Skin Camouflage is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as ‘the way that the colour or shape of an animal or plant appears to mix with its natural environment to prevent it from being seen by attackers’.
I like this definition transferred onto humans and skin camouflage – it is possible to use products to hide the appearance of certain skin conditions to blend into the surrounding skin. But for me the next part of the definition is most interesting – the intention, biologically speaking, is to hide from attackers. In our modern day is that also the intention? Who is, in fact the attacker? Is it bullies that we fear? Stares and nasty comments? Or is it sometimes we ourselves who are the greatest attackers of all?
We can be so unkind to ourselves, in particular about our appearance. One thing I have noticed in my clients is that the way they perceive themselves in the mirror does not always correspond to how others would perceive them. There is now growing awareness of this phenomenon in science and it has been described as follows:
‘People living with visible skin conditions and scars can experience a variety of psychosocial difficulties including anxiety and depression as well as increased levels of appearance specific distress that can adversely affect quality of life (QoL). High levels of fear of negative evaluation and social anxiety have been found in people living with a range of conditions that affect appearance. Newell and Marks compared responses on a fear questionnaire for people with agoraphobia, social phobia conditions causing a visible difference. They found that people with a visible difference on their face showed similar patterns of avoidance to those with agoraphobia and social phobia. However, distress related to the perceived visibility of the condition is known to be poorly correlated with objectively rated disease severity and psychological variables have been argued to play a more significant role in adjustment.’
It is in this context that skin camouflage must be understood. It is not to be likened to make-up or cosmetics.
With that in mind, these are the five main differences between skin camouflage products and more mainstream cosmetics:
The desired outcome for users of skin camouflage is not to beautify, and the underlying driver is not vanity – often there is a much more deep-rooted reason for wanting to use camouflage. It is for this very reason that specialist products were developed for wounded soldiers after the world wars, who were having difficulty rehabilitating into society. The main aim is to alleviate distress caused by altered appearance, and to be seen as just another face in the crowd rather than the only noticeable face in the crowd. Most commonly people are upset not necessarily by how their scar or skin concern looks, but how others react to it – everything from making judgments or assumptions, asking unwelcome questions or staring. The purpose of skin camouflage is to allow everyone to feel as much like them as they can.
Skin camouflage products have been designed specifically for use on scarred and damaged skin. As a result they perform much better than cosmetics. They last all day without the need to reapply, they are waterproof and sweat proof, they are designed for use on the body as well as the face, and certain products have been created to help products adhere to scarred (non-porous) skin. There are now also specialist silicones products that can help fill in atrophic (indented) scar patterns to really great effect – something that make-up would never be able to achieve.
Skin camouflage products are on average ten times more pigmented that anything you can find on the high street, even full coverage foundations and congealers. What this means is that they will much more effectively cover up any pigmentation, and that much less product can be used. This means that a natural result can be achieved and the product doesn’t need to be ‘caked on’ in heavy layers. With the help of a professional skin camouflage practitioner you will also be able to identify the best colour-correcting shades for your particular skin concern, so that the magic of colour theory can be used to neutralise any dark purples, browns, or reds.
Make-up and cosmetics may not appeal to everyone, and many people will not want to feel like they are putting on a make-up routine in the mornings. Skin camouflage is firmly rooted in science and medicine and therefore should have no barriers or associations for anyone. They come in very neutral and discreet packaging and can be used by anyone identifying as women or men, and children.
Because skin camouflage products are technically ‘para-medical’ and some are even available on NHS prescription, they have been tested to a much more rigorous standard than cosmetics and should not lead to any skin irritations or allergies.
Should you have any questions on the above, please don’t hesitate to contact us.