How do I get a consultation?
There are two organisations which offer information and advice:
The British Association of Skin Camouflage (BASC)
This organisation is an independent, non-profit making Charity that provides skin camouflage training for a range of professionals who use it. BASC graduates provide a skin matching service within the NHS and private practice. If you want to attend a free NHS clinic run by BASC trained consultants, then you will need to be referred by your medical adviser (in line with local agreements); you can refer yourself to a privately run clinic, but you may have to pay a consultation fee. Note BASC is not an employer. There is a vast range of pre-mixed skin-coloured products available which may be obtained in line with local agreements; in addition, BASC uses a wider range of products and processes to achieve effective skin camouflage. During your consultation you will be guided through the selection process for the product best suited for your lifestyle, taught how to apply, manage and remove your skin camouflage.
This organisation offers a skin camouflage consultation service, run by trained volunteers (until recently it was run by the Red Cross). 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.
Skin camouflage products
Skin camouflage products mask the white patches and, when correctly applied, are waterproof, which means you can get wet without it washing off. They also have sun screening properties, although no skin camouflage should be considered a full sunblock. Camouflage can be applied over or under cosmetic foundation, make-up (which includes eyeshadow, blusher and lipstick) can be applied over the camouflage. It should stay in place for 8 to 16 hours before you need to reapply it.
Skin camouflage involves applying a cream, which is fixed by a setting powder. At present (April 2012), there are five brands available, at a doctor’s discretion, on NHS prescription. They have similar ingredients and are:
- Vichy (Dermablend) – No longer available on prescription.
These brands can also be mail-ordered directly from the UK supplier or from your chemist. There are other skin camouflage products available on the Internet and over the counter in some shops. These may give an identical outcome to those listed above, but you really need to see the colours on your skin to achieve a good skin match. This can be difficult in your local department store or chemist. Remember too that products available in the UK have to be licensed for sale and must comply with EU legislation and regulations; not all products available elsewhere carry such a safely standard.
We would suggest that you seek advice before buying these products.
Most people find the quickest and easiest way to apply their camouflage is with their fingertips but you can use a brush or cosmetic sponge if you prefer.
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 eyebrows and hairs to your limbs and body.
You then need to use a powder puff to apply the setting powder, as this will ensure that you press and roll the powder into the cream.
A cosmetic brush is a useful tool to dust off excess powder.
The setting powder will create a matt finish â€“ this may make the camouflaged area noticeable when your surrounding skin has a natural glow. The use of a fixing spray will give a semi to full glow finish.
Using a fixing spray will make the camouflage application more secure. This can be an important part of the application routine when the camouflage is used on very personal areas of the body.
When you have learned the technique of applying camouflage, it should be quick and easy to do! It should add just a few minutes to your usual hygiene routine.
You will need to learn how to maintain the camouflaged area during wear, what might accidentally remove the camouflage and how to remove the products quickly and effectively.
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.
Photographs: © The British Association of Skin Camouflage and used with their permission.
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.
- 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. There is no fake tan yet to match dark brown skin.
- Fake tans are not available on prescription.
Applying fake tans yourself:
Follow 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. 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.
Other camouflage methods
Felt tip pens
A firm called Magic Styl’o produce 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 they are obtainable from Dawn Cragg at:
St Michael’s Place
Tel: 01777 860500
More information is available on their website: Click Here
Medical tattooing is also called micropigmentation or permanent cosmetics. It is a more permanent method of skin camouflage, suitable for small areas of skin, for example lips and eyebrows. It involves implanting pigments into the skin, which are not the same as the inks used by high street tattooists. A test is needed to make sure people are not allergic to these pigments and the procedure is not suitable for everyone. Medical tattoos fade where skin is exposed to sunlight, but they can last for up to about a year.
Unfortunately, at present, medical tattooing is an unregulated profession. In inexperienced, untrained hands, there are a considerable number of things that could go wrong, including damage to your skin. It is essential that medical tattooing is done by a specialist technician who is well trained and has experience. If you feel medical tattooing is an option for you, please check with the British Association of Skin Camouflage (BASC) to make sure that your practitioner is properly qualified and experienced.
NB. The Vitiligo Society does not recommend or endorse any particular product.
Camouflage hot tips
Storage: when summer arrives there is no need to store your skin camouflage cremes in the fridge.
But, 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 cremes 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
Lavender: well you either like this fragrance or not, but somehow it seems to become more attractive the older you get! Lavender has many soothing and medicinal properties but it may also photosensitise skin, which means it may increase the potential for sunburn. So, if you like 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.
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.
Do you need camouflage to have a semi matte or glossy finish? Or 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 manufacturerâ€™s 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 its 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) apply 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.
Having trouble with shiny skin? 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.
(don’t ask no one seems to know why rice, corn and nut powders stay matte longer than talc and mineral, or if you are a cosmetic chemist and know the answer, we’d love to know!!!)
Airbrush.The 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 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. 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!
Information provided by the British Association of Skin Camouflage