Vitiligo And My Search For The Perfect Camouflage Make-Up

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Vitiligo sufferer Tiffany Posteraro got this tattoo to defy bullies who labelled her ‘cow’ and ‘dalmatian’. She hopes to enlighten people over the condition. [Photo: tumblr]

You may recognise the woman pictured below as former ‘America’s Top Model’ contestant, Winnie Harlow; the beauty with the symmetrical patches of depigmented skin - also known as Vitiligo.

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[Photo: Canadian Press/REX/Shutterstock]

Vitiligo is a condition that causes white patches to develop on the skin due to lack of melanin. It’s thought to be an auto immune condition though it’s not exactly clear what causes it. It’s not physically painful and it’s not contagious. Around 1 in 100 people in the UK will develop Vitiligo.

Thanks to people like Winnie Harlow awareness of the condition is on the rise. Other famous Vitiligans include: Graham Norton, actress Kara Louise Tointon and Richard Hammond.

Developing Vitilgo can be confusing and even depressing. I first noticed I had the condition about four years ago; it started with a small patch on my wrist and gradually developed into bigger patches on my hands, feet and thighs. All of that I could handle but the big circles that appeared around my eyes like some sort of reverse raccoon made my self-esteem plummet.

Almost over night I turned from somebody who wore little to no make-up into a person unable to leave the house without it. On the rare occasion I’d pop to the shops bare faced I was painfully aware of the curious glances that lingered a little too long.

Even alone with my family I felt self-conscious. Their attempts to boost me, telling me I looked nice or that I’d done my make-up well only served to stoke my smouldering insecurity. “It’s not as bad as you think,” they’d say. But the point was it was still there. “Why are your eyes like that?” My two-year-old niece once asked. Kids - they say what they see.

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My patchy hand. [Photo: Jasmine Jones]

While I’ve gradually come to accept that this is the new me, unlike Winnie I feel more confident wearing camouflage make-up on my face. I’ve argued with myself a lot over this, debating whether I’m being my true authentic self by covering up.

After a lot of soul searching I made a promise to stop beating myself up for wanting to camouflage the Vitiligo on my face. If it improved my quality of life then so be it. This took a great deal of time, research and money (make up is expensive!). Each product bringing new hope only to lighten my wallet and send me crashing down when it didn’t work.

After witnessing my obsessive search for the perfect camouflage make-up someone very close to me accused me of being ‘vain’ partly, I’m sure, because they felt powerless to help. Still, it was a bitter pill to swallow amidst the despair I was feeling at the time.

Other people with Vitiligo may choose a different way to cope with the condition. I hope these findings from my experiments with both professional camouflage creams and beauty counter products are useful to those searching to find good makeup to suit their needs. My main aim was to find something that looked and felt natural.

One thing I would say is to have patience; you’ll need to practice with colours and application methods to get the right coverage that works for you. Get samples where you can so you don’t break the bank. I recommend using good make-up tools, namely concealer brushes and beauty blenders. Good quality make-up will get you so far but you need the right tools for the job.

Personally I don’t bother with primers because some are water-based and some are silicone-based and matching them to the ingredients in camouflage make-up is a real headache. All combinations seem to make my make-up split rather than create a long-lasting look. I’m not saying primers don’t work but after a lot of experimenting I’ve found, for my needs, they interfere rather than enhance.

If you have Vitiligo, going without sunscreen is not an option. My personal favourite is Ultra Sun Face. I find the SPF 50 too greasy but SPF 30 still offers high protection, is light, easily absorbed, works great under make-up and most importantly for me, lasts up to 10 hours. This is good news because after applying camouflage mak-eup I don’t want to be messing around reapplying sunscreen halfway through the day. It’s also comforting on the skin so on days when I’m in a rush I can skip my daily moisturiser.

Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer - Urban Decay

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[Photo: Urban Decay]

This is the best beauty counter concealer I’ve tried so far. It’s highly pigmented weightless formula feels great on my skin and doesn’t fall into pores or lines, making it suitable for the under eye area which is where I have most of my vitiligo.

You can build and build this stuff and it never feels cakey and always sets to a natural finish. The shades tend to dry a tiny bit darker than they go on so I recommend trying before you buy.

As with any concealer I wouldn’t wear it on it’s own; it’s always best to apply even a tiny amount of foundation or bb cream to give it a base to stick to. Urban Decay’s Weightless Ultra Definition liquid foundation is a great partner to this concealer. It’s super light, sheer-to-medium buildable coverage allows you to let the concealer do all the hard work while giving you a radiant natural look. This works for me because I prefer to spot conceal my vitiligo rather than wear a full coverage foundation all over my face.

While the concealer is long-lasting I find my foundation base tends to slip after about four hours, however setting everything with a generous mist of Urban Decay’s de-slick Makeup Setting Spray holds everything in place for the whole day. Literally no touch ups necessary. It’s labelled as ‘oil control’ but I have normal to dry skin and have had absolutely no problems with it.

Using all three products together I feel confident enough to leave the house for the whole day without any makeup in my bag. This is a massive step for me.

Keromask London

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[Photo: Keromask London]

Keromask London are recommended by dermatology practitioners at the British Association for Skin Camouflage and Changing Faces.

Keromask’s vast range of shades and mixers mean it’s possible to find a match for every skin tone. The creams are highly pigmented - a little goes a long way. You need to work in thin layers. It’s easy to sheer out in areas that don’t require full coverage and works beautifully as a foundation. It’s unscented, doesn’t feel the least bit heavy and is buildable without looking cakey.

This product felt great on my skin and definitely covered my Vitiligo but unfortunately it wasn’t long-lasting. I tried a variety of ways to remedy this: on moisturised, bare and primed skin but after about an hours wear the coverage felt more like that of a sheer coverage foundation and my Vitiligo was showing through.

Their translucent, mineral rich setting powder is much better than any beauty counter brand I’ve ever tried. It sets to a velvety finish, isn’t drying and doesn’t fall into cracks.

Keromask also offer a lovely range of reasonably priced make-up brush kits. I use their flat concealer brushes every day.

Veil Cover Cream

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Founded in 1952 by cosmetic chemist Thomas Blake, Veil Cover Cream was originally formulated to hide post-operative scars.

Veil comes in a range of easily blendable shades to get your perfect match. There are also four colour correctors which when applied sparingly beneath the camouflage creams help conceal stubborn areas such as hyperpigmentation and redness.

The cream seems thick at first but warming it up on the back of your hand prior to application melts it into a thin workable texture. This formula is highly pigmented and a little goes a long way; working in small sections and building in thin layers will ensure you don’t end up with a cakey look. It can be easily sheered out to create a base colour in areas that don’t require high coverage.

The look is more natural than any high coverage beauty counter foundation I’ve tried and certainly feels more weightless. You will look like you’re wearing make-up but certainly no more so than any other full coverage foundation. The payoff is that the coverage is reliable, doesn’t fall into pores or cracks when properly worked into the skin and doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a mask.

Veil too stock an excellent velvety light finishing powder which again, exceeds any beauty counter product I’ve tried. Set your look with this and you can get through the day with about one touch up.

Be careful of using cream contour kits with this stuff as it tends to split the camouflage. Sticking with a powder pallet is best.

Smashbox 24 Hour CC Spot Concealer

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A highly pigmented concealer that lasts all day.

This concealer really does hide imperfections but it’s tricky to work with as it dries incredibly fast and once it sets it doesn’t budge. I found putting it on the back of my hand, dabbing with small concealer brush then blending with my finger the best way to apply with control.

You’ll need to touch up your foundation base to keep up with the very long-lasting waterproof properties of this concealer otherwise you may find you skin looking patchy.

This stuff doesn’t work well under the eye area as it’s a little too thick once dried. Be careful when building as it has the potential to get really cakey, however, the coverage it provides is decent enough that you shouldn’t need to layer.

There are currently only eight shades on offer and I had to use two to match my skin. At £20 a tube that’s a lot. Still, a little goes a long way and after using for almost a year I never emptied one.

Smashbox claims that this product works to visibly fade dark spots over time, however I used it for the best part of a year to conceal areas of hyper pigmentation and noticed no difference.

This concealer is great for those who have smaller areas to camouflage.

Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation

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[Photo: Estée Lauder]

Available in 44 shades, Double Wear is a truly long-lasting foundation that stays in place all day. The coverage is medium to full and dries very quickly - I recommend applying gradually in small areas over the face and in thin layers.

Sheered out with a damp beauty blender it feels very comfortable but building it up in areas that require actual camouflaging creates a pasted-on look. Not great for under the eyes. The semi-matte finish is a little on the dry side for my normal to dry skin but would be brilliant on normal to oily.

I found it covered my vitiligo areas effectively but I physically felt like I was wearing make-up and personally I prefer something lighter.

Make Up For Ever - 5 Camouflage Cream Palette

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[Photo: Makeup For Ever]

Make Up Forever claim the highly concentrated pigments in their 5 Camouflage Cream Palette are “perfect for covering dark spots and other skin blemishes”. I had really high hopes for this product but for me, it didn’t deliver.

The formula is light, glides on beautifully and mixing the colours allows for great skin matching. Unfortunately, I found it impossible to achieve any decent camouflage.

Despite careful layering this product remained slightly translucent. It certainly didn’t hide dark spots or my Vitiligo. I also found it wasn’t long-lasting; vanishing from my face in under an hour. I tried Make Up For Ever’s silicone and water based primers to remedy this but neither worked. I also found this palette incompatible with their Ultra HD foundation as it made the camouflage split.

While this product would be great for unifying skin tone and covering minor imperfections for me, it didn’t cut it as a true camouflage product.

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