Ask Avery: See beyond the pale
blog by Avery Hartmans • January 11, 2013 @ 9:19am
I’m a pretty fair skinned individual and seeing as it’s January in Buffalo, I’m at my palest right now. What can I do to not look so, for lack of a better word, sickly? Every time I see a picture of myself I’m not happy. What colors should I avoid and what will distract people from my scary skin tone?
I’m not sure if this is a widely recognized fact, but I firmly believe I am the palest girl in Buffalo. And come to think of it, when I head back to Syracuse, I will probably take the top prize there as well, which makes me the palest girl in the upstate New York region. Not that I’m bragging or anything.
But since I have never once visited a tanning bed to alter my ghostly circumstances, my forays into gradual self-tanning lotion only end in orange-tinted knuckles and my college student budget doesn’t allow for weekly spray tans, I have been forced to accept my translucent pigmentation. Damn you, Irish-German-Dutch heritage.
Because I acknowledged that I’m pale a long time ago — and acceptance is the first step toward dealing with your lack of pigmentation — I’ve had plenty of Buffalo winters to contemplate how best to fool people into thinking I’m at least somewhat attractive during the colder months. This contemplation was obviously done indoors in a darkened room, however, because my fellow ghosts know that even the reflection of the sun off the snow can cause sunburn. We learned the hard way.
I think I should make it clear that regardless of the tips I provide, you’re still not going to have the perfect sun-kissed skin of Gisele Bundchen. I should also mention that although most guys pretend not to care about being pale or being tan, we’ve all known of a few closeted tanning bed fanatics. So guys, these few tips apply to you too.
For starters, stop wearing taupe, nude, cream, ivory, sand, eggshell, ecru or any other miscellaneous and likely made up shade of white. Light colors have a major effect on your skin tone; they’ll set off a tan like no other in July, but come January they are your mortal enemy, Pale Ones. Think you can slip one by me and wear pale pink? Guess again. Best case scenario, you’ll look naked. Worst case scenario, you’ll look like Typhoid Mary post-mortem. And if you caught spring fever and thought now would be a great time to wear your favorite yellow shirt — an oxymoron in and of itself — you are sadly mistaken. Unless the look you were going for was “jaundiced.”
So what should you be wearing? This may seem obvious, but dark colors are the way to go. The contrast between a forest green shirt and vanilla skin will seem harsh, but people who look at you won’t really have any other color to compare your skin to. If you’re wearing off-white, however, people will just give you searching looks, trying to distinguish where your shirt ends and your skin begins. So stick with jewel tones and darker shades — navy, green, purple and black are your friends here. And try to avoid warmer colors like red, pink and orange, as they’ll bring out the rosy undertones to your skin in a pretty unflattering way.
Your next order of business is to start moisturizing. And I don’t mind using a little hand lotion when you think of it, I mean intense, hardcore moisturizing. For girls, stock up on tinted moisturizer that matches the skin tone on your neck, since that area receives even less light than your face and is closest to your true skin color. I swear, they actually make beauty products that pale. For guys, find an unscented facial moisturizer that won’t irritate your skin.
For the rest of your body — and I mean everywhere you can comfortably reach and for the places you can’t, call a friend — any lotion labeled “moisture therapy” or “intense moisture,” or anything infused with cocoa butter, will do the trick. Why all the lotion? Because pale, soft skin looks 100 percent better than pale, dry skin — just because you’re the color of computer paper doesn’t mean your skin has to feel like it. If your skin has a healthy, moisturized glow, you’ll feel hotter, regardless of how translucent you are. I promise this will help, as long as you aren’t too turned off by how many times I used the word “moist.”
Your next task may seem backward since we’ve all heard that UV rays are the enemy, but spend some time outside — wearing sunscreen, of course. Your skin becomes vitamin D deficient during the winter months and craves a little sunlight. Just take it easy and at least slather on some SPF 15 before you take a walk on a sunny day — a sunburn is never what the doctor ordered. Or, if you’re truly a nightwalker and can’t come out between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., pick up a vitamin D supplement at the drugstore. Healthy skin is more important than anything else.
In the end, however, your skin tone is basically unchangeable and you shouldn’t stress about it. Sure, being able to count each vein and capillary isn’t that cool, but you’re beautiful in your own special way. Unless you’re truly unattractive, in which case you’re beyond my power to help. Best of luck, pale brethren.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.