I was recently asked to take part in a Q&A with the British Skin Foundation, here's what I had to say.
We asked our supporters if they had any questions they would like to ask a Make-up Artist specialising in Skin Camouflage. We interviewed our friend Charlotte Trendell, fully qualified Para-Medical Skin Camouflage Practitioner, with your questions.
1. Is there anything out there for men? A product that doesn’t look like you’ve got make-up on your skin?
Yes. Skin Camouflage, unlike conventional cosmetics is not gender specific, so men, women and children of all ages and ethnicities can wear it. The creams and powders come in plain packaging and in most cases can be applied without the need for makeup brushes, by simply using fingertips and a powder puff.
Skin Camouflage creams are highly pigmented, and specifically formulated with the intention of covering scars, burns, skin disorders, tattoos and other visual skin imperfections, so you only need a thin layer to achieve a good coverage.
It should look and feel like you don’t have anything on your skin. It’s water resistant and smudge proof, so that means you don’t have to worry about it coming off. You can shower and engage in sports like swimming without fear. It is extremely long lasting, up to 12 hours on the face and 2-3 days on the body without the need for reapplication, and a little goes a long way.
2. I have Urticaria Pigmentosa, brown and pink lesions all over body, head to feet. Is there a camouflage in a large tub and can I get it on prescription?
Yes. Skin Camouflage creams come in a variety of sizes. Although there is a wider range available at retail, there are some you could try which are available on NHS prescription.
Dermacolor Camouflage Cream comes in a 30g tub, with an extensive colour range to cater for all skintones. Likewise Veil Cover Cream is available in a 45g jar, in 34 colours. Dermablend is the only brand that offers a specific body foundation on NHS prescription with their Total Body Corrective Foundation in a 100ml tube, but at present it only has a limited 3 colour range.
There is a chance that there will be more options available to you in the future, as the manufacturers bring out a broader range of products and the NHS prescribe these. In the meantime I would suggest that you inform your GP that there are larger sizes available in case they are unaware, and make sure your Skin Camouflage Practitioner documents the larger size in their consultation referral.
3. Does this work for Eczema?
Yes. Skin Camouflage can be highly effective on Atopic Eczema as well as other dermatitis. As long as the area is not infected, open or inflamed (which can be the case with eczema due to scratching), skin camouflage can be applied.
Please note that for Eczema Herpeticum, which is a serious viral infection, antiviral treatment must be taken before the use of skin camouflage. If you are unsure please seek medical advice prior to application. Although skin camouflage can neutralize the discoloration of the skin, skin camouflage cannot completely conceal areas which are raised and of uneven texture. Although the results can still be extremely impressive in masking the area concerned.
4. Do you think spray tans work as camouflage?
Yes and No. It’s very individualised and depends on the severity of your skin condition and your sensitivity to the ingredients used. I would not recommend that you use tanning products during a flare up or if the skin is broken as you could be at risk of infection. However spray tans can work very well to cover large areas of skin, even out colour variations and give you a nice healthy summer glow.
Normal camouflage products are too thick to pass through the airbrush gun but you can get special fluid foundations like Temptu or Airbase, which would work in the same way (look for those that are free from alcohol, perfumes and parabens).
Self-application of airbrushing is not recommended. I would advise that you go to a beauty therapist or salon where they have experts on hand to talk through your concerns and adapt the coverage to your needs. St. Tropez have brought out a hypoallergenic sensitive range that has been dermatologically tested to be suitable for even the most delicate skin types, so ask your therapist what brands they use before application.
It is very important that a patch test is carried out 24 hours before tanning to confirm there is no allergic reaction and will also provide a good indication of the depth of colour and coverage that can be achieved.
Skin camouflage can be applied over the faux tan to areas which require more coverage or to top up areas where plaques have desquamated from topical medication or scratching. If you use faux tan regularly I would advise that you see a professional Skin Camouflage Practitioner to get re-colour matched once the tan has developed. Trying to match the colour yourself could prove tricky.
For those who prefer self-tanning, there are some great tanning lotions, sprays and creams on the market. I would advise that you look for those that have been dermatologically tested and where possible suitable for sensitive skins. Gradual tans or tinted moisturisers work best as they contain lower levels of tanning agents, natural oils and are extremely moisturising. This is extremely beneficial for Psoriasis and Eczema to smooth and hydrate the skin and prevent the tan from clinging to the drier areas.
I would recommend St. Tropez’s sensitive and Naturals range; Sienna X which are free of alcohol and parabens; Cocoa Brown Gentle Bronze with skin sensitive vegetable DHA’s and no parabens; Skin smoothing L’Oreal Sublime Bronzing Gel and Asda Protect After Sun with Tan Enhancer to prevent peeling.
There is a fake tan brand for everyone, but you may have to experiment with different brands and formulas before finding the best option for you.
Faux tans can be extremely effective for depigmented skin such as vitiligo; however please be aware that they usually darken melasma or any hyperpigmentation, due to the over stimulation of melanin. You can however apply a barrier cream, such as petroleum jelly to the naturally pigmented skin (up to the border of hypopigmentation), to avoid staining the darker areas and prevent a dark halo where the two areas of skin meet.
Taking care of sensitive skin with daily moisturising and gentle exfoliating prior, during and after fake tanning should be top priority. It is also important to treat the initial skin problem two weeks prior to tanning. So if you have an eczema or psoriasis flare up, leave it a fortnight before tanning with a gentle tanner that is suitable for sensitive skins.
5. How is best to prepare your skin before applying makeup to get a smooth as possible look?
Prepping the skin before skin camouflage and cosmetics is essential. As part of your skin care routine you should use a gentle exfoliator a couple of times a week to get rid of any dead skin cells and remove any flaky dry skin. I would steer clear of toners as these can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause dehydration. A splash of cold water will work just as well.
Before applying your foundation, moisturise your face using your topical medication or a good skin enriching moisturiser like Aveeno. Sun protection is a must for sensitive, problematic skins and so an emollient with SPF like La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL 50+ which melts straight into the skin is ideal before skin camouflage. Leave the cream for 15 minutes to sink in, blot any excess with a tissue and then prime the skin using an oil free primer like Illamasqua Hydra Veil which calms, rehydrates and refreshes the skin to leave a radiant finish, or Smashbox Photo Finish Primer with its blend of vitamins A and E, grape seed extract and green tea. A primer will increase the longitivity of the makeup, whilst also smoothing the texture of the skin to achieve a flawless complexion. Your skin is then prepped and ready for makeup.
6. Having looked at skin camouflage online there are several different companies offering their products, some say they can be used to cover acne and others only acne scarring, are any particularly recommended for acne sufferers? Also, the one that I have found in the shops is Vichy's dermablend. Are there any other retailers where we can go to the shop to colour match or buy samples without incurring disproportionate delivery costs? I find that liquid foundations clog my pores and cause further breakouts but I desperately want to cover my acne, do you have any tips for people like me?
Skin Camouflage is great for acne as they are non-comedogenic and dermatologically tested so won’t clog your pores or react with your skin. They are specifically formulated to cover a wide range of skin disorders, so their high pigmentation means you don’t need a lot of product to achieve a full coverage. This is a common mistake for acne sufferers using conventional cosmetics believing that they have to cover their face in a thick foundation in order to achieve the required coverage. Most people will find that they have clusters or localised areas of acne around the forehead, cheeks, chin and nose, but have good skin elsewhere. Therefore to create the illusion of a clearer complexion, applying camouflage just to the blemished areas and keeping the foundation light elsewhere will give the illusion of a clearer complexion.
Where skin camouflage can give some amazing results in reducing any redness or discolouration that is common with acne, it cannot however completely disguise the skin texture differences of atrophic (indented) or hypertrophic (raised) scarring. There are some tricks in methods of application and employing the principles of light and shade to apply camouflage to different areas of the scar, but for a non-makeup artist this could be tricky to master and expert blending is paramount. It is recommended for severe acne to see a registered Skin Camouflage Practitioner who will be able to demonstrate to you how to expertly conceal your condition.
There are currently five brands available on the NHS and at retail that cover both acne and acne scarring: Veil, Dermablend, Dermacolor, Keromask and Covermark. Each has varying strengths and textures. Some are dryer and give a denser coverage, whilst others are softer or more liquid so will slip more easily over the skin. It really depends on the form and severity of your acne, as well as your skin type, (oily, dry, mature etc.) as to which product will suit you best. Which is why seeking the advice of a Skin Camouflage Practitioner is recommended.
There are limited places where you can buy camouflage over the counter, especially out of London. Boots stock Dermablend camouflage, but only in their larger stores and online. You can however purchase sample packs of camouflage cream in a range of colours, on the Internet for you to try at home.
The Garden Pharmacy in Covent Garden offer Dermablend sample packs for free and a Covermark sample palette at a cost. Keromask and Veil do light, medium and dark blister packs, and Dermacolor also do tester kits. However these packs are not free.
When trying to self diagnose it can be difficult to match your skin tone exactly, as the colours on the Internet are rarely true to life and as mentioned different brands and formulas will work better with some skin conditions than others. So purchasing samples from all the brands can become costly and time consuming if you have to try many brands.
If this is the case I would recommend that you see a professional Skin Camouflage Practitioner who will be able to assess your condition, provide you with a customised skin match and ascertain which product will be best for you. They will also be able to show you the correct way to apply the product, which can be a common problem for those trying to do it themselves, not knowing how to apply it and thus believing that Skin Camouflage doesn’t work for them.
If however you do want to self select I recommend that you apply the product in natural light, as this will give you the best colour match possible and allow the product to sink into your skin for 5-10 minutes as this will give you the best representation of colour and coverage, as the camouflage blends with the natural oils in your skin.
7. I have just received my Rio camouflage concealer, is this the same product offered by the NHS?
No. There are a variety of brands offering Skin Camouflage products to buy at retail, over the counter and online. However at present there are only 5 brands available on NHS prescription. These are Veil, Dermabend, Covermark, Keromask and Dermacolor.
Although there are some very effective skin camouflage products available on the market please be careful when purchasing creams from unknown suppliers, especially as your skin is highly sensitive and fragile and could react with certain chemicals. All those available on NHS prescription have been tested under dermatological and ophthalmological control on sensitive skin, so have gone through the rigorous checks to make sure they are safe to use.
Also not all products claiming to offer camouflage capabilities will be water resistant or offer the required coverage needed to conceal all skin imperfections. Colours can be somewhat different from how they appear on the packaging or online, as well as how they take to differing skin conditions, which is why it is preferable to seek professional help to find the right brand and colour for you.
8. What would be your top foundation choice for concealing psoriasis on the face? Mineral or liquid?
It really depends on the severity of the psoriasis. Where there are localised areas I would first apply a camouflage cream such as Dermablend Corrective Stick to conceal, and then apply Dermablend Corrective Fluid over the top and to the surrounding areas, to even out the complexion. That way you can achieve a fuller coverage over the areas that need to be concealed, whilst maintaining a natural looking finish to the rest of the skin. For more extensive psoriasis it may be more effective to apply a camouflage cream like the Dermablend Corrective Stick to the whole of the face and then powder. This will give a denser coverage but not a mask effect.
I would strongly suggest for Psoriasis that the person uses their topical medication under the camouflage (especially Dovonex cream or the gels), wait 15 mins and then blot any excess with a tissue. Desquamate if necessary (you should find the plaques will lift off naturally), and then apply the camouflage. This will give a more even complexion and avoid the cream or foundation collecting in the dry areas.
For mineral makeup, Jane Iredale do a fantastic range, their Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream acts as a concealer, foundation and moisturiser in one, to give a luminous velvety finish, which covers imperfections but doesn’t feel too heavy. The BB cream also contains natural fruit extracts and antioxidants which help to exfoliate, refine and rejuvenate the skin. The best technique is to stipple the foundation onto the problematic areas and then buff a smaller amount across the rest of the face, before setting with either PurePressed or Amazing Base. This will make your foundation more long lasting and enable you to build up more layers on the areas which need more coverage.
What I like about Jane Iredale products is not only do they make you look beautiful they also have added skin benefits too. Made from 98% minerals and free from chemicals, fillers, perfumes, synthetic preservatives, talc, dyes, and all the other ingredients, which can inflame and congest the skin.
Jane Iredale products allow the skin to breathe; they don’t block pores and are oil free. They help to reduce redness, so are great for psoriasis, and are highly water resistant so extremely long lasting. Their highly pigmented micronized particles mean they provide excellent coverage with only a small amount of product, so a little goes a long way.
It was a pleasure to be interviewed and work with The British Skin Foundation, the UK’s only charity dedicated to research into all skin diseases & skin cancer. If you would like to discover more about skin camouflage and how it can help to conceal your skin concern, please book a consultation with me. I hope you’ve enjoyed the Q&A, look out for more in the future and if you have any further questions please comment below.
Charlotte Trendell is a fully qualified Para-Medical Skin Camouflage Practitioner, trained at the British Association of Skin Camouflage. She is also a member of BASC and Skin Camouflage Network (SCN).