Did you see Dragons Den last Sunday? If you did you will be well aware of a new product called Vitiliglow, which received financial backing from Dragon Sarah Willers and soon to be entering the market. #Vitiligo is big news right now. Twitter went crazy after the show, with lots of sufferers dying to get their hands on this new product claiming to help improve the lives of the 1% of the population who suffer from this condition. This is all very exciting, but with products not due to hit the market until autumn, you may be left wondering what you do in the meantime to help your condition? Well Skin Camouflage can help.
Skin Camouflage are highly pigmented creams and powders specifically designed to be able to cover a broad range of dermatosis including vitiligo, psoriasis, eczema, acne, rosacea; as well as burns, scars, birthmarks and even unwanted tattoos. They are specifically formulated to provide a light to full coverage with only a thin layer of product needed, so should look and feel like you don’t have anything on your skin. They provide a long lasting coverage, up to 12 hours on the face and 2-3 days on the body without the need for reapplication. They are also smudge proof and water resistant so you are free to wash and swim without fear of removal. They also contain SPF, which is extremely important for sensitive skins and particularly for vitiligo where there is an absence of melanin and is thus prone to sun damage and can cause the vitiligo to spread.
But before we get into products and application, lets get back to basics…
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a condition where areas of the skin lose their normal pigment and become white. It can appear in small patches, or for people with universal vitiligo can cover the whole body. The patches can be any shape or size and it is not uncommon for them to change shape or location. Vitiligo is often symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body, most commonly on the face and hands but can affect limbs, armpits, groins, genitals, as well as areas prone to damage from cuts and burns. Vitiligo affects people of all skin groups, of either gender, at any age. It tends to develop gradually over a number of years before reaching stability, for some people their natural pigment returns, but seldom completely.
What causes it?
The pigment that gives your skin its normal colour is called melanin and is made by cells known as melanocytes. In patches of vitiligo the melanocytes are absent. The cause of vitiligo is unknown but it is said to be an autoimmune condition whereby the body’s own immune system rejects some of its own cells (melanocytes) and destroys them, stopping melanin being produced and causing white patches to occur. It is thus common for thyroid disease and other autoimmune conditions to also be present in individuals with vitiligo. It is also a hereditary condition, with one in five sufferers knowing a member of their family who also has it.
Sadly there is no cure for vitiligo, although there are a number of treatment options such as topical creams, phototherapy, laser or surgical treatments, which can be discussed with your doctor or dermatologist. However, often no treatment will be required other than making sure you apply a good sunscreen and the use of skin camouflage.
Unfortunately vitiligo can result in the sufferer experiencing prejudice, as is the case in developing countries where vitiligo is confused with leprosy and thus a person is seen as a social outcast in their community. Luckily it is not as bad here and influential people like model Winnie Harlow who uses her condition to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with this disease helps. But for the many people who have to live with this condition; bullying, loss of self-esteem and confidence, depression and social anxiety is prevalent. Which is why skin camouflage is so beneficial.
Depending on the severity of the vitiligo, skin camouflage creams can either be applied directly to the depigmented skin; using fingertips to press and roll the cream into the skin, blending away the edges to match the colour of the surrounding skin. Or for larger areas and time constraints, it made be easier to rub a body camouflage cream like Dermablend Total Body Corrective Foundation across the whole area, setting both with a fixing powder or spray. This will prevent the skin camouflage from smudging or rubbing off onto clothes. In order to establish the correct colour, product and method of application for your skin it is recommended that you seek advice from a Professional Skin Camouflage Practitioner like myself. This will ensure you know how to apply and take care of your camouflage and achieve the best possible outcome.
Products designed to stain the skin like faux tans, can work very well for vitiligo, especially for the hands, where constant washing and scrubbing can unfortunately affect the durability of the skin camouflage cream. To avoid staining non-vitiligo areas make sure that you apply a barrier cream such as petroleum jelly to nails, and to the naturally pigmented margin of the skin where it meets the hypo-pigmentation. This will prevent a dark halo from appearing where the two areas meet. Depending on the difference in skin tone of the two areas, you may find (particularly for fairer skins), that you only require a half strength faux tan or tinted moisturiser to provide the coverage you need and achieve that healthy sun kissed glow. Tanning products are good for giving an all over body coverage and are much quicker and easier to apply, although at present they are only available for lighter skin tones. Always do a patch test before final application. For more information on specific products and methods of application, please read my blog post, fake tan for problematic skin.
- If you find that the skin camouflage feels too heavy it could be that you are applying it too thickly. Only a light application is needed to provide a good coverage. If you do however feel that it is not covering completely it is better to use two thin layers (set in between with powder), rather than one thick layer.
- If you get a halo or shadow where the two areas of vitligo meet, it may be necessary to apply a complementary colour first, before applying the natural skin toned camouflage to knock back that colour. In this instance consulting a Skin Camouflage Practitioner like myself is recommended, as they will be able to advise you which method of application is best.
- If you feel that the finish appears too matt you can apply a fixing spray over/instead of the fixing powder to give a more gloss like finish. Additionally, applying a fine application of bronzing powder over the skin camouflage will also help to make the skin less matt.
If you suffer from vitiligo and would like to discover how skin camouflage can help to cover your condition and boost your confidence and self-esteem, please contact me for a consultation. Additional support and information can be found at the Vitiligo Society, a small charity dedicated to helping those suffering from vitiligo.