As a child in sun-drenched Lisbon, one of my growing pains came from the fact that – contrary to everyone around me – my skin was painfully pale, the kind of milky white which, so transparent and devoid of melanin to call its own, would reflect back whichever sun ray dared to try painting it any other shade than magnolia.
Surrounded by the aforementioned peers with all kinds of bronzed faces and limbs – cheerful in their uniformed anonymity – I stood out, embarassed by the skin I was in, secretly wishing to – not unlike them – spend the whole day at the beach, something which came as no priority compared to my love of reading and the great outdoors and, by contrast, loathe of crowds and sand-scratched sunburns.

Then the teenage years came. Along with grunge.
Like most creatures, I began craving being and looking different.

Slowly embracing my ghostly pallor, cheeks were adorned with peachy hues and lips with a lick of crimson lipstick – inspired by the photography of great romantic masters such as Sarah Moon and Paolo Roversi – finally feeling different enough but somewhat part of a privileged crowd of outsiders.

Time goes by, and today my skin isn’t as pale as it used to be, mainly due to mid-winter escapades to somewhere warmer, and the melanin build-up which naturally occurs when Summers stack-up one into another like dusty old books.
With being on both sides of the skin colour spectrum (well, nearly), I’ve learnt that pale can be as beautiful as tanned, if not more rebellious, as if you’re uncompromisingly breaking the dress code for the most important party of the year.

If thus, blessed with porcelain skin, here’s how to embrace it in all its classical beauty:

dorian leigh

– Pale beauty is what the great masters have always visually-feasted upon, thus inspiration can be found anywhere, from Vermeer works to contemporary muses such as as Dita Von Teese and Cate Blanchett.

– Diaphanous and ethereal, unlike its tanned counterparts porcelain skin loves matte texture as a blank canvas. Watercoloured with saturated veils on the lips and cheeks, it creates a contrast worthy of old-school beauty grooming (think 1940s ladylike, as seen above on Dorian Leigh).

– Quite a few brands concoct makeup products for paler skins, but M.A.C. – with its never-ending range of warm and cold tones – still beats the competition in my book. Hands down. Blindfolded.

– Being translucent, lighter skin tones reveal all matter of sins and therefore require higher maintenance and TLC. Lots of water, vitamins,  and the regular use of exfoliation (either chemical or scrub) are essential.

– And, last but not least, staying out of the sun is a must (a rather achievable goal in Blighty), and Clinique has great skincare with high SPF which does what it says on the packaging and acts as a UV protective, highly-nutritive cushion.

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