Makeup for Pale Skin - My Everyday Makeup

I certainly wouldn't consider myself a beauty blogger, however along with "where is ____ from?", "what foundation do you use?" is definitely my most asked question. I have consequently been promising a big blog post about my everyday make-up for some time, and here it finally is! It's going to be a long post, but I hope it's helpful, and I have tried to include budget alternatives wherever I use a more high end product.


First and foremost I use a primer - I apply it to my t-zone daily, or to my full face if I'm going out or have a special event. The primer I'm using at the moment is Smashbox Photo Finish, which I cannot fault. It is quite expensive (£25) however you only need to use the tiniest bit and so it works out to be excellent value for money; I just scrolled back through my Instagram to check when I bought this tube and it was 50 weeks ago(!). The only other primer I have ever used is by MUA and is £4; I found that wearing that was better than wearing no primer, but Smashbox Photo Finish is definitely the superior product. I have included Photo Finish in my swatch below (number 1), you can just about see how it has smoothed out the lines on my hand - it has a similar effect on the face and gives foundation more staying power. 

Next - foundation. The seemingly endless search for the perfect product is made even more difficult when you have particularly pale skin! My favourite foundation at the moment is Estee Lauder Double Wear (£28.50). It provides flawless full coverage, is very easy to apply, lasts all day without being cakey and is just generally fabulous. The only downside is the annoying glass bottle, which means that you're often left with product towards the end of a bottle which is difficult to get out. The shade I use is 'Shell', which as far as I'm aware is the palest they do. As you can see from the swatch below (number 4), Shell is still slightly warmer than my skin, however the colour difference is only slight and I like that it gives me a little bit of colour. To combat the slight colour difference, I usually combine my Double Wear with Illamasqua Skin Base in Shade 2 (swatch number 3). I don't always mix the two together before applying (partly due to laziness), but usually use Skin Base on areas of my face I want to highlight and around my jawline so that blending my Double Wear into my neck looks more natural. Illamasqua Skin Base is also a fantastic foundation in my opinion, and the range of pale colours is second to none (Skin Base is also available in a pure white, which you could mix with any foundation to lighten). Shade 2 is very, very light but also quite neutral in tone, which I prefer to the very pink or very yellow undertones you tend to find in pale foundations. Skin Base is now quite pricey at £32 (although last time I purchased it it was still £27!), but is currently still available on ASOS in selected shades (including shade 2) for £27 here. The reason I prefer Double Wear, and if I had to choose just one I would choose Double Wear, is that when worn all over Shade 2 of Skin Base can look a little ghostly, it takes much more buffing to achieve a flawless finish, and isn't great if you have dry patches. 

As well as my heavy coverage foundation, I have recently gone back to an old favourite in Gosh BB Cream in Sand (swatch number 5). It is a perfect colour match, and I've chosen to replace Double Wear with it in my daily routine on days when my skin is good or I'm not doing anything special. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who is looking for a lightweight foundation / BB Cream, and especially if you're pale and/or on a budget as it is £9.99.

I also use concealer in my make-up routine on most days, either dabbed under my eyes or to cover a spot, or both. My favourite is MAC Studio Finish Concealer, shade NC15 (swatch number 6). NC15 is too yellow for me to wear all over my face in a foundation, but I find that it works well under the eyes as it warms up the blue-y tones of dark circles, and once it is blended with my foundation the colour difference is not noticeable.  I have tried Illamasqua's concealers, which are a better colour match, but found them to be a little too greasy and not as heavy coverage as MAC's. Studio Finish Concealer is moderately priced at £15 for a 7g pot, if you're using it conservatively it lasts ages. If you're looking for something cheap then I have found that Miss Sporty and Natural Collection cover stick concealers are surprisingly good for their £1.99 price tag, but MAC Studio Finish is unsurpassed when it comes to spot covering, even if there's dry or broken skin involved as it is very creamy. 

Finally, I have also included Soap & Glory Hocus Focus in the photo (swatch number 2), despite only having purchased it a few days ago. I impulse bought it, £11, whilst trying to make the most of a 3 for 2 offer on Soap & Glory cosmetics in Boots (I'm a terrible sucker for their offers), and so far I'm loving it! Hocus Focus is an illuminator, not a product I've ever considered to be an essential in my make-up routine before, however experimenting with it so far I have found that it gives a great dewy effect and highlights very subtly and I think it could serve as a 2-in-1 primer/highlighter if I found myself without a primer or powder highlighter. I have mainly used this on my cheeks and undereye area, and you can be more liberal with it than you would be with a powder highlighter for example because as I mentioned the highlighting effect is quite subtle. Whether or not I will repurchase remains to be seen as I'm more of a matte-finish than a dewy-finish gal when it comes to my skin, but it is definitely a great fun product. 


For me, my powder is just as important as my foundation. As I mentioned I much prefer a matte finish, and fixing foundation with a powder makes it last so so so much better! My two favourites are Rimmel Stay Matte, which is excellent value at £3.99 (I use the shade 'Peach Glow') and Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot, which is pricier at £12. I had been a Stay Matte worshiper for many years, generally unimpressed by both the price and comparative quality of other powders I tried such as Mac Skinfinish (expensive, lasted 2 seconds), until I got the Soap & Glory powder for Christmas and I now think I'm a convert! For a start, I have only just repurchased One Heck of a Blot and I still have a little of my old one left, which means it has given me around 4 months of mattifying whereas I replace my Stay Matte around once every 2-3 months. Plus, One Heck of a Blot is in an infinitely handier compact with a mirror and the powder hasn't broken even a little bit, which I find usually happens towards the end of a Stay Matte. As far as the quality of the actual product goes, I think that Stay Matte gives a heavier coverage than One Heck, but since switching to One Heck I've found that I never look cakey, which there is a danger of if you overdo it with Stay Matte. Colour-wise, One Heck comes in one shade for all skin types because it is transparent. How well it works on darker skin I do not know, but despite the yellow appearance of the solid powder I find that it doesn't change the colour of my base at all, unlike the 'Transparent' shade of Stay Matte which goes on too yellow for me. As I mentioned, I use 'Peach Glow' in Stay Matte, which is a great match to Double Wear Shell. Whichever powder I use, I usually apply it with a powderpuff around my nose and undereyes to really make sure the powder is pressed in, and with a powder brush for the rest of my face. 

Before I apply powder, I sometimes use Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow to contour. Now I'm definitely not a skilled enough make-up applier to get away with what I would consider 'proper' contouring, which would include the nose, forehead, jawline, etc, (and if you aren't either I would definitely recommend practicing a million times before going out with your nose/forehead/jawline contoured because bad contouring looks hideous, and far worse than no contouring at all!) but I do like to define my fairly non-existent cheekbones a little. Hollow (swatched on the far left of my hand below) has been raved about my many pale-skinned beauty bloggers thanks to its lack of orange-ness, and with good reason. In colour, it is a light brown without too warm an undertone unlike a bronzer, so is much better for creating depth. In texture, it is very creamy but also matte, and super easy to blend and build on using either your fingers or a brush. It is £17.50, but lasts an age - there is still only a slight dent in my pot despite using it fairly regularly for around 9 months.  

For an injection of colour, I use Benefit Bronzer in Hoola and Illamasqua Powder Blush in Naked Rose and more recently I added Illamasqua Powder Blush in Tremble to my collection. Looking at Hoola in the pot or even swatched on my hand (second from left) it looks far too dark and orange toned to work on my pale skin, however once blended it really does work and providing I don't overdo it gives just the right amount of warmth to my cheeks. Again, you need only the tiniest bit of product to achieve the right amount of colour, especially on pale skin, so although you spend £23.50 on a 8g pot it lasts forever - I first bought mine when I was still at sixth form, and have now almost finished my second year of university and still have plenty left. 

I tend not to use either Hoola or Hollow cream pigment without a blusher on the apples of my cheeks, and for that Illamasqua powder blushes are my favourite. Until I got Naked Rose (second from right swatch) about 6 months ago I hadn't used any higher end blushers, and tended to stick to MUA's £1 blushers (which are really great, by the way, especially for the price). However, I don't think I could go back now! Naked Rose is the perfect dusky pink shade, I couldn't have dreamed up a better colour for my skin tone if I'd tried. More recently I purchased Tremble - as you can see from the swatch (far right) it is a much brighter, more coral toned pink than Naked Rose. I bought because it was in the online sale (something Illamasqua is fantastic for, I would definitely recommend subscribing to their email newsletter), and I was expecting a more candy-pink shade because that is how it appears on the website. It is a lovely colour, but I do think that it would probably suit a bit of a tan or a darker skin tone better than it suits me. That being said, I think it will be a lovely colour for summer, especially in the (unlikely) event that I catch the sun a little. So in terms of colour Naked Rose is my holy grail for pale skin, but whichever shade you go for the product itself is fantastic. It is super super pigmented and easy to blend - you need the most minuscule amount on your brush to achieve the right amount of colour. They are £21.50 each (although like I said do look out for sales, Tremble was reduced to £10 when I bought it) but, as with Benefit Hoola, they last forever. I have had Naked Rose 6 months and frankly I could probably get away with selling it as new if I wanted to, it doesn't even have a dent yet. 

I also like to use a powder highlighter. Around 4 months ago I treated myself to NARS Albatross on ASOS (a great place to buy make-up as a student, as you can use your 10% discount), which is £21.50. It gives a very subtle highlight, as you can hopefully see in the left swatch in the photo below. I'm not sure whether or not I will repurchase this as it is quite pricey; it is definitely a great product I'm just not sure it's worth splashing out on for me personally. Perhaps I'll change my mind when I run out and start missing it though! My budget option is MUA Undress Your Skin Highlighting Powder (right swatch), which is an entirely more reasonable £3. The highlight isn't as subtle as Albatross' so I have to be careful when using this in my everyday make-up as I don't want to look too glittery. Both are fab products, I prefer NARS but as far as value for money goes the MUA highlighter is great! I haven't pictured it here as I use it mainly as an eye shadow, but I love Illamasqua Pure Pigment in Furore for highlighting too! I have also tried Topshop Highlighter in Sunbeam which is a great product and is a middle-of-the-range price at £10, but I found it to be a little too gold for me. The pigmentation is fantastic though, so if you have a darker skin-tone it would probably be ideal for you.


Foundation is probably my most asked about product, but after that it has to be eyebrows. I am really not blessed with naturally good brows, so this is an essential part of my make-up routine. For the past 6 months or so I have been exclusively using Illamasqua Powder Eye Shadow in Jules applied with an ecotools eyeliner brush on my brows. Obviously Jules is warm brown shade rather than red like my hair, however I personally don't see a problem with having brows a different colour to your hair, particularly if you keep the tone of the colours similar. As far as technique goes, I use Jules dry to fill in the main 'body' of my brows (left swatch), and then usually use it with a little water (right swatch) to give a more defined effect, especially to the arch of my brow. I have also finally started doing my brows before applying foundation like a make-up artist would but for some reason most of us don't, and I find that this makes it much easier to achieve a more natural look (or as natural as a very defined brow can be). Plus, doing your brows first makes it easier to go around them with foundation on a small brush to further define them. The ecotools brush is £5, and Jules is £15.50, not the cheapest brow product but again it does last, and can of course still be used as as an eye shadow too!

Mascara is a product that I change around a lot, I rarely stick with just one for very long. At the moment I'm loving L'Oreal Miss Manga, which is very reasonably priced at £8.99 and gives all the length/volume/blackness I like, without being flaky or drying so is fine to layer up or reapply later in the day. I have found, however, that it is quite smudgy. I have this problem with many mascaras, but I don't want to sacrifice wearing a creamy concealer under my eyes (which I think is definitely part of the cause of the problem), so I recently started wearing a layer of waterproof mascara on top of my regular mascara. I don't like to wear waterproof mascara by itself on a daily basis because I simply have never found one that is as good as a regular mascara, even the L'Oreal Volume Million Waterproof isn't as good as its non-waterproof counterpart. Doubling up and using a regular mascara with a layer of waterproof over the top, and using only waterproof on the bottom lashes, seems to give the best of both worlds as you get the effect of the regular mascara without the smudging thanks to the waterproof on top! Some other mascaras I like are Benefit They're Real (great, but a bit too expensive for mascara for my liking at £19.50), Max Factor False Lash Effect (this, or L'Oreal Volume Million, is the mascara I usually fall back on after purchasing and using a more expensive brand - a firm favourite!), Soap & Glory Thick & Fast (really great but even more smudgy than Miss Manga) and YSL Shocking Faux Cils (fantastic but expensive at £23.50, and I found that it went gloopy very quickly). 

Liquid liner is not something I wear every day, particularly when I'm getting ready in a rush, but I thought I'd include it here anyway. I have tried liners from Max Factor and L'Oreal but haven't liked either, particularly in comparison to Rimmel's. The liner pictured here is Rimmel Exaggerate, however I much prefer Rimmel Glam'Eyes. The main difference between the two is the brush - Glam'Eyes' is very thin and precise whereas Exaggerate is more of a felt tip type brush. I think that this is really a matter of personal preference, and there is in my opinion no noticeable difference in the actual product, which itself is super black and lasts very well. Both are £5.29. 


For me, the brushes I use are almost as important as the products. Before I purchased the Real Techniques Core Collection (orange handles) I hadn't found a brush that I liked to apply foundation with and so stuck to a sponge. A sponge does the job and of course is cheap (I used the basic circular sponges which are around 5 for £1 in Bodycare), however they can waste product and generally I don't find the finish as nice as the finish you get with a brush. I use the Buffing Brush (second from right) to apply my foundation, and only switch back to a sponge if I'm having a bad day with my brushes (which usually only happens if they need cleaning!). As long as I clean the buffing brush roughly once every 2 weeks I rarely have a problem, though! Sticking to the Real Techniques Core Collection, I love the smallest brush in the collection, the Detail Brush (third from right), for neatening up all sorts of things. As I mentioned before, I use it with foundation to neaten the edges of my brows, but I also do the same with the edges of my lips if I'm wearing a bold colour. I use the Contour Brush (fourth from right) for all my powder blushers, bronzers and highlighters, it's a great size and is just generally very easy to use. The Pointed Foundation Brush (second from left) is the brush I use the least from the collection because it's too small for foundation application in my opinion, but I do occasionally use it with concealer or to apply Illamasqua Hollow Cream Pigment, which I then blend into my foundation with the buffing brush. The e.l.f. Powder Brush (far right) is the only powder brush I've ever used, but it has always done the job for me so I've never felt the need to replace it. I especially like that it is only £3.95!

More recently I bought the Real Techniques Starter Set (£21.99, purple handles) which contains my new favourite brushes for eye shadows, the Base Shadow Brush (far left) and Deluxe Crease Brush (third from left). I particularly like the deluxe crease brush, which is great for buffing and blending eye shadow. I have used the Accent Brush from the Starter Set for applying lipstick, but I don't use the other brushes in the set; I don't think that the brow brush is fine enough, and I haven't found a use for the pixel point-brush. I got the set when it was on sale at Cocktail Cosmetics, and wouldn't have liked to have paid the full price of £21.99 as I mainly only use two of the brushes, but those two brushes are great. 

Annnd breathe! 3000+ words later and that is the end of my everyday make-up post, if only it was this easy to write my coursework! Please bear in mind that wherever I have mentioned a price, this is the RRP (generally from the Boots or Superdrug website), and I would encourage you to search online for more competitive prices (particularly with brands like Real Techniques) or sales or discounts (the Illamasqua sales are always great and they offer a free delivery online and a 10% loyalty discount from your third order, and ASOS offers student discount on a lot of beauty brands). I haven't included any eye shadow or lip products, but you can read about some of my favourite lipsticks in this post. I wrote it around 18 months ago but many of the products I included are still firm favourites! As I mentioned, I do love Illamasqua Pure Pigment in Furore on the eyes, but I won't get into a discussion of eye shadows here as I tend not to wear them on an everyday basis. 

I hope that this has been helpful, especially for you pale skinned girls! Remember I am by no means an expert and am writing purely as a consumer. If you'd like to recommend any products you think I'd like then I'd love to investigate those so do leave a comment, and I'd love to know if you'd like to see more beauty related posts from me! I promise I will get better at photographing products if that's the case :-)

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