Ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
July 5, 2007 3:14 AM   Subscribe

Beautyfilter: How do I make my naturally pale skin look milky smooth?

I'm a natural blonde and look good with a tan, but as I approach the end of my twenties I'm more and more concerned with sun exposure. I already wear high SPF sunscreen every day on my face, and have decided this summer to shun the sun in favor of a more natural look for the rest of my body.

However, my skin, which is very pale, always ends up looking more translucent and veiny than creamy and soft. Every little blemish and bruise shows up tenfold. I drink tons of water, exfoliate often and moisturize every day (I have dry skin) but I also have a bit of a yellow undertone, and I think sometimes I end up looking more sickly than healthy.

When I think of pretty pale blondes, I think of women like Scarlet Johansson and Cate Blanchett. What are the best (natural) ways to care for my skin to get that same soft white look?
posted by Brittanie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
First, are you sure this is really a problem? I can't think of any pale-skinned blondes I've ever known whose skin I would've thought of as sickly. I do know what you mean about everything showing up tenfold, but I think there's a lot of 'eye of the beholder' in the tenfold.

Scarlet Johansson and Cate Blanchett

A quick Google peek says 'Oh, okay. Go buy a big pile of good make-up.' Natural they ain't. If you still want it (that look) and can deviate from the plan, a very light bronzer might be the thing.
posted by kmennie at 3:22 AM on July 5, 2007

Actually the new powder from Givenchy (Prisme Libre) is fantastic for giving you a natural sans-make up creamy white skin look.

I border on corpse-colour and am amazed every time I wear this stuff. Extra bonus - it doesn't feel like make up either.
posted by gomichild at 3:33 AM on July 5, 2007 [8 favorites]

I'm kinda thinking that you might be best in accentuating the white look -- don't hide or redefine it, paint a big sign over it.

In other words, go in a quasi-goth direction. Black eyeliner, heavy mascara, maybe black hair, and one or two black items in your wardrobe.

The "black-on-white-skin" is hot to many people, and a nice change from the unnatural tans of celebs like Paris.
posted by Gordion Knott at 4:01 AM on July 5, 2007

I have auburn hair, bright blue eyes, freckles, and the whitest skin..... i am always being told how pale i am by some people and how 'English Rose' i look by others.

Kmeenie is defiantely right... it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Be comfortable in the skin your in!
posted by spotty_dog at 4:13 AM on July 5, 2007

Well, I totally know what you mean, I am less pale and more just translucent and colorless. My dermatologist said that some of the laser treatments that are meant to build up collagen (basically a thickening of the skin by means of controlled scarring) can acheive this look. The biggest side effect of these controlled burns is hypopigmentation and if you already have little pigment is really isn't an issue.
posted by stormygrey at 5:04 AM on July 5, 2007

I'm not looking for drastic procedures or layers and layers of make-up. I was just wondering if there are any natural tips (like, good products I can use or some crazy oatmeal yogurt honey concotion) to help smooth out the skin tone and make it look softer. No way in hell am I coloring my blonde hair black!
posted by Brittanie at 5:21 AM on July 5, 2007

I'm equally pale-skinned, and recently started using my favourite soap ever: Arosa Queen Silver Soap. At $40 a bar it's expensive (imported from Japan), but I find the stuff amazing - it makes my skin super-smooth and literally squeaky-clean. I'm lucky enough to have a decent complexion already so i can't speak to the colour, but it's definitely a great product. You can request a sample from NeoSkinCare before spending the dough.
posted by ukdanae at 5:30 AM on July 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

well, be sure to use gentle exfoliation--too much can make your skin look blotchy. my favorite exfoliant is honey and rock salt. also, if you break out a lot, you might need to try an oil-free moisturizer. you might try a masque of powdered milk (make a paste) once or twice a week to soften your skin.

if you are looking for affordable makeup, i like maybelline's purestay powder foundation. you can apply it wet for more coverage or dry for less (i do it dry, after my face lotion). it lasts all day, doesn't feel heavy or thick, and has spf 15.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:32 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

That moisturizer that has fake tan built in... does not look fake like actual fake tan. I use the Aveeno stuff, which has only a mild (for a beauty product) smell and is fairly fool proof for producing a healthy look.
posted by anaelith at 5:45 AM on July 5, 2007

This is what makeup is for- even a light powder or tinted moisturizer could provide the coverage you need. I hear mineral powder foundation is very light and natural; it's on my list of things to try. I also use a little fake tanner moisturizer, like anaelith says- they make them very light, and you could always stop using it if it looks too weird.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:54 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oops, i misspelled Arsoa Queen Silver Soap
posted by ukdanae at 5:58 AM on July 5, 2007

ukdanae, I live in Korea so it might be cheaper here. I'll see if I can find some.
posted by Brittanie at 6:03 AM on July 5, 2007

Products with light-reflecting qualities are great for evening out pale skin without gooping on a lot of thick makeup (that usually doesn't quite match your skintone anyway -- bah). Most of these are marketed as "highlighters." Dabbing a bit of highlighter on a blemish will reflect light away from the dark spot and smooth out the appearance of your skin.

-- YSL Touche Eclat is popular with alot of mu artists
-- I like LORAC's Luminizer myself
-- Bobbi Brown's Shimmerbrick is another easy way to get subtle light-reflecting shimmer across a lot of skin

There are lots of other cream/powder/lotion highlighters out there; I'm sure you can find one that works for you.
posted by junkbox at 6:21 AM on July 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

gomichild, if no one minds my tagging along on this question, which color did you get? They are scary to those of us used to white, tan, non-pale-green/lavender powders. Do they just mix and look normal on (suspecting yes)?
posted by theredpen at 6:45 AM on July 5, 2007

I got the light pastel - the white, green, purple and blue.

To be honest I was totally skeptical about this powder while I was at the Givenchy counter (I live in Japan and it's hell to buy things here to match my skin tone - I couldn't buy foundation here until Anna Sui brought out her Goth-lolita range) - but the Japanese Sales assistant convinced me to let her powder half my face.

Suddenly half my face looked all smooth and unblemished - even under the dreaded flouro lights and on a warm humid day. Luckily she did the other half as well - and myself and my pale friend with me both bought it on the spot.

It didn't really sweat off much, didn't cake and didn't make me want to scratch it off after a few hours. In the right light there is a little shimmer.

Application is easy - just shake it onto the puff and whack it on. (I usually use without foundation.) Takes a few shakes to get enough to cover well - the holes are in the shape of the Givenchy logo - and the powder release is quite limited every shake. One the other hand you don't tend to over-use this way - which is just as well because it is expensive.
posted by gomichild at 7:02 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh forgot to say that as you put it on with the included powder puff all the powder colours mix. You don't end up with any purple or green streaks.
posted by gomichild at 7:04 AM on July 5, 2007

My favorite gentle exfoliant is actually just plain oatmeal. Put some in the palm of your hand, add a little warm water, and rub all over your face--it should just rinse down the drain. It gives my skin that glowing sort of look, and makes it all velvety soft as well.
posted by paleography at 7:15 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thank you! And thank you Brittanie for asking this.
posted by theredpen at 7:16 AM on July 5, 2007

gomichild, the Givenchy product sounds remarkably similar to Guerlain Meteorites. I am wondering how the two compare.
posted by needled at 7:24 AM on July 5, 2007

Oh yeah seems to be the same idea - but the Guerlain has more golds and pinks and much less of the blue/green.

Haven't tested it myself - Guerlain doesn't seem to be so popular here.
posted by gomichild at 7:58 AM on July 5, 2007

My tip is only useful from the neck down... I'm also very pale. After I started using body oil after showers (before toweling off, while still all wet) I started getting unexpected compliments on my skin. 'Smooth' and 'creamy' were mentioned. I use Neutrogena body oil, unscented -- I believe it's a light sesame oil.
posted by tomboko at 8:03 AM on July 5, 2007

In my experience real (i.e. non-made-up, non-photoshopped) pale skin is generally transparent and susceptible to wear and tear, much more so than darker skin; it's beautiful, by the way.
posted by londongeezer at 9:03 AM on July 5, 2007

Splurge on a professional facial once a month. A skilled esthetician can work magic. I periodically give my skin a good steaming over a pot of water & a combination of various herbs (chamomile/mint/lavender). A couple of products I really like for my pale skin that don't make me look like pasty pants mcgoth are: "Philosophy airbrushed canvas spf powder" and "Estee Lauder equalizer foundation."
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:21 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am a fair but not pale green-eyed blonde, and boy do I wish I could get milky-like. Ever since I stopped coloring my hair copper, I feel like my coloration is that of a sagebrush desert, and not much like my personality. So, color tips: a little red in your hair, just a little, like a box of strawberry blonde with no ammonia (semi-permanent) every month or two might do surprising things to the apparent color of your skin. Also, translucent purple eyeshadow really seems to make my eyes pop as well as give my skin a pale peachy hue. Try out red-red or plummy translucent lipsticks.

Or, do try some mineral foundation. I will never, ever wear talc again. This stuff is very very smooth feeling and seeming. Tough to over or under-use, though I've never caked it on exactly, and never makes me break out.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:22 AM on July 5, 2007

Try using a big horse brush on your skin. Though obviously yourself not being a horse it will need to be silky soft bristles.

Downward strokes on clean dry skin then moisturise afterwards. Palmers Cocoa Butter is good and if you're pale enough it leaves a faint stain which is good.

Colour schemes - pale pink & brown, denim, hair loosely swept up - can't go wrong. That light electric blue colour is never your friend but particular shades of a deep, dark blue just pull everything into place and will be striking.

Chat to a hairdresser some sneaky foils can do some very obvious things.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 8:38 AM on July 7, 2007

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