It happened again last week.
I was out visiting family, and a casual acquaintance of theirs – a woman I’ve only met a few times – suddenly zeroed in on my pasty complexion.
“Are you feeling OK?” she asked, cutting across the conversation we’d all been having to address me. “Because, it’s just, you’re SO PALE! You really look ill!”
Embarrassed, I explained (with the help of the other people present, bless them, who agreed that my complexion looked the same as it always does) that I was feeling perfectly OK, thanks, but, like many other redheads, I have very pale skin, and that this is how it looks.
My questioner was not to be appeased, though.
“You really don’t look well at all,” she told me. And then, addressing the room at large, “She’d look a lot better with some colour in her cheeks.” (I was wearing my usual makeup, including blusher) at the time. “I’d like her better with some colour.”
Now, as some of you know, I am not ashamed of my pale skin. I firmly believe that pale skin can be just as beautiful as any other shade, and I am not going to apologise for the face I was born with. Or, as Lady Gaga might say, “I was born this way, baby!”
With all of that said, there’s no denying that I was stung by this woman’s comments, as I always am when someone tells me that my natural skin colour is unattractive or, in this case, makes me look “ill”. I don’t expect any healthy person enjoys being told that, do they? Because saying someone “looks ill” is just another way of saying they look BAD. Unless you know a person very well (or they’ve told you that they actually ARE ill), I think it’s one of those things that are best left unsaid. Never ask someone if they’re pregnant unless you can see the baby crowning, and never tell someone they look ill unless the ambulance is on the way, or you’re sitting by their bedside. Some free Dollface advice for you, there.
Over the next few days, then, I found myself looking at myself even more critically than I normally do, and I had to acknowledge that while I don’t think I looked ill, I am certainly much paler at this time of year than I am during summer, say. This is something that always happens to me in winter. I wear sunblock all year round, but in Spring and Summer I find that my freckles will darken just from being in the sun, which gives me the appearance of “having a bit more colour” as my new friend would say. By January, however, I haven’t seen the sun for such a long time that my freckles fade completely and my face becomes almost paper white (er, not exactly, obviously, but you know what I mean) without so much of a hint of natural colour.
When that happens, my usual makeup just doesn’t cut it any more, so I dug around in my beauty box, and I came up with this:
NARS Iluminator, in ‘Orgasm’. As you may remember, I received this as part of a complimentary Glossybox a while back. After my initial experiments with it, though, I found I didn’t use it much, because it wasn’t particularly visible on my skin. That was back in August, though, and I’d had three weeks in the California sun, plus the “best” of the UK summer. Now that I’ve tried it again on my much paler face, I have to retract my original comments on this. Yes, it’s still very subtle. No, it doesn’t create the kind of difference that makes you go OMGLOVE! But, having been wearing it all over my face (with the exception of my forehead, which really doesn’t need to look any shinier, thanks, and is mostly hidden by my fringe anyway), I find that it does take the edge of my pallor, and gives me a slightly healthier “glow”, as much as I hate that word.
I’ve moved this from “occasional use, only when I remember it” to “daily essential”. For now, at least. Next time I see that particular acquaintance, I may just let my pale flag fly!