Aisling McDermott on Beauty: Ten Great Foundations For Pale Skin

Pale as a bottle of milk? There are great foundations to suit your complexion

After years in the orange-skinned wilderness, fair-skinned Irish women have finally begun to embrace the pale. But finding the right foundation can be an expensive and time-consuming pain in the neck. It’s hard to have confidence in the assertion by bossy make-up counter assistants that we need something far darker than our natural skin colour to “warm us up”.

We do not need to be warmed up. What we need is a product that won’t leave us with a tide mark between the neck and jawline or instantly oxidise into a violent orange as soon as we have left the lights of the make-up counter behind.

Although I am not the palest of the pale (I am halfway between Mac NW15 and NW20) I have spent years talking to foundation-obsessed women and figuring out which bases provide the best colour match for milk-bottle complexions without making anyone look like a cadaver. (Hint: none of them are called Toasty Beige.)

Stila Illuminating Foundation in 10 Watts
Light and radiant: one of the best-loved pale foundations around.


Estée Lauder Double Wear Light in 1.0
With a bigger shade range than any other brand – 43 and counting – it is no wonder that this much-loved base is the perfect match for pale folk.

Lancôme Teint Miracle in 010
Light, long-wearing coverage that stays looking fresh throughout the day. All of the Lancôme foundations have good matches for Irish skin tones.

Illamasqua Skin Base in 02
The make-up artists' favourite provides a professional smooth base and cancels out any undertones.

YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat in B10
My personal favourite: a light-reflecting foundation with medium coverage.

L'Oréal Infallible in Porcelain
The Infallible foundations are comparable to more expensive bases and are available in both pink and yellow tones.

Mac Studio Fix in N10
Mac developed the palest shades of their best-selling bases inspired by the skin tones of Irish women. Previously the lightest shade had been 15, but women around the world can thank us for 10 and 13.

Nars in Siberia
Great for those who like a sheer glowy finish that can be built to medium or full coverage.

Rimmel Match Perfection in Porcelain or Ivory (depending on skin tone)
You will be pleasantly surprised by the quality andrange of shades.Pale perfection.


Urban Decay Naked Skin Powder Foundation

€36 This new compact version of Urban Decay’s liquid foundation is creamy and long-lasting and will even out skin tone and blur lines and imperfections. Available in 14 shades. Fair Neutral gets the thumbs up from my paler-than-pale tester.

Isadora Nude Sensation Fluid Foundation

€23 This new water-based foundation is lightweight but provides good coverage. The palest shade is 10 Nude Porcelain, which is one for fair ladies to try.

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation Zero Plus/Minus/Heat €38 A great trio of products to customise your foundation shade. Zero Minus lightens colour without watering down the coverage or adding any warmth or cool tones. Zero Plus darkens foundation, while the Heat Adjuster warms tone.

Essence pure skin anti-spot mousse make-up

€4.50 Perfect for teenage skin: the formula contains anti- bacterial ingredients plus zinc to calm down breakouts. It is a bit like a Sudocrem foundation in that respect (now there’s an idea), and the coverage is like Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse.

Illamasqua Rich Liquid Foundation in 100 Pure White

£30 If you have bought a foundation that is too dark, use the old pro trick of lightening it with this standout pure white base from Illamasqua to mix a customised formula.


Bobbi Brown Serum Foundation in Alabaster €49.50 There are products and then there are products that stop my heart with excitement. This is one of the latter type: a luxurious serum foundation with full coverage that drips like a dream so you can control the (small) amount you need. The lightest Bobbi Brown shade, Alabaster, had been discontinued from the regular lines and the slightly darker Porcelain was the lightest shade. I am so pleased to announce that Alabaster is back. Rejoice.



I like to look professional and groomed but blending eyeshadow colours into one another confuses me. I don’t have much time to spend getting my make-up to look perfect. Do I really need to use all those colours and brushes to get a polished look?

Answer: No you don't. You're not a make-up artist and no one has hours to spend in front of the mirror every morning putting on make-up. Apply an eyeshadow primer all over the eye area and then choose one shade of eyeshadow. The reason we blend is to soften the edges so that the eyeshadow seems almost to melt into the skin. It becomes difficult when lots of shades are being used, so do not attempt this on rushed mornings. A fluffy eyeshadow brush will soften the line, and the primer will make sure everything stays put for the day.

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