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Beyond the pale

If there's one thing the cynic in me has noted about Tim Burton's record-smashing cinema hit Alice In Wonderland, it's the power of cross-marketing.

Way beyond the cashing-in we saw with the Sex and the City movie, everybody from beauty brands to fashion designers, jewellers and even car manufacturers have clamoured to get on board the Alice bandwagon in the hopes of making a few quid. It's got to the point where I'm so sick of the whole hoopla that I feel like drinking a bottle of vanishing potion in the hope that it all goes away, quick-smart.

In fact, at this point the only thing that actually appeals about the film is how it's heralding off-beat beauty or, more specifically, the move away from tango tans towards pale and interesting.

The look has been making a foray into the mainstream for a wee while now, most notably championed by Girls Aloud's pale-and-proud Nicola Roberts and Dita Von Teese, both of whom embrace and celebrate their lily-white complexions.

Anne Hathaway's recent GQ cover proves that life imitates art: her icy turn as the film's White Queen -- a creation of even-toned alabaster skin and flaxen hair --is influencing her look off-screen as well. Alice herself, played by Mia Wasikowska, is pretty good at channelling a milk bottle too, as it happens.

I'm a gal who refuses to fake it, so I'm delighted that my skin's natural state is finally something to be coveted. There is a bit of a problem, though: lots of us on this sun-starved island are naturally very pale. We have a classic Irish- rose complexion that looks like fine-textured smooth porcelain when it's behaving itself . . . and prone to rosacea and uneven tone when it's not.

And therein lies the rub: no one has flawless skin, which is the big appeal of fake-tanning products. Providing a camouflaging, flattering layer over corned-beef legs and blotchy arms, sunless tanner covers a multitude. You just can't say the same for pasty chicken-skin ham-hocks that have been trussed up in black opaques all winter.

Sure, you can hope that when the 60 deniers come off for our two-week summer your skin will miraculously look great, but the reality is that Dita Von Teese and Nicola Roberts did not get their smooth legs and blotch-free decolletages without a little help. Call it reverse fake tan if you will, but it's a dead cert these ladies, (or their make-up artists) have a few fail-safes in their cosmetic caches to help smooth things out a little. Fancy finding out how you can replicate the pale and interesting look for yourself? Here are a few tricks of the trade.

For face

There's no need to go all Queen Elizabeth I and concoct toxic potions of egg wash, nightingale droppings and lead to get that oh-so-glam porcelain finish (which might finish you off), because while the pale and interesting aren't that well catered for across mainstream brands, if you know where to look you'll find products to suit.

As a rule, Irish ladies who don't fit the 'beige' profile beloved of foundation formulators should look to brands such as Nars, Giorgio Armani and Make Up For Ever, all of which cater for pale skins. Also look out for foundations from counter-culture brand Illamasqua, at BT2 Grafton Street. With a palette of colours that begins at white, there really is one for everyone. Check out Illamasqua Light Liquid Foundation, €24, (left) for a shade that'll suit.

Just because you're pale doesn't mean you don't need concealer -- everyone has a little blemish or dark circle they need to cover up. Dainty Doll Concealer by Nicola Roberts, €9.79, (right) from www.ASOS.com, is ideal. In two pale shades, it was designed by the Girls Aloud singer herself for those with alabaster skintones. And equally, you also need some blusher, because once you've evened-out your lovely pale skin with a matching base, you do need to add some colour back where it'd naturally be. Revlon Matte Powder Blush in Blushing Berry, €11, (left) is a good pick. Medium-pigmented, there are no distracting sparkles, it's nicely textured and adds a realistic, not hectic-looking, wash of colour that'll liven up what would otherwise be an anaemic look. At larger Boots and Debenhams branches.

Lastly, highlighters are great for pale girls, helping to add a dewy appearance to skin. My pick is always Guerlain's Meteorites range of shimmery goodness. Guerlain Meteorite Poudre de Perles, €63.73, (right) is pricey, but really enhances snow-white complexions and lasts for absolutely ages too. Find it at Arnotts and House of Fraser, Dundrum.

For body

For a smoothed-out, reverse-fake-tanned look, it's got to be Mac Face and Body Foundation, €36, (right) to the rescue, ladies. This generously sized 120ml bottle of touch-proof make-up is what the Baywatch babes used and is a staple in the kit of any make-up artist worth their salt. Providing sheer, buildable coverage, it's ideal as a face foundation for the clear-skinned and, on the body, provides a veil of cover that's just enough to even out tone and give a pulled-together, smooth finish to chest, arms and legs. It's reasonably smudge-proof and can be applied with a brush, sponge or fingers. In 13 shades, check out the two palest, C1 and N1, and if you happen to be in London, pop into Mac's Pro store in Soho, where it's available in pure white, too.

To accentuate white skin, Illamasqua will launch Illumine Dry Body Oil, €35, (left) in April. The Volt option with blue reflects an iridescent shimmer and will play up paleness beautifully. And if you're on a budget, you can mix some foundation with a body lotion to add a veil of colour -- but beware, it won't be touch-proof and may come off on clothes.

For nails

Nails are, as Hansel from Zoolander would say, "so hot right now". Salon brand OPI cashed in with an Alice-inspired line, which works pretty well on pale-skinned ladies. Those on-trend nudes, beiges and pale greens can make your paws look cadaver-fresh, so go for bright, clear shades for maximum impact. OPI Off With Her Red (above right) and Mad as a Hatter (left), €15 each, shades are particularly flattering. You'll find them at salons. Good budget dupes can be found from brands such as Mavala, Essence and Gosh. I particularly like on-trend Gosh Peachy, €8.50 (right). Ideal for a pop of colour on pale hands, you'll get it at Awear stores and pharmacies.