Skin Camouflage for Vitiligo

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What is skin camouflage for vitiligo?

Skin camouflage for vitiligo is designed to replicate the colour of non-vitiligo skin by applying special products over vitiligo patches. Some different products and methods of skin camouflage include using makeup, medical tattoos, fake tanner, and skin staining pens.

It’s important to remember that skin camouflage is not a medicine, or cure for vitiligo, the structure of your skin and your vitiligo will stay the same.

Is vitiligo camouflage right for me?

Anyone with vitiligo that is interested in skin camouflage can ask their health care provider for a referral to a skin camouflage specialist. At your consultation, you will be guided through a process to choose the best product suitable for your skin and lifestyle.

If your vitiligo is affecting your overall quality of life or confidence, we recommend reaching out to your health care provider about a referral.

Vitiligo Camouflage Cover Up Products & Makeup Brands

It’s important to remember that different brands of skin camouflage have different textures, consistencies and sun-protection properties and some may stay on the skin longer than others. This means that one brand may be better suited to your skin than another.

© BASC using the palm as a bowl, two skin camouflage colours mixed to create an acceptable skin match

It is best to achieve a skin-match using just one colour, but should that not be realised, then BASC suggest that no more than two colours be mixed together.

Brands currently available on NHS prescription are:

  • Covermark: 20 skin-match colours plus 1 powder
  • Dermacolor: 250+ skin-match colours plus 8 powder
  • Keromask: 21 skin-match colours plus 4 powders
  • Veil: 40 skin-match colours plus 2 powders

There are other skin camouflage products available from the internet and over the counter in department stores, supermarkets and chemist shops. These may give an identical outcome to those listed on prescription above, but you really need to assess the colours on your skin before buying. It may be inconvenient or embarrassing for you to try such tests in the department store, supermarket or chemist; plus, ideally skin camouflage should be viewed in natural daylight – if the skin-match colour is acceptable in daylight, then it will be good in artificial lighting too.

Cream and liquid skin camouflage is usually set (stabilised) with loose powder; this will not be required with brands that are highly-pigmented powders or liquids that do not contain oil or wax.

There is a vast range of skin-match colours available and this can be overwhelming making it difficult for you to find an acceptable colour without the help of a trained skin camouflage practitioner.

© BASC sample palettes from the four prescription brands’ – these are available to skin camouflage practitioners

Check out our video of Nina Brown, Camouflage Practitioner at Changing Faces & Beauty Therapist, talking about the different vitiligo camouflage and coverage techniques available.

Vitiligo Camouflage Makeup Application Best Practices

Vitiligo camouflage application should be quick and easy to do – as simple as A B C! It should only add just a few minutes to your usual hygiene routine.

We’ve included our best tips below on how to cover vitiligo with makeup:

  • A little product goes a long way!
  • Always wash your hands before and after application,
  • Ensure that any applicator is clean and ready for use.
  • Decant your skin camouflage product onto the palm of your hand before application to warm the product making it easier to apply.

The easiest and quickest way to apply your camouflage is with your clean finger-tips.

© BASC – application using finger tips  

Then, follow up by setting your makeup with a soft puff or blender.

© BASC – setting the skin camouflage with loose powder and a powder-puff  

When necessary, remove excess power with a soft brush.

© BASC a “blusher” brush or a soft “shaving” brush can be used  

When correctly applied, skin camouflage should not be noticeable.

© BASC – after application  

For hygienic reasons, it is recommended that camouflage is removed daily and the skin is cleansed, but camouflage products can be immediately reapplied. There is no current evidence that skin camouflage creams encourage spots or damage the skin.

Spray Tan To Cover Vitiligo

Another common question we see asked is “will spray tan cover vitiligo?” Fake tans change the colour of the outermost layer of the skin. They can be used instead of skin camouflage, or in addition to it, on different parts of the body.

Fake tans have some advantages over skin camouflage:

  • They last longer (four to six days) before they have to be reapplied.
  • They do not rub off on clothing.
  • They are very useful for large areas of vitiligo and areas where cosmetic camouflage is less effective, such as the back of the hands.
  • They are easily available in supermarkets, chemists etc.

However, fake tans are not usually able to provide a perfect match with your own skin colour (unlike skin camouflage). They are not available for all skin tones as there is no fake tan yet to match dark brown skin. It’s also important to note that fake tans are not available on prescription.

Vitiligo Camouflage Fake Tan Application Best Practices

We recommend following the instructions on the product, but in general the following steps will ensure that you get good results:

  • If possible, try the product out first on a test patch.
  • Rub the area to be tanned with a cloth, brush etc. to remove surface dry skin cells so the lotion will take better.
  • Make sure your skin is moisturised before applying the tanning lotion.
  • After moisturising, wait a few minutes before applying the lotion evenly.
  • Use less lotion on knees, elbows and feet, where more colour tends to be absorbed.
  • Wear loose, minimal clothing until the lotion is dry, to avoid staining.
  • Keep cool when applying the lotion and for several hours afterwards as excessive perspiration will cause streaking.

You can also seek out a local beautician to apply fake tan. Your high street beauty salon may provide this service, which will include a patch test for colour outcome and test for allergic reaction. The fake tan is usually applied using an air-brush in a well ventilated room, or manually (as mentioned above).

How to remove skin camouflage?

You should remove your skin camouflage each day, this will enable you to inspect for any changes to your skin and to apply sunblock, moisturiser or medication.

Soap and water (or a soap substitute, such as a cosmetic cleansing lotion) are used to effectively and quickly remove your camouflage on a daily basis. Apply and remove the cleansing product in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

© BASC – vitiligo to both hands; skin camouflage removed with soap and water to right hand only  

Skin camouflage is usually considered to be waterproof – which means you may get wet without it washing off. However, no product should be considered fully rub-proof – so you will need to pat dry (not towel rub) your skin after swimming, or showering after exercise.

What products will easily remove skin camouflage?

Any cream, gel or oil will remove the camouflage – especially so when a moisturising product is combined with therapeutic massage. Hand sanitizing products will also remove the camouflage.

Camouflage is difficult to remove from head-hair, so care needs to be taken when working close to the hairline. It is easily brushed off from facial hair (eyebrow, beard, moustache) and hair to limbs and body.

Other Methods Of Skin Camouflage

We’ve included some other methods of skin camouflage for vitiligo below:

1. Skin Staining Pens For Vitiligo

A firm called Magic Styl’o produces a semi-permanent, water-based pen which can be used for colouring small areas of skin or hair, for example on finger tips, lips or eyebrows. The pens are easy to use and, like fake tans, the colour does not rub off.

There is a range of colours available, including three different shades of brown, but you are unlikely to get as good a colour match as you can with camouflage.

In the UK these products are obtainable from Dawn Cragg at:

St Michael’s Place
58a Bridgegate
DN22 7UZ.
Tel: 01777 860500

More information is available on their website: Click Here

2. Medical Tattooing For Vitiligo

Tattooing means injecting a colour into the dermis – as such the dermis encapsulates the product to prevent it migrating through the skin to the lymphatic system before being expelled by natural bodily function.

Insurance will be invalidated if a patch test is not undertaken each time a tattoo is created. Tattooing is not suitable for everyone, nor is it advisable over all skin conditions.

Medical Tattooing is usually undertaken within a hospital or clinic environment by a medical professional who is highly trained in this specialism. Medical tattooing is required for the purpose of reconstruction, such as creating a patient’s areola following a total mastectomy, or replacing brows and lips that have been removed due to surgery or an accident.

Medical Tattooing should not be confused with Micropigmentation and Permanent Makeup undertaken in a salon or clinic by highly trained technicians for their client’s elected cosmetic reason, such as creating a fashionable brow, or lipstick colour to the mouth, or to change the colour an areola. The above technicians will use inks that are semi-permanent, which differ considerably from tattoo inks used by decorative tattoo artists.

At present tattooing is a self-regulated profession, unfortunately the inks used are not judged to be medical appliances and are therefore outside medical regulations; neither are they considered to be cosmetics because they are inserted into the dermis and therefore are outside cosmetic and toiletry regulations.

All tattoos will fade when exposed to sunlight over time. Semi-permanent inks can last up to about a year before the need to re-tattoo.

It is essential that medical tattooing is done by a specialist technician who is well trained and has experience.

Skin Camouflage Organizations & Services

There is currently only one organisation to offer information and advice on skin camouflage in the UK, but there is a growing number of makeup artists and beauty therapists learning to cover vitiligo.

1. Changing Faces

Changing Faces offers a skin camouflage consultation service for people in England and Scotland, run by trained volunteers. The volunteers select the best colour match for each person’s natural skin tone and then teach people how to apply the products. The service is free, but donations are requested. It is available to people with vitiligo by referral through their GP or dermatologist and self referral is available in certain areas – check the website for up to date information. Only prescribable skin camouflage products are used.

Tel: 0300 012 0276

2. Makeup Artists & Beauty Therapists

Makeup artists and beauty therapists may include skin camouflage within their further education studies; your local pharmacist, dentist, podiatrist or aesthetic salon may also provide consultations.

Check your local social media platforms for their contact details!

Best Practices For Vitiligo Camouflage

  • Store vitiligo products out of direct sunlight: when summer arrives there is no need to store your skin camouflage creams in the fridge. However, as with all topical medications, skin camouflage, cosmetics and toiletries it is better to store them away from direct sunlight. If you are visiting a country where the temperature makes the camouflage creams melt, don’t worry, store them out of the sun and just give them a gentle stir if they begin to separate. The cremes will soon solidify once back in a cooler environment.
  • Check vitiligo camouflage product ingredients: prior to purchasing any item, you are strongly advised to check the ingredient list for your medically confirmed allergic reaction, or to an intolerance or for a personal preference. Some skin camouflage products may be very stable and durable, but require the addition of medical alcohol to apply and remove them – this may be acceptable to finger tips, but not advisable to be used on the face. There are a few over the counter brands that promote themselves as being Halal, Vegetarian or Vegan makeup and toiletries.
  • Be aware of fragrances: some fragrances are used for their soothing and medicinal properties but it may also photosensitive skin, which means they may increase the potential for sunburn. So, if you like fragrances such as lavender in your aftershave, perfume, toilet soap or any preparation you apply to your skin then, just be cautious during the summer months and be aware of this potential problem to vitiligo skin.
  • Be wary of using fake tans: they don’t really give a good skin match, do they! But, they can be used to great effect to create a less noticeable difference to your normal skin colour and your vitiligo patches, especially to areas of skin where your skin camouflage may easily rub or wash off.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do skin camouflage products have to meet specific regulations?

Any product made or sold within Great Britain and Northern Ireland from January 2021 must comply with the post Brexit UK Amendments to the requirements of the EU Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations (2008) as “amended-amended-amended” since 1996. Vital information includes a list of ingredients (displayed on the packaging) and products must include a shelf life or “use before” date.

Products that are made and/or sold outside the United States of Europe (i.e. global sales) normally meet the USA’s Food, Drug & Cosmetic Administration (FDC) requirements too.

What happens at a consultation for skin camouflage?

At a consultation for skin camouflage, a trained skin camouflage practitioner will discuss with you which product may be best suited to your skin and your lifestyle, and empowers you to make choices. The practitioner will apply a very small amount to your vitiligo, and if this is not acceptable to you, it is removed and another one applied, until you decide which one you prefer.

Application techniques are then discussed; once your preference is known, the practitioner will demonstrate that application process (including setting the camouflage with loose powder) to a small area of your vitiligo. You will then be invited to demonstrate back that you understand the application and removal processes, including hygienic practices.

The consultation will also include on how to manage your camouflage during wear, what may go under and over the set camouflage, and how to quickly and effectively remove it each night.

The practitioner will advise on how to obtain your selected camouflage and any applicator that you need to use.

Usually an instruction sheet to remind you of the consultation is handed to you to take away. The sheet will include the camouflage products’ brand name, colour code and quantity needed.

Your consultation may take up to one hour, one visit is usually sufficient but you may need another should there be a seasonal alternation to the colour of your unaffected skin.

If you want to attend a free NHS clinic, then your medical adviser (Dermatologist, GP or Nurse) will need to refer you to the hospital clinic. You can refer yourself to a private clinic, but you may have to pay a consultation fee.

How can I keep my skin camouflage to last longer on my skin?

Do you need camouflage to have a semi matte or glossy finish to last throughout the day? Are you having trouble getting your camouflage to stay on? Try a fixing spray (available from theatrical suppliers) such as Kryolan’s Fixier. If you set your camouflage first with powder, the Fixier will increase its stability.

You can use these sprays as a skin primer and then apply your camouflage, or apply your camouflage in the normal way and then double-set it with the spray. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions, as a rule of thumb never aerosol the face directly, always spray into your palm and pick up the product with a non-latex wedge and pat it to where it’s required (you can spray directly onto limbs and trunk). However, fixing sprays usually give the camouflage a semi-matte finish (subsequent layers will increase this to full gloss). If you don’t want a natural sheen, then simply re-powder over the fixing spray.

Another good skin primer is Kryolan’s Invisible Matte (available as a spray, gel or creme) applied under the camouflage. This product is available from theatrical make-up shops. Invisible Matte is also used for anti-shine; the gel and creme being applied under the camouflage with the spray being applied over the top of camouflage.

An alternative to using Invisible Matte, try a setting powder that is not talc or mineral based such as Kryolan’s Anti-Shine powder (rice based) which is available from theatrical make-up shops. Some of the loose face powders which are made from cornstarch and nut kernels, available from most chemists and supermarkets, also work reasonably well at keeping the camouflaged area matte.

Can you use airbrush products to cover vitiligo?

Airbrush foundation products can be considered as highly pigmented liquids that set matte on the skin (no need to powder) but more importantly can be used without the airbrushing equipment.

However, you will need to work quickly as they are set almost on contact with the skin (the silicone based products allow slightly longer setting time). You can mix two colours together (decant into a clean container) to create a more acceptable skin match.

These products are easy to apply using a cosmetic sponge, but clean fingers do just as well. Fixing sprays can be applied over the top, and will give semi-matte to gloss finish too. These products are available from theatrical retailers, some department stores and beauty salons — best to practice on non-visible areas first!

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