The Best Makeup Must-Haves For People With Fair Skin

With the recent increase in knowledge about sun damage and the risks therein, tanning practises (unless faux, of course) have fallen out of favour. In fact, more of us are now embracing our natural skin tones.

Women with extremely fair skin are finally having their moment in the sun again (well, metaphorically speaking), thanks to celebrities like Emma Stone, Rooney Mara, and the Fanning sisters to name a few. They really know how to make their red-carpet beauty looks work with their fair skin.

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There is, after all, a certain amount of effort involved in maintaining fair skin. Not only is it important to wear at least SPF 30 every day to protect your complexion, but it can often be a headache trying to find the right makeup. It can be hard to find a shade of blush or lipstick that won't look clownish against fair skin, and things like foundation and bronzer often look fine in the store but then quickly take on an orange cast on the skin.

Ahead, find a roundup of the best cosmetics for the super-fair, as well as some handy tips. Just don't forget the SPF.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner is a cult favourite for a reason: It’s easy to apply and lives up to its name by never smudging. But, black eyeliner can often look too harsh on those with extremely fair skin.

Luckily, Stila provides this excellent eyeliner in 15 different shades, so you can see if brown or even grey are less jarring options for you. Another tip for the more daring: Try applying a shade of blue or green in a thin line on your upper lash line for a subtle, but pretty, alternative to black eyeliner.
Stila Stay All Day Eyeliner, $16.00 Buy
Photo: Courtesy of Target.
Red lipstick can also be challenging for the fair-skinned, but for the opposite problem: The contrast can look so striking that it can be a little startling if you’re not used to it. A good starter red lipstick for fair women is Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Standout. Not only is it affordable and easy to use, but it is a perfect true, blue-based red that looks amazing with fair complexions.
Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Standout, $7.99 Buy
A hero product for those with oily skin. Avoid that 11am T-zone shine with this universal blotting powder that absorbs excess oil and diffuses the look of pores so you're always photo-ready. Its translucent colour means you can dab it over shine-prone areas, i.e. the forehead and nose, without smudging makeup.
Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Powder, $24.00 Buy
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Super bright red may seem intimidating for the fair of face, but the rich blue undertones of this MAC classic flatters the skin tone and makes white teeth pop. Dab across lips for a smudge of colour, or go all-out with lip liner, filling in and defining the lips, before layering and blotting on repeat. It suits all skin colours, but we particularly love it on fair skin with just a lick of mascara.
MAC Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo, $17.50 Buy
Photo: Courtesy of NARS.
NARS' Radiant Creamy Concealer is bound to become a holy-grail item for anyone who tries it, but it is particularly ideal for those with tricky skin tones and textures. It comes in a wide range of shades, from chantilly to cacao. Chantilly is described as a “true ivory shade for the fairest complexions,” so if you are so fair your skin is practically transparent, this is the concealer for you.

For those with a slight hint of pink in their skin tone, go up one shade to vanilla for a good match. The best part about this concealer is that, as the name promises, it will make your skin look lit from within. It’s very easy for fair skin to look flat and dry when made up, but this concealer imparts a subtle shimmer (without resorting to flecks of glitter or any horrors of that kind) and glides smoothly onto even the most dehydrated skin.

If you’re on a budget, Maybelline Fit Me! Concealer is a great drugstore option that is comparable to NARS'. It only comes in six shades, but the lightest — fair — is extremely light, and the formula has a fairly creamy consistency. However, if you want a greater shade selection and that hard-to-get glow, you should save up for the NARS. You won't regret it.
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, $24.00 Buy
Concealer should go on after foundation for full coverage, but foundation can be incredibly frustrating for those with extremely fair skin. Discolouration from acne scars or sunspots as well as skin conditions like rosacea (or even just normal ruddiness) often stand out more clearly against fair skin.

Many BB creams are often too sheer or orange, so those with very fair skin are probably going to be better off looking for a medium-coverage foundation from a line that offers a variety of shades, such as NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, L’Oréal True Match Liquid Foundation, or Clinique Even Better Makeup.

Remember to look for a foundation that is sheer enough to let your freckles show through if you have them — freckles are too adorable to cover up — and that doesn’t oxidise after a few hours’ wear. Wearing a primer under your makeup can help to prevent oxidisation. It’s also best to wear sunscreen under your foundation or even choose a foundation that already has SPF, to better preserve your porcelain skin — both the Clinique and L’Oréal foundations have an SPF of at least 20.

Finally, if you simply can’t find a foundation that’s light enough (or if you find one with a great formula but not-so-great shade range), you can easily tweak it to your liking by adding some MAC Face And Body Mixing Medium in White. It is literally pure white, so by mixing this with a too-dark foundation, truly fair girls can create their own perfect shade.
L'Oreal Paris True Match Liquid Foundation, $9.99 Buy
Photo: Courtesy of Bobbi Brown.
Many fair women shy away from blush out of fear of looking clownish because it can stand out so starkly against fair skin tones. This can be a mistake, because a bit of colour on one’s cheeks does a world of good for just making one appear alive. The key is to find the right shade of blush for you. As professional makeup artist Kristina Johnson (who has very fair skin herself) says, “Make sure you have colour on your cheeks, but be careful with blushes and bronzers that are too dark or orange.”

Try soft, sheer shades of pink first — Bobbi Brown Blush is the best for a natural-looking flush of colour, offering a wide variety of shades to choose from. Johnson also recommends trying to match or coordinate your cheek colour to your lip colour (that is, warm-toned pink lipstick with a warm-toned pink blush).
Bobbi Brown Blush in Apricot, $21.00 Buy
As Johnson pointed out, many fair women fall into the trap of using bronzer that is too dark or orange for their skin tone. It happens to the best of us. Even bronzers that look innocent enough in their packaging at the store can wind up turning orange once on your face.

Possibly the best bronzer for the fair-skinned is Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer. It comes in two shades: the fairest of the fair will probably want to stick to the light/medium hue, but most fair women should have no problem even with the darker shade, medium/dark. It is a true brown, with no hint of orange whatsoever, and it goes on sheer enough that it would be difficult to overdo it. Oh, and the best part about this bronzer? It actually smells like a chocolate bar (without making you look like you rubbed one all over your face).
Too Faced Soleil Bronzer, $25.00 Buy
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For a bit of contouring, simply use your finger to swipe a line under your cheekbones to your temples, and then buff it in thoroughly with a kabuki brush. That last step is key for a soft look that won’t be too harsh or obvious.
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Fair/Medium, $49.00 Buy
Prefer a balm-like effect? This lightweight colour gives lips a healthy dose of colour that looks like your lips — but better. It's incredibly flattering on those with fair skin tones and creates a bit of a stain, so it stays in place.
My Beauty Brand RichGlide Cream Lipstick in Elodie Blush Rose, $18.00 Buy
Highlighter is at least somewhat easier for fair women than bronzer or contour, since it is usually quite sheer and light-toned. When choosing the right highlighter, one must consider three things: shimmer, opacity, and undertones. Usually highlighters come with pink, gold, or silver undertones; whichever one you pick depends mostly on whether your skin tone is warm or cool.

Just beware of golden or peach-toned highlighters that can sometimes veer into orange territory on fair skin. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector is perfect for a warm glow that won’t read orange even on the fairest of faces.
Becca Opal Glow On The Go Highlighter Kit, $22.00 Buy
For something with a bit more shimmer — which makes for a perfect product to wear after dark — look no further than this chubby stick from Smashbox. We've waxed poetic about this formula before — and for good reason. It goes on sheer, is easily blended with the included buffer, and looks beautiful against the fairest of skin.
Smashbox L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color, $26.00 Buy
Nude lipsticks can be tricky for every skin tone, but those with very fair skin have to be especially careful when looking for the right shade. Too light and you'll look completely washed out; too dark and, well, then it no longer has the desired effect of a nude lipstick. The right nude lippie for you might include notes of peach or pink — you don’t want it to be completely colourless, but do try to avoid any brown or orange in your lipstick.

Alexa Chung recently confessed her love for the nude shades of Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte lipstick and, considering she's the reigning queen of the cat-eye-and-nude-lip look, you know she wouldn’t steer you wrong. Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte in Rose Afrique is the top choice: just the right hint of pink, a creamy formula, and beautiful packaging. Much like tracking down that perfect red lipstick, however, it can sometimes take a while to find a nude lipstick that works best for you.

If you’d like to spend less money in your trial-and-error phase, e.l.f. Mineral Lipstick in Natural Creme and L’Oréal Colour Riche in Cafe De Flore are both excellent options for those on a budget.
YSL Beauty Rouge Volupte Shine Lipstick in Rose Afrique, $30.00 Buy
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If you're fair and wondering which of the much-hyped Urban Decay Naked Palettes to purchase, we’ve got your answer. The general guidelines for wearing eyeshadow when fair are that darker shades can impart a too-harsh, bruised look, while pink or red shades will make you look tired or even ill. (And, of course, nude shades may simply blend in to your skin completely.)

For this reason, fair women will most likely get the most mileage out of Naked Reloaded, which has an ideal mix of taupe and grey-beige hues that will be particularly flattering to cooler skin tones.
Urban Decay Naked Reloaded Eyeshadow Palette, $39.00 Buy
Many fair-skinned ladies opt for jet-black mascara to ensure that their often almost invisible lashes are not to be missed. But, while we won’t knock a great bold lash look every now and again, sometimes a soft, subtle brown mascara is just what the doctor ordered for an everyday look.

Especially when you’re of the fair variety, brown mascara can go a long way in highlighting your long lashes without making them appear like spider legs. Try Clinique’s Lash Power Feathering Mascara in Dark Chocolate, which is great at separating the lashes and giving them some extra oomph, but will also give you just the right amount of eye-opening lash for day.
Clinique Lash Power Mascara in Dark Chocolate, $20.50 Buy
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