How to perfect pale skin on your wedding day

04 Aug 2021

Ideas and tips to embrace your true colours and let your pale skin take centre stage on your wedding day 

All images via Unsplash

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Brides shouldn't look anything but themselves on their wedding day and comfort is key when deciding on their bridal look. This extends to their choice of make-up, with natural beauty being the most requested look among make-up artists.

However, pale skin is rarely promoted and brides-to-be are generally fed stories showcasing tanning and bronzing products instead. 

With such little guidance for porcelain-skinned brides, we spoke to Esther Coats, a medical doctor and founder of Alabaster which specialises in pale skin cosmetics. 

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Commenting on the popularity of tanning products among brides, Esther says: "Many pale women falsely assume that tanned skin looks better against a white or cream wedding dress. However, not all very fair skinned people suit the orange-brown undertones of a tan. Also, there are the added worries of thoroughly exfoliating and moisturising before getting a spray tan or using tanning products, the tan streaking and most notably, the tan staining the wedding dress." 

"It is true that pale skin can sometimes look a bit dull due to poor light reflection and it is prone to whitening and brightness in photos," Esther continues. "It is also the case that reddened areas and flaws are more evident on pale skin." However, with good skin preparation, Esther advises that pale skin can look healthy and radiant on your wedding day.

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While facial redness can be managed daily by keeping cool, staying hydrated and applying a water-based spray to the face, acne and breakouts can be nipped in the bud with ritualistic skin cleansing and care, a healthy balanced diet and regular facial treatments at least three months before your wedding. Hair removal a few days before the big day will also allow time for any redness to subside. 

For optimal facial redness, pigmentation and acne management, consult a cosmetic dermatologist six months before the wedding. 

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When discussing your desired make-up look at your trial, emphasise to your make-up artist that you want to embrace your natural skin colour. The make-up artist will be qualified and experienced enough in how to achieve a flawless finish, correcting redness, blueness and grey circles to avoid a ghostly pallor. Contouring, highlighting and a hint of blush on the apples of your cheeks will only serve to enhance your natural features.

A colour-matched foundation with high coverage is essential for any bride, such as NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation, which can even be matched at a beauty counter in a high street or department store before your make-up trial. Also, a soft rose lipstick with a sheer finish will look best on lips, as opposed to pale nudes and pinks that will leave you looking washed out. 

Your make-up trial should leave you feeling confident and excited ahead of the big day and if it doesn't, don't be afraid to ask your make-up artist for a second attempt. Remember that while wedding make-up can tend to look and feel a little heavier than normal, this will usually ensure it looks great in the photographs and stays put all day long. Still, if you don't feel comfortable at any point in the trial, tell your make-up artist. 

Bride Elaine Hanzak, who got married on 3rd July 2021 at Hotel du Vin Bristol City Centre, embraced her natural skin tone for her special day. She said: "As I am naturally fair skinned, I wanted to remain authentic on my wedding day.  I asked my make-up artist for an elegant and natural look and I was very happy with what she did. I simply wanted to be the best version of myself that I could be."

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Body make-up, applied after a deep moisturiser such as a rich body butter (allowing time to sink in), can also work wonders when covering up scars, blemishes or even tattoos. If you're using body make-up it is wise to find a good colour match for a warm or cool undertone and avoid orange shades. Aim for a pearlescent neutral creamy skin tone, as seen on the likes of Elle Fanning and Emma Stone on the red carpet. 

Esther elaborates: "Be sure to use plenty of highlighter as this slims the limbs and looks beautiful on photos. Don’t shy from shine, pale skin needs a lot of it. Apply body make-up on surfaces that don’t come in to heavy contact with the dress, such as outer arms, décolletage and neck, back and lower legs. Set with loose powder or loose highlighter for transfer-free all-day wear."

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Your choice of wedding dress should also take into account your natural skin tone. Pale, cool-toned skin often suits ivory and cream shades, while pale warm-toned skin generally looks best in cold white and pale grey or blue shades.

However, this doesn't mean you can't get experimental with colour for the rest of your wedding. Dresses in crisper colours and softer shades provide the perfect canvas to let loose with the rest of your wedding colour scheme - from your bridal accessories and flowers, to the cake, décor and more. Whether your taste is for bright and bold, pretty pastels or more muted modern shades, the full colour spectrum is yours to have the wedding day of your dreams. 

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