the ultimate guide to fair skin

The Awkward Girl’s Guide to Fair Skin

When you have fair skin you get used to a lot of things.

Never being able to find a foundation that’s pale enough. Having to spend an hour slathering yourself in sunscreen before you leave the house, because you’re scared of burning your fair skin. Constantly being asked why you don’t have a suntan when you’ve been on vacation – and being told you’d look “healthier” with one.

Well, there’s no such thing as a “healthy” suntan, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having fair skin, either. Sure, pale skin requires a little bit more maintenance and it can be harder to find products that work for it, but it makes me so sad when I hear people say that someone with fair skin “needs to get a tan.

No, they don’t.

No one should ever feel like they need to try to change their natural skin colour in order to meet someone else’s beauty standards, and after years of hating my freckles and trying every brand of fake tan known to woman, only to end up looking like a slice of streaky bacon and smelling like feet (Why does fake tan always smell like feet?!) I’ve finally learned to just embrace my fair skin. Well, rather that than end up burning it (or worse) in the pursuit of a skin colour I’ll never have, after all.

On this page you’ll find links to some of the articles I’ve written on products for pale skin, from foundation and concealer to sunscreen and skincare. There’s aren’t a huge amount of them right now, but I’m hoping to build this page into a resource for people with fair skin everywhere, so please check back soon, or bookmark my Products for Pale skin page!

the ultimate guide to fair skin: skincare, makeup and other products for people with pale skin

But first things first…

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having fair skin. Nothing. It absolutely infuriates me when I hear people say someone “needs to get a tan”, or that they look “sooooo unhealthy!” just because they happen to be pale. Pale skin IS healthy. For some of us, it’s just how our skin is supposed to look – and to be totally honest, anyone who wants to just that someone’s natural skin colour is “ugly” or should be changed really needs to have a long, hard look at themselves.

That’s why I wrote this post:

PALE AND PROUD : why I won’t be getting a suntan, no matter how much you tell me I “need” one.

Since I wrote that post, I’ve had quite a few emails from people – many of them young – telling me how hard they’ve found it to deal with people’s reactions to their pale skin, and how ashamed they are of their natural skin colour. It honestly breaks my heart to read things like that, and to hear that people are actually being bullied because of their skin colour: crazy, huh? If you’re one of those people, take a look at the post above, and don’t ever let anyone tell you to change the colour of your skin: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Here’s an article I wrote in response to one of those reader questions:

How to Feel Comfortable in Your Pale, Pale Skin

And with that little rant out of the way, here’s some more specific advice for fair-skinned people…

Foundation for Pale Skin

The Best Foundation for Pale Skin: a roundup

One of the few benefits of having very fair skin is that you never have to wonder which foundation shade to try: it’s ALWAYS the palest one available… and if that does’t work, well, too bad, right? Finding foundation that’s pale enough is an eternal struggle for many people with fair skin, so in this post, I round up all of the foundations I’ve tried, and rate them according to how suitable they are for fair skin: there’s also tons of advice in the comments of each review, from pale-skinned readers with their own suggestions. Here, meanwhile, are some more foundation reviews that I haven’t had time to add to the roundup yet:

Two fantastic budget foundations for pale skin

My latest foundation find for fair skin

Protecting Pale Skin

Sunscreen is absolutely essential for people with fair skin, and I rarely leave home without it. Right now I’m on a mission to find a non-greasy, high SPF sunscreen, which doesn’t stain my clothes: although I’ve tried dozens, I’ve so far only written a couple of reviews, so keep an eye out for updates to this section!

How I protect my pale skin in 100 degree heat

What happens when a pale girl tries self-tanning drops

High SPF sunscreen for pale-skinned mums and babies

Chanel UK Essentiel SPF 50

Banana Boat Continuous Spray SPF 110


Makeup for Fair Skin

Just a few of the products I’ve used and recommend for people with very pale skin:

NARS Illuminator in Orgasm

The Best Concealer for Pale Skin

A budget concealer for pale skin

3 highlighters for pale skin

The best fake tan for pale skin

Other articles on fair skin

When you have fair skin, it can be really hard to find products like foundation and concealer that are pale enough to match your skin colour, and even sunscreen often isn’t a high enough SPF to protect your delicate skin. Here are some other articles that might help:

Things Pale Girls Are Sick of Hearing

7 Things Pale Girls Should Know About Makeup and Skincare

10 Great Foundations for Pale Skin

The Awkward GIrl's Guide to Fair Skin

the ultimate guide to pale skin: skincare, makeup and other products for people with pale skin


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  • I like to maintain my skin as fair as possible because it is my beauty ideal although my skin is able to get tanned quite easily. To protect myself I like to use a sunscreen Daylong 50, my dermatologist recommended it to me years ago and since my family never bought a different one. I also like to protect my face with a wide brimmed hat during summer.
    I agree it is problem to find fair toned mkeups, I had a few favourites over the years but they usually stopped being made. Although I like my skin I ahave a problém (maybe just subjective) with blushing so I am using a heavier makeup by Dermacol, not just a light foundation. On the other hand I don´t mind because I live in a big city with polution in the air so it might help to protect my skin.

    July 14, 2015
    • Chaewon


      My parents say my foundation was too pale, but it was an exact match. A bit annoying

      October 20, 2020
  • Thank you so much, Amber, for defending pale skin beauty! After years in my childhood to bear the questions and comments of why I wasn’t getting tanned whereas we lived next to the ocean, I came up with the argument “wait a minute, some people are very black and if you say anything bad you’re racist, so what’s the matter with people who are very white???” Indeed, it did hurt me even more when I was a teenager. Today I don’t care anymore, I learnt how to appreciate myself with a style similar to yours, and since I’m a divemaster anytime someone dares to ask the ****** question everytime I come back from Bali or Mexico, I say “Sorry I had better things to do underwater than doing nothing on the beach”. Make-up artists from MAC are awesome and provided me the best colours ever for foundation and concealer, and I got an awesome lipstick from Dior who just matches me perfectly! Who said you can’t be an adventurer and want to be pretty? even if you have pale skin… ^^

    July 14, 2015
  • I have pale skin with freckles in Winter, and it tans very easily in sunnier climates. There is such a thing as a healthy tan for some people, like everything else in skincare, it’s mostly genetics. I prefer my skin when it’s tanned because it means I spent at least two weeks in a warm and sunny place, but that’s it. Telling people with naturally fair skin they need to get a tan sounds like telling people with darker skin to wear more sunscreen…

    December 6, 2015
  • Hey Amber!
    There’s some code appearing at the bottom of this post, thought you might like to take a look. And also… I’m new here but I’m in love! I’m a fair skin blogger from Belfast *reaching out and touching scotland* and I LOVED this post.
    If the sun ever comes out here, I wear a giant sun hat and I’m covered head to toe. Usually melt to death as well but it’s worth it. And always wearing factor 50 🙂 when I try to tell people why they need to wear sunscreen and not factor 6(!) (my own mother) I get scoffed at. pfffft.
    I’m just trying to divert you off the old skin cancer road but whatever :p
    You have an awesome blog. I particularly liked the post about working with brands. I’ve been in contact with someone who is just down right rude and I’m not sure what to do. I will figure it out but usually I need the -10 seconds and a deep breath- before im able to respond!
    I don’t know why I’m offloading on you. Maybe because you’re wonderful. Who knows.
    Lots of love and smooches

    June 27, 2016
  • I just want to say thank you for writing this post. I’m nearly 40 and it’s taken me all of this time to embrace my fair skin. I’ve damaged it in the process of desperately trying to get a tan. No more! I’m fair and gorgeous! It’s been lovely to discover your blog tonight.

    February 15, 2017
  • Nika


    Hey girls, I ended up here because I have my sister’s wedding in the summer and I just know all the girls are going to be glowing with tan in their light dresses but I’m not gonna. First of all I suffer from PMLE which now is barely under control so no sun for me and I hate fake tanners. I have a blush dress and I want to be as pale as possible without looking too pink so I’m looking for some tips on what to do. But it turns out that I have some tips for you. No 1: mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreens don’t protect your skin like the physical blocks. My dermatologist told me that a chemical sunscreen is not going to help with my condition because it still lets in sunrays so protection against wrinkles? Forget it. Use mineral block for the face. Number 2: foundation – the best thing in the is world Korean bb cream and in general Korean stuff (buy it from ebay if you have to although sephora and urban outfitters have some) they actually have brightening masks and lines for the pale! It’s amazing. And the bb cream is something I’ve been using in place of foundation for years now. It might look scary to you at first because some of them are almost gray. That’s because they have a lot of green tint which neutralizes the redness so even a thin layer that’s almost translucent has a better coverage than anything I’ve tried before. If you have any suggestions for me on how to be wonderfully pale all summer or want some tips on what products to use just contact me through my instagram @xxxholicxxxrip 😀 stay pale!

    March 7, 2017
  • Molly


    I want to thank you SO, so much for this and for all of the content about loving your pale skin on your website. I’m 26, SUPER super fair, and it has been so helpful and meaningful to me. I remember getting made fun of so much in elementary and middle school for my skin, and I developed a huge complex about it– I started using sunless tanner/lotion starting in 9th grade, and was always orange and always trying to hide my true skin tone. I wore makeup far too dark for me in an attempt to trick others, and was always MORTIFIED if I didn’t get a chance to spray tan before even wearing a knee length skirt.

    Starting about two years ago, I began embracing my true skin tone, and not only am I much happier, but I get SO many compliments on my skin. Sure, I get plenty of people telling me how much a need a tan, or asking me ‘why I’m so white’, or telling me I look sick, but I also get a ton of people complimenting me. But more than that, I feel much more comfortable in my own skin– literally. Your super helpful website has been hugely helpful in getting to that point, and I just want to thank you so much. Now I love my pale skin– thank you for that!

    September 15, 2017
  • Sheen


    Hi everyone I just wanted to ask everyone with beautiful ginger/red hair but what would be the best eyebrow product to suit ginger/red hair? Being a student I can’t afford to buy random products just to find that it doesn’t suit me as it would have a bit too much brown in it.

    September 29, 2017
  • Hey everyone, first of all I wanted to thank you for this article, even if I’ve read article about Pale skin before, I had never read one like that. I need to say I am from France, and i’ve always been really hurt by a lot of relexions on my skin all my childhood.
    Recently, the suntan becomes more and more appreciated and when your skin remains very white on June, people find it weird.
    Now every summer i’m almost ashamed to wear short dresses, either i put some sunless tanner, or i take “tanner pills” from April to July, to prepare my skin to the sun (they are really expensive).
    Anyway, i don’t know yet if i’m ready to assume my pale sking, but I am angry about how people determine a kind of beauty.
    I am still spending hours under the sun even if I know it damages my skin, just hoping it will magically tan.

    April 18, 2018
  • CA Cooke


    Yes ! I’m a pale skinned brunette with hazel eyes and am tired of people joking about my skin colour .
    “Don’t you take a tan ?” “ aw poor you “ ?
    I usually say “ yes , I do tan but I choose not to “

    June 29, 2018