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Pale Girl Problems: 12 things people with pale skin will understand

I  got 99 problems, and skin like a vampire is most definitely one. Here’s a (lighthearted, please don’t write in telling me I need to get some real problems …) look at some of the problems pale-skinned girls (and boys) have to deal with…

Summer outfit ideas: blue gingham midi dress

(IDress: Old Navy;  sandals: ASOS); patchy fake tan: model’s own)

01.
You feel like you’re single-handedly  keeping the sunscreen industry afloat

I just counted, and there are currently 10 bottles of sunscreen in my house, and one in the glove-compartment of my car: and, OK, some of those are for Max, but all were purchased within the last 6 months or so, and that’s not counting the two full cans of Neutrogena I went through during our two week stay in Florida this year. It costs a LOT of money to look this dead, folks…

Related:

How I protect my skin in 100 degree heat

02.
You need at least an hour’s warning to be able to leave the house every summer

There’s no such thing as “spontaneity” for the pale girl during a heatwave: you might be able to just throw on some clothes and get out the door, but we’re going to need time to apply sunscreen to every inch of our bodies, give it time to sink in, and then gather up our hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts, and all of the other pale-girl paraphernalia that stops us burning to a crisp as soon as we step outside. Speaking of which…

03.
When you go outdoors in a heatwave, you look like you’re in disguise

I’ve had a few people express surprise at the fact that I often wear a sunhat AND sunglasses in the summer: because surely one would be enough, right? Well, no, not really, because they both perform different functions: the hat stops my scalp from burning (And if you’ve ever had a sunburnt scalp, you’ll know exactly why I’m not going to risk it…), and the sunglasses stop my super-sensitive eyes from watering in the sun. Result: I normally look like a cut-rate celebrity, wearing some clumsy disguise to try to hide from the paparazzi or something…

04.
You have to replace your summer wardrobe every year

Because that sunscreen gets EVERYWHERE, and it does NOT come out easily: trust one who knows. (And, OK, I don’t have to replace my entire wardrobe, but I do normally buy a bunch of cheap tank tops and t-shirts from Primark / H&M every summer, knowing they’re just going to get ruined with sunscreen and have to be replaced by September…)

05.
Flash photography literally makes you look like a corpse

You know how the Victorians used to take photos of their deceased loved ones, because it was often the only opportunity they had to memorialise them? That’s me in every single Facebook photo I’ve ever been tagged in: especially the ones taken in bars or restaurants, with the flash on, and me looking like I’m haunting the rest of the group, such is my extreme pallor. I have my Facebook settings permanently on, “do not allow people to tag me in photos”, needless to say…

06.
And pale pink makes you look naked

A few weeks ago, I found the perfect pair of baby pink cropped trousers. They were perfect in every way… or so I thought until I wandered into the office in them, and Terry’s head snapped round in amazement. “Oh, sorry,” he said, once he’d had a good look, “I thought you were naked for a second!” He tried to insist that the trousers were absolutely FINE, and that it was just his mistake, but given that I’d just spent ten minutes looking at myself in the mirror, wondering if I was imagining things, or if I really DID look naked from the waist down, I wasn’t convinced. I never did wear those pink trousers…

07.
You can’t wear black, either.

Some people look effortlessly chic in head-to-black. Other people look like they’ve just been exhumed. I’ll leave it up to you to work out which category I fall into.

08.
Or all-white

Because there’s pale and interesting and there’s pale and dead. Again, up to you to decide…

09.
The ‘White Socks Effect’

I’ve written before about how people sometimes assume I’m wearing white tights, when it’s actually just my bare legs, but, a couple of years ago, I realised it’s not a great idea for me to wear black cropped trousers, either, because I always end up looking like I’m wearing white ankle socks with them – THAT’S how pale my ankles are without fake tan. Now, no offence to anyone who likes that look, but I wouldn’t actually choose to wear white socks with anything, really, so I have, on occasion, found myself frantically applying instant fake tan to just my ankles and feet, so I can wear my chosen outfit without the dreaded White Socks Effect. And then I get to look like I’m wearing brown ankle socks, instead: awesome!

Related:

When (Spray-On) Tights Attack

10.
It takes half a ton of makeup just to make you look like you’re not wearing any makeup

I’m always reading about how people HATE seeing women in makeup, and think most of us look SO much better without it, but, you know what? No one has ever said that to me. Instead, I’ve had quite a few people comment on how much healthier I look with makeup on, and, back in my office days, if I ever fancied a day off, all I had to do was turn up at work without my lipstick, and, within minutes, people would be asking if I was sick, and my manager would be offering to send me home. I am KICKING myself for never taking him up on it, tbh. I wish I could say I was exaggerating here, but nope: I genuinely can’t go out bare-faced without at least one person asking me if I feel OK, because I’m SO PALE I surely MUST be ill. And everyone loves hearing how SERIOUSLY ILL they look, right ?

Related:

Why I love makeup

11.

People never stop commenting about how pale you are. EVER.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told I “need to get a tan”. Or been asked why I don’t have one. Or felt like I was on trial when I came home from a holiday, and everyone refused to believe I’d even left the country, because I was STILL SO PALE, OMG. People are hilarious, no?

Related:

Things Pale Girls are Sick of Hearing 

12.
Finding a foundation that’s pale enough for you is basically your life’s work

On the plus side, at least you don’t have to spend ages at the makeup counter, trying multiple different swatches to see which one’s the best colour match, because you know from experience that if the very palest shade available doesn’t work for you, nothing will. On the minus side, of course, the very palest shade available hardly EVER matches the paleness of your skin: and, if, by some miracle, it does, that’s more or less a guarantee that they’re going to discontinue it, isn’t it?

Related:

Foundation for pale skin: the ultimate roundup

Any other pale people out there care to add to this list?

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9 Comments
  • Myra
    July 8, 2019

    You always brighten my day with your sense of humour.

  • Laura
    July 8, 2019

    This is an excellent list and I can totally relate! I actually got diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency a few weeks ago, presumably because I avoid the sun so much. I had to laugh as it is probably the most on-brand condition I could experience!

  • Lily France
    July 8, 2019

    Oh my can I relate to all of these! I too wore sunglasses and a sunhat all day every day on holiday. My scalp burns in 2 minutes and my eyes literally cry when it’s bright, so what hope is there?

    How fun it must be to be able to choose any outfit you like, without considering whether you’re tanned enough to get away with it. I dread to think how many times I’ve thought ‘I’d wear that but my legs aren’t tanned enough to get away with it’. A scary thought!

    Lily

    jolihouse.com

  • Taryn
    July 8, 2019

    I’ve actually as a preteen been gifted tanning lotion. Such kind family. It also always struck me as funny when people said I looked like my adoptive parents since I’m so much paler than all my adoptive family. By now I’ve turned “looking like a corpse” from a problem into “my aesthetic” . I do still however have the problem of my darling husband saying “but you’re always that pale” when I ask him if I look paler than usual when I’m having health issues. Also no believes I’m a quarter hispanic.

  • MaggieM
    July 8, 2019

    Oh, Amber, I love you. My mom once observed that my bare feet were the same color as our concrete patio. No porcelain complexion for me, concrete instead. =D

  • MARKOWEOBUWIE
    July 10, 2019

    Wonderful shoes <3 xx

    • Vanessa
      July 17, 2019

      Love this. I’m a strawberry blonde in the US, so I relate. Fortunately for me, foundation usually isn’t an issue these days with brands expanding a lot of their shades. (It seems the very darkest of skin tones really get the shaft with finding the right shade now). Anyway, I’m hoping to find confidence to wear shorts and dresses without sunless tanner on my legs. Unfortunately I’m self-conscious. To make matters worse, shaving gives me ingrown hairs that are really noticeable on super white skin. Good news is I’m comfortable going without tanner on the top half of my body these days.

  • dubliner in deutschland
    July 17, 2019

    I can relate to a lot of these too! Flash photography often makes me look like the ghost in the photo! I’m delighted pale skin has made a bit of a comeback in recent years.

  • NSChristine @ TNSCK.blog
    July 19, 2019

    As a fellow redhead I loved this! Every number I would say “Yup!” Until that is, you got to the never wear black. Oh no, I love black. I mean love it! I just don’t put it right next to my face. I looks like one of those magician acts where there is a floating head. I also strongly dislike summer. Too much sunlight! I also couldn’t go over to a lot of houses as a kid because they would have pool parties and I couldn’t be in the sun. The fresh hell of it all!

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