Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

The super pale girl’s makeup guide to glowing skin

Admit it: You want off the pale skin roller coaster. You either spend your days looking pasty and clinical, or very, very, orange. You’ve had your Scarlett O’Hara moment and you’re not going to take it anymore. Neither are we.

Below are makeup tips to make your pale skin glow — and we don’t mean in the dark.

I’m so pale that when I get a tan, my skin looks like everyone else’s natural skin color. I’ve heard more references to the movie Powder than I care to count. I also went on strike from makeup for two years because in my late 20s, I still couldn’t find a foundation that suited me. I either ended up looking like Casper or Donald Trump there was never an in-between.

“Lighter skin is the hardest skin range to create a glow on,” says celebrity makeup artist Amanda Shackleton. “Most products reflect better and are made for medium to darker-based skin tones, where the shimmer instantly pops off the face.” Either the products are too overpowering on lighter skin (e.g., orange) or don’t show up at all because there’s not enough of a contrast.

So what’s a pale girl to do? “Choose products that are reflective, but don’t necessarily have a lot of pigment to them,” says Shackleton. “You want the shimmer, just not any extra color (the only exception is your blush).”


Prep your skin

Prep your skin

Pale doesn’t have to equal pasty. Before putting on your makeup, ensure your skin is clean and hydrated. Then, lightly apply a glow-enhancing base.

Why not try: bareMinerals Lit From Within Trio includes their Well-Rested Face and Eye Brightener, Prime Time Brightening Foundation Primer and Illuminating Mineral Veil Finishing Powder (a $43 value!). Not only will they smooth out your complexion, but they’ll give your skin a healthy glow. (, $20) 


Apply foundation

Apply foundation

“When choosing foundation, go for a cream,” says Kim Laudati, owner of Kim Laudati Skin Care. “Very fair skin tends classically toward dryness, so a powder or liquid foundation will only accentuate fine lines and promote dryness.”

Or, mix a few drops of foundation with your favorite face cream for a custom tinted moisturizer. “This is especially helpful for pale women with olive undertones,” says beauty editor Alexis Wolfer, and it ensures you won’t end up looking ashy or orange. (Cha-ching!)

Why not try: Laura Mercier Silk Crème Foundation hydrates, protects and evens your skin tone. It’s also known for helping fair-skinned women with rosacea and other pigmentation issues. (, $45)


Consider bronzer and blush your new BFFs

bronzer and blush

Bronzer and blush will add to your glow by “warming up” your face. Never use just one or the other — always use both, says Laudati.

Choose a shimmery bronzer that’s only a couple of shades darker than your natural skin tone. “Only add it to the higher points of the face: cheeks and cheek bones, brow bones, temples and lips,” says Shackleton. “Stick to the areas where the light naturally reflects and stay away from the t-zone. Adding it all over will make you look oily.”

Next, choose a pale pink or peach blush with shimmer built in. Lightly apply to the apples of your cheeks, then apply the remaining shimmer to the temple.

Why not try: Wet n Wild Color Icon Collection Bronzer (, $4) provides a long-lasting, sun-kissed look (and is easy on the wallet!), while Mally 24/7 Professional Blush System (, $35) gives your cheeks a dewy glow.


Show off your eyes

Show off your eyes

Avoid pale eyeshadow and go for shimmery colors that will emphasize your natural eye color. Try purples, pinks, silvers and browns. If you’re not big on eyeshadows, eyeliner alone works wonders. Go for brown or gray eyeliner if black is too bold for your taste. Finish off with black mascara and watch your eyes pop!

Why not try: Clinique Lash Power Mascara stays looking sharp for 24 hours — it’s like the Clark Kent of mascara. (, $16) bareMinerals Round the Clock Waterproof Eyeliner (, $15) is available in five different shades to go with your moods, while Benefit Cosmetics Longwear Powder Shadow comes in three different finishes and is super long lasting. (, $20)

Makeup tips for your eye color >>


Prepare your pout

Clinique Long Last Glosswear

Again, nix the use of pale lip colors and go for bright ones (like corals and pinks) that will enhance your complexion.

Why not try: Clinique Long Last Glosswear is a high-shine gloss that moisturizes and nourishes your lips for up to eight hours. (, $15)


Skip the setting powder

Since fair skin typically equals dry skin, powder will create a whitewashed effect. “Using a powder that’s even half a shade darker can make you look like you’re wearing a mask,” warns Laudati. (You know, unless you’re into that sort of thing.)

More makeup tips

Learning to love the skin you’re in
Lipstick shades for your skin tone
The best neon colors for your skin tone

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.