What are the aims of this leaflet?
This leaflet has been written to help you understand more about skin camouflage – what products are available, what can be achieved with them and where you can find out more about them.
What is skin camouflage?
Skin camouflage is best described as the application of highly pigmented creams that are designed to effectively mask skin discolouration and scarring. Skin camouflage products mimic normal skin colours and are significantly different from ordinary cosmetics. When correctly applied the products are waterproof, allowing you to swim without the fear of the product washing off. Despite manufacturer’s claims no product is fully “rub-proof”, there may be minor transfer on to clothes, furnishings and bed linen, which can easily be removed by normal household cleansers.
The camouflage is removed daily using a soap substitute (cleansing cream) or toilet soap and water. This allows you to apply topical medication, and emollients, and also to inspect your skin for any changes to the condition.
What skin conditions are suitable for camouflage use?
Certain skin conditions can make the affected area appear more pale, red, or darker than the unaffected skin. Skin camouflage can mask this discoloration, matching the problem area to the natural surrounding skin tones. Whilst camouflage products can change skin colour the structure of the skin condition will not be altered.
Non-contagious skin conditions (such as vitiligo) and scars are suitable for skin camouflage. The skin must not be inflamed, blistered or broken. Radiotherapy marks and tattoos can also be hidden with skin camouflage.
Skin camouflage is not suitable for skin cancers or for infections including bacterial infections (such as impetigo), fungal infections (such as ringworm), viral infections (such as cold sores), or for undiagnosed skin conditions.
Are camouflage products suitable for men?
Skin camouflage products are suitable for men, women and children of all ages but not usually recommended for babies or very young children, unless suggested by their clinician.
How is the camouflage applied?
Many people prefer to apply the camouflage creams using clean fingertips, gently applying the products onto the affected areas. A soft brush is a good tool for applying camouflage over hairline scarring and narrow bands of discoloration, such as stretch marks. A cosmetic sponge may be helpful in covering larger areas. The area is then set with loose powder applied by a powder puff.
A relatively small amount of product will cover a large area of skin. Usually one layer is sufficient to conceal the discoloration; however, if necessary a second layer can be applied. The area should never appear obvious or be thickly applied.
How do I know what colour and product to use?
There is a vast range of pre-mixed skin tones available, but if necessary two colours can be mixed together to create an acceptable skin match. Some brands are better suited to humidity; some give denser coverage or are considered to be longer lasting on the skin than others. A more liquid consistency is preferable for larger areas requiring camouflage.
It would be difficult to make a good choice of skin camouflage cream that matches normal skin colour without professional assistance. A contact list of useful organisations that can help is listed below.
There are specially trained professionals who can advise you on an acceptable colour for your skin and application techniques. Skin camouflage experts often work within the NHS (usually in the outpatient clinic) and in specialist units such as Burns or Laser departments. They also work in the private sector, such as private hospital clinics or high street beauty salons.
How do I obtain skin camouflage products?
Currently there are several brands available on NHS prescription. These brands can also be purchased over the Internet and by mail and telephone order. They can also be ordered for cash sale at the prescription counter in your local chemist.
Also available in chemists, supermarkets and department stores are concealer products and mineral powders, which may be helpful in camouflaging minor discoloration but may not have the same durability-stability properties as true camouflage creams.
Where can I get more information about skin camouflage?
British Association of Skin Camouflage (NHS and private practice)
Tel: 01254 703 107
Tel: 0300 012 0276 (for the Skin Camouflage Service)
Skin Camouflage Network (NHS and private practice)
Helpline: 0785 1073795
For details of source materials used please contact the Clinical Standards Unit (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This leaflet aims to provide accurate information about the subject and is a consensus of the views held by representatives of the British Association of Dermatologists: its contents, however, may occasionally differ from the advice given to you by your doctor.
This leaflet has been assessed for readability by the British Association of Dermatologists’ Patient Information Lay Review Panel
BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF DERMATOLOGISTS
PATIENT INFORMATION LEAFLET
PRODUCED FEBRUARY 2011
UPDATED FEBRUARY 2014, SEPTEMBER 2014
REVIEW DATE SEPTEMBER 2017