Style Beauty

Monday 27 January 2020

Beauty 101: How to properly care for porcelain Irish complexions

Photo: Campaign image, Aveeno skincare
Photo: Campaign image, Aveeno skincare
Gift set, €4.99, Aldi stores nationwide
Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturising Lotion with Oatmeal, €8.50
The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops Lightening
L'Occitane Divine Eye Balm
Elave Sensitive Duo - Sensitive Skin Hydrating Essentials Intensive Moisture Surge and Hydrating Cream Cleanser
Eucerin Ultra Sensitive Care
Joanna Gardiner is CEO Elave Sensitive Skincare
La Roche Posay Micellar Water Ultra Soothing
Molton and Brown handwash, €21
Skin Ceuticals Mineral Radiance UV Defense

The red carpet at this year's Oscars was jam-packed with stars embracing their naturally pale complexions and titian-toned hair - Emma Stone, Emma Roberts, Isabelle Huppert and Nicole Kidman being my favourites.

We have our own bevy of homegrown beauties with Celtic colouring - from Saoirse Ronan to Angela Scanlon - and research has shown that 80pc of us in Ireland have pale, porcelain skin (described as Fitzpatrick skin type 1 and 2).

We may bemoan our lack of Brazilian-bronzed babe status, but while we're busy layering on the fake tan (we are the highest users in the world, per capita), there are millions of women across the globe equally busy applying skin-bleaching products.

So, ladies, it's time to take pride and showcase our Celtic colouring! Read on for some Irish skin and hair saviours...

Treat vs cheat

Molton Brown Pink Pepperpot Wash

Molton and Brown handwash, €21

This hand and body wash is gorgeously scented and a pretty addition to the bathroom, from department stores and pharmacies nationwide


Abbot & Broome Pink Pepperpot Luxurious Wash

Gift set, €4.99, Aldi stores nationwide

If your budget can't stretch that far, check out this gift set at Aldi stores nationwide

6 of the best products for Irish skin

Best eye cream/mask

L'Occitane Divine Eye Balm

Pale Irish skin can be very dry so, to soften those crow's feet, try L'Occitane Divine Eye Balm. With shea butter, floral extracts, rosewater and aescin, this can be used as your daily eye cream, but I use it as a mask once a week. Apply, leave to absorb for 20 minutes, then gently dab away the excess. From €67 at L'Occitane stores and pharmacies nationwide.

Best SPF

Skin Ceuticals Mineral Radiance UV Defense

This SPF is that very-hard-to-find mix of high broad-spectrum SPF that actually doesn't go ghostly white under make-up, take half an hour to absorb into your skin or sting your eyes! SkinCeuticals Mineral Radiance UV Defense SPF 50 is priced from €42 at selected salons nationwide or

Best foundation fixer for pale skin

The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops Lightening

If you just can't justify forking out for more foundations when you've a rake of them rattling around your bathroom cabinet - but none are quite the right shade for your pale skin - then follow model Sarah Tansey's trick and invest in The Body Shop Lightening Shade Adjusting Drops for €17. One drop into your foundation will lighten it by half a shade. Available from Body Shop stores nationwide.

Best cleanser

La Roche Posay Micellar Water Ultra Soothing

Sensitive skin experts La Roche-Posay have just launched their new Micellar Water Ultra cleanser. To avoid irritating sensitive Irish skin, use a cleansing method with no dragging and pulling of the skin or harsh cleaning agents. Use with cotton wool - this will cleanse without stripping or irritating your skin. Gorgeously soothing. Micellar Water Ultra is €15.50 from pharmacies nationwide.

Best for extra-sensitive skin

Eucerin Ultra Sensitive Care

If you're prone to skin irritation and rosacea (described as the Celtic curse), you have to be extra vigilant about what you use on your skin - this is a balm for inflamed skin that will soothe and calm über-sensitive complexions. Eucerin Ultra Sensitive is €20 from pharmacies nationwide.

Best chemical-free

Elave Sensitive Duo - Sensitive Skin Hydrating Essentials Intensive Moisture Surge and Hydrating Cream Cleanser

This line is a lovely discovery - I especially love their Junior range for my son. An Irish skincare company that specialises in sensitive skin, they know Irish complexions well, using no parabens, SLS, fragrances or chemical nasties. Elave Sensitive Skin Hydrating Essentials Intensive Moisture Surge and Hydrating Cream Cleanser is €25 from pharmacies nationwide.


Ask the expert

Joanna Gardiner is CEO Elave Sensitive Skincare

Joanna Gardiner is CEO of Elave­ ­Sensitive Skincare

How much of the ­population have 'Celtic colouring'?

We don't know for sure but we estimate that 80-90pc of the population have what is described as Fitzpatrick skin type 1 and 2. What's interesting is if you ask Irish people what skin type they have, most of them believe they have types 2 or 3 so there is a disconnect between how people think they tan and how they actually tan, i.e. burn.

What are some of the skincare issues that can arise from having pale skin?

Skin cancer is the most obvious one, as we Irish have a very low tolerance of UV exposure. Despite the fact that we don't believe we get a lot of sun in Ireland, we now have the highest reported incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer in Europe, so wearing SPF is essential as part of a daily skincare routine.

Pale skin in Fitzpatrick type 1 or 2 is generally sensitive and reactive. It can be a heat-related rash in the sun right through to general sensitivity to fabrics and skincare ­products. Overall, pale-skinned people are sensitive souls.

Facial redness, including the condition rosacea, is a common rash that predominately affects fair-skinned people from their 30s onwards. It's characterised by redness, dilated blood vessels and can sometimes contain small spots known as acne rosacea.

Melasma is another skin condition that can affect all skin types, but that is again more obvious with pale skin. It's a common skin condition in which light to dark brown or greyish pigmentation develops typically on the cheeks, forehead, chin and nose.

What's the most common mistake women with pale complexions make with their skincare?

The single most common mistake is not wearing a daily SPF of 45+. Many women with Fitzpatrick types 1 and 2 believe that they can tan their face naturally in the sun, but these skin types do not tan, they burn. This not only greatly increases the risk of skin cancer but, from a purely aesthetic level, tanning leads to premature ageing, which speeds up the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Are there any skincare ingredients or products that are an absolute no-no?

For me, parabens (a nasty carcinogenic preservative) and sulphates, which act as harsh foaming agents in shampoo, shower gels and cleansers that take away the natural oils in your skin and upset the skin barrier.

What are some good ingredients to look out for?

I think sensitive skin has as much right to the age-delay ingredients that really work, like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and glycolic acid - but make sure you choose a sensitive formulation without chemical overload to get the age-defying benefits and not a red-skin reaction.

If there was one thing you would stress to women with Celtic colouring to do in their skincare routine, what would it be?

Always wear a daily SPF45+ on the face between March 1 and September 30. Not only will it protect you from sun damage and premature ageing, but it will also prevent conditions such as rosacea and melasma from worsening.

Weekend Magazine

Editors Choice

Also in this section