, I aim to add colour to my fair skin without overwhelming, washing out and distracting from my features with a rosy blush, light contouring with a cool toned matte bronzer, a neutral eye, and a cool champagne highlighter polished off with a glossy nude peachy pink lip.

When you’re going for a night out, don’t forget to make any exposed pale bits (particularly legs) look great, too.
I like to conceal my body imperfections with a body foundation to get rid of bruises, veins, etc., then mix a good moisturiser with a little highlighter to make them really glow without the tan and bronzer!

My most used products for my pale skin which I recommend include:

  • Revlon Colourstay foundation in Ivory
  • Dainty Doll Loose Mineral Foundation
  • Maybelline Fit Me Concealer
  • MUA Powder Blush in Bubblegum
  • Laura Geller Blush in Nude
  • NYX Highlight and Contour Powder
  • Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in Notting Hill Nude + Pink Chic

Natalie from The Blonde Ethos

Pale Natalie

I have been blessed with very fair skin but cursed with terrible blemishes. My skin was clear throughout my teens but since I have entered my 20s, I have experienced the nightmare of acne. I understand that skin troubles can make anyone feel very self-aware but I feel that having fairer skin accentuates the extreme redness of blemishes and pigmentation even more.

Because of my problematic skin I have been forced to hunt down good coverage makeup, whereas I would have previously survived with a little concealer and bronzer, but being so fair, this has proved tricky with some of my favourite brands not even making a foundation light enough (Origins and No.7, I’m talking to you). The brands that I have researched, tried and tested (several times) and eventually invested in are:

  • Estee Lauder: I use Double Wear in shade Ivory Nude and would recommend it for all skin types.
  • Bare Minerals: I use the shade Golden Fair and would recommend Bare Minerals for normal, oily or combination skin.
  • Laura Mercier: I used Creme Smooth in Porcelain Ivory during a dry-skin phase.

With fairer skin, using the wrong shade of foundation is a lot less forgiving so please don’t settle for ‘okay’ and instead aim for ‘flawless’ – it should look like your own skin, only better! I think it is really important to know whether your skin has pink or yellow undertones; mine is yellow and, it seems, harder to match! I recommend matching foundation with your neck rather than different sections of your face and always asking at beauty counters whether a sample is available for you to try outside of the harsh store lighting and alongside your own products.

In terms of other makeup colours, I think a subtle bronzer is great to add a slight sun-kissed look as well as to contour with and my preference for blushes are pretty peaches.

Rosie from Rosie Alexandraa

Pale Rosie AlexandraFirst all, pale is the way forward! Especially in A/W!

Fake tan wise, I only ever fake tan on good nights out 🙂 I seem to be the only person who doesn’t understand the logic in just fake tanning your legs?! What about the rest of you?! Hahhaa! Anyway my favourite fake tan is St Tropez Gradual Tan in Light/Medium! As long as you exfoliate about a day/two days before hand, it doesn’t streak! I like to rub the gradual tan in with a bit of moisturiser and then apply it all over except the face because this just gives that even effect! It’s hard finding a fake tan that matches your skin because being so pale, it always looks awful! But St Tropez is by far my favourite! You pay for what you get I suppose!

Foundation wise, my holy grail foundation that i cant rave about enough is Max Factor Face Finity 3 in 1 in Light Ivory. It’s suchh a pale colour but it’s gorgeous. I can’t cope with pale people wearing foundation shades too dark, and having an awful line across their jaw to their neck, it looks awful! My plan is to rock the pale look with a pale foundation, and just make it nice with a bronzer and blush 🙂 It looks natural and lovely! That foundation is the only one I will buy. It’s perfect. It’s about a medium coverage but it’s really light and quite runny which again I find nicer because I hate thick creamy foundations.

To create a flawless look with that foundation, apply it with a brush and then buff it with a brush like RT buff brush or expert face brush or one similar! Then I use a pale powder to set  it!

Contour wise, I use the Sleek Contour kit in light because I love the colour 🙂 I then use a bronzer for places like forehead, temples, jaw line etc! My bronzer I’m currently using is the Bourjois Delice de Poudre in shade 51. There’s mixed reviews about this but i love it. It’s gorgeous, smells nice and its a lovely subtle colour that adds some colour to your face. I’ve also heard the Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder from the body shop in Light Matte is meant to be divine! And another contour kit thats great is the Crown concealer palette because it has a ray of brown shades that you can match to your skin 🙂

Blushes are great for pale skin because most of them look great. You can use a dark pink for like a natural subtle look, or a brighter pink for that flushed look. I tend to stick to more subtle blushes!

Lipsticks are awkward for pale people i think. Red looks nice especially in winter, all the dark shades are great! Nudes are good. I don’t think bright pinks are good with me though 🙁 But definitely dark shades. So gorgeous in A/W with this dark ‘gothic’ look!

The Pale Gail Round Up

Firstly a huge thank you to all the girls for helping with this post; I for one am feeling very inspired now I’ve heard all this pale-lovin’. The key things that I’ve picked up are that:

  • bronzers and tan don’t need to completely banished from my life; instead it’s just about picking the lightest shades for clever contouring and evening out pasty pins
  • highlighters are also a big part of keeping pale skin looking fresh and healthy. Just because you’re not bronzed doesn’t mean you can’t have a glow
  • contrast is the key to achieving ‘pale and interesting’ so dark lips and pops of colour should be on the agenda
  • your new best makeup friend will be blusher 

I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be fully over my penchant for fake tan, but hopefully these  tips will help me grow used to my actual skin tone and learn to embrace it.

Are any of you pale? What are your tips for making pale skin look its best? Please let me know in the comments below! 

13 Responses

  1. Vickie September 23, 2013 / 12:10 pm

    Love how the post has come together!

    I have been more than happy to help and I’ve Definitley picked up a few tips myself.

    Can’t wait to see you embrace the paleness Claire!


    • Claire September 23, 2013 / 1:50 pm

      Thanks again lovely! You’ll be glad to know I’m rocking a dark red lip to work today 😉 xx

  2. Emma September 23, 2013 / 1:06 pm

    I’ve been fake tanning for years, I don’t think I’ll ever stop…Unless I move to a warmer climate and get a natural tan ha! I’ve been toning it down recently to create a more natural look, and I’m actually happier with it that way x | A British Style & Beauty Blog

    • Claire September 23, 2013 / 1:59 pm

      That’s how I felt too, I’m interested to see how long I manage before reaching back for a bit of colour! xx

  3. Hayley September 23, 2013 / 1:53 pm

    This post has brought back memories of slathering on st moriz DARK on my paler than pale skin. *shudder* I’m not just as orange these days and defo would love to ditch the fake tan completely, but it is a scary prospect! lol x

    • Claire September 23, 2013 / 4:40 pm

      Haha same, I’d refuse to use medium – commit to the tan 😉 We’ll see how long I last on my new mission, it’s definitely a bit terrifying! xx

  4. Holly Jones September 23, 2013 / 8:36 pm

    I have naturally very pale skin, just like my mama, but my dad is dark, so when I go away I lucky tan quite nicely…but that is only for one week a year! Haha, I have had to embrace paleness and have found that if you become confident in the lipstick and smokey eye department, it can work really well with it! I never leave the house without a bold or striking lipstick, whether it’s a deep wine red, or a cerise pink! Either way, it adds a bit of colour and depth to your skin. 🙂 (Plus it’l save you some money, by not having to top up the tan)! xxx

    • Claire September 24, 2013 / 9:48 am

      I’m jealous of your ability to naturally tan – I literally do nothing in the sun, I don’t even burn haha, just go slightly beige and then back to white..! Thanks for the tip, I think strong lips will definitely be my saviour; one of my worries is looking like I just haven’t bothered to put any makeup on so at least that will be a way of saying ‘I’ve CHOSEN this look, I AM NOT JUST ILL!’ 🙂 xx

  5. Mia September 24, 2013 / 8:50 am

    Love this post! I’m pale and to be honest I just can’t be bothered with keeping up with fake tanning! I do use it on the odd occasion when I go out though. Good luck on your mission! 🙂

    • Claire September 24, 2013 / 9:51 am

      Haha thank you! Yeah I am thinking I’ll have so much more free time now that I don’t have to set aside time for tanning – I might get a lot more books read and so on 😉 xx

  6. Jessica Edmunds September 25, 2013 / 11:23 am

    Fantastic post, nice change from all the fake tan posts and all the beautiful girls embracing their pale skin! I’m v pale naturally so def will be trying out some new foundations and powders as it’s so hard to find ‘the one’!! xx

  7. Kortnie March 17, 2017 / 6:45 pm

    I am the whittess of white,love embracing my pale skin! At fourty though my legs need extra help, I’ve jergern bb body and it is alright but I want a product that makes my skin flawless white, like wearing nude nylon. I know darker skin women achieve this with self Tanner and I want the same look just in pale white. Any suggestions?

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