The Panel: Paleface
Given that, for the most part, the Irish complexion ranges from tones of blue-white through to pale pink to barely sallow, it's surprising how the sales of foundation suggest otherwise.
The leading cosmetic houses will testify that their biggest-selling shades of foundation in this country strike more of a California-tan note, so tempting Irish women away from what we clearly perceive as a year-round healthy glow is no small task.
Admittedly, we're not as bad as we used to be but, given the abundance of really good, varied shades of pale out there, we should endeavour to enhance our inner porcelain doll, instead of erasing her with a brown mask and that unattractive, tell-tale tidemark between the neck and jawline. These days, there are so many different formulations of foundation one can barely keep up, however, not all excel at offering a range of fair options that take into account the variations that exist from one pale-skinned person to the next.
This is our round-up of the best we tried -- both in terms of colour and consistency.
Bobbi Brown Natural Finish Long Lasting Foundation SPF 15, €38, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Bobbi Brown offers a fantastic selection of shades across all its foundations and this new, semi-sheer, oil-free formulation is no exception, offering 16 different shades, four of which fall into the pale range. "I liked the finish of this foundation," said a panellist, "and the colour was nicely neutral, unlike some other brands, which don't seem to take into account skin types that go nearly blue in winter."
Best Sheer Alabaster
Dr Hauschka Translucent Make-Up, €22.22, selected department stores, health stores and pharmacies nationwide, or see www.drhauschkaireland.ie
Almost a tinted moisturiser, but not quite. The pigment is sufficiently intense to provide coverage, but it's not too heavy. A nice choice for those who favour an un-made-up make-up look. "I don't like a full-foundation look," a panellist said, "but I like something to even out my skin and this was a great match for my pale skin, as a lot of more sheer products tend to be too warm-toned."
Best Pale Coverage
Clarins Everlasting Foundation, €29, Clarins counters nationwide
At first, this foundation goes on a bit mask-like, but it blends beautifully into either light or full coverage. Available in seven shades, three of which would suit seasonally pale skintones, it's a good option for full-foundation lovers who are wary of looking waxy in winter. "This is a really grown-up make-up, but, saying that, it's not at all heavy," one panellist said. "And I liked how there were nuances of nude in the pale shades and not just one idea of what pale means."
Best Nude Glow
Lancome Teint Miracle, €35.50, Lancome counters nationwide
There is such a thing as glow without going golden, and this foundation is testimony to that. A new addition to the Lancome range, promising, and delivering, a glowy finish, which is not at all disco-ball sparkly. The three palest shades cover the snow-white, pink and yellow undertones that comprise the pale spectrum. "One of those lit-from-within products that actually delivers," said a panellist, "It was a revelation to me that you can play up your paleness and not look half-dead."
Best Fair Finish
Clinique Superbalanced Makeup, €28, Clinique counters nationwide
Boasting technology that both absorbs oil and moisturises, this make-up will not react with skin oils and turn a much darker shade than what's in the bottle, as is often the case with foundations. It's available in a broad choice of 17 shades. "The colour stayed true, my T-zone stayed matt for an impressive number of hours and I didn't look caked, even when I touched up at lunchtime," one panellist said. "I look polished, but not plastered in it."
Pictured, from left: Lancome Teint Miracle; Bobbi Brown Natural Finish Long Lasting Foundation SPF 15; Clinique Superbalanced Makeup; Dr Hauschka Translucent Make-Up; Clarins Everlasting Foundation