Ten useful facts about looking after fair skin types
The Celtic pale and interesting look is attractive, but imperfections are more noticeable with this skin type that carries a higher risk of sunburn. Here, Vicki Notaro offers tips to help manage a delicate complexion.
Northern Irish skin - pale and more likely to be sensitive, is wonderful when it's in good nick. But if you're wondering how to manage your porcelain complexion, this is what you need to know.
1. The fairest of them all
"The most common skin type among Northern Irish women is categorised in dermatology terms as Fitzpatrick's type 1-2," explains Selene Daly, dermatology clinical nurse specialist working with skincare brand Elave. "This is skin that burns easily in the sun, freckles and is light in colour."
Pale people are therefore predisposed to more skin conditions.
2. Everybody wants it
Throughout her career, Selene has found that our complexion is in fact coveted abroad. "It's said that our Korean counterparts have a 17-step skincare routine in an attempt to gain translucent, clear skin," she says.
3. High risk of cancer
Pale skin is more at risk of skin cancer. "Most skin cancers occur on the face, ears, neck, arms and lower legs, and over 90% of skin cancer is caused by overexposure to UV light which can occur from the sun or sunbeds," says Selene.
Detection is key with any kind of cancer, so if you've noticed any unusual changes in your skin, do get it checked out by your GP. Melanoma, or a cancerous mole, is a very common type, but skin cancer is not restricted to just your moles.
4. No sunbeds
By now, everyone should know that using a sunbed is risky business when it comes to your health.
But a lot of people seem to think that getting a "base" colour before holidays by using one of these machines is better than baring your pale, underexposed skin to the foreign sun.
In fact, according to research, 12% think it is safe to go out in the sun without protection if already tanned. Not true.
5. Wear sunscreen
Fair people need to wear sunscreen most of the year. "The most important part of any skincare routine should be daily use of sunscreen between the March 1 and the September 30 - regardless of the weather," says Selene.
"This is the season where UV levels are at their highest, increasing the chance of burning."
It might seem like an awful lot of hassle, but sun creams and oils are a lot more sophisticated now, and instead of sitting on your skin in a white, gloopy mess, they can hydrate and even improve the look of your skin.
Buying a daily moisturiser and foundation that includes SPF is an easy way to make sure your face is protected at all times.
6. We are prone to rosacea
Anyone with pale skin knows that redness shows up far more easily on fair skin, and can often lead to skin looking discoloured.
CC (colour correcting) creams have become popular here as they help balance out the skin tone, but if you have a condition like rosacea, it can be a little more tricky to manage flare-ups.
"Known as the curse of the Celts, rosacea is an extremely common skin condition," explains Selene.
"Rosacea tends to affect the cheeks, forehead, chin and nose, and is characterised by redness, dilated blood vessels, also known as telengectasia, small red bumps and on occasion pus-filled spots often with a tendency to blush easily.
"Triggers for rosacea include spicy foods, alcohol, moving from cold to hot temperatures and exposure to UV light."
7. Watch what you eat
We're known for not having the healthiest of diets. A bad diet can mean unhealthy skin, and fair skin is susceptible to flare-ups. If you're suddenly suffering from eczema, psoriasis, adult acne or hyperpigmentation, a blood test can determine if you have any intolerances.
8. Beware of free radicals
We need to watch out for free radicals. "Free radical activity is responsible for many undesirable skin changes, including photo damage lines, wrinkles and skin cancer. It's caused primarily by overexposure to UV light and pollutants such as smoking and environment," explains Selene. "Using an antioxidant with a concentrated vitamin C base can protect against free radicals."
9. Dry, sensitive or oily?
"It's so important to know your baseline, whether you have dry, sensitive, combination or oily skin, so an effective skincare routine can be formulated."
Whether you visit a dermatologist or a beauty counter, a trained professional will be able to establish your skin type and recommend products to suit it. Oily skin may feel greasy but it still needs hydration, while combination skin means different areas of the face may need to be treated differently.
10. Read the ingredients
If you've got eczema or psoriasis, read the ingredients on your skincare packaging as you would on food labels. "Try to select products which have little or no preservatives, because these can trigger eczematous reactions even in people without a history of sensitive skin," says Selene. If you're worried about sensitivity, go for the most natural products possible.