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Skin Camouflage or skin make-up can be used particularly by people with scleroderma as can help change the way the skin looks or cover up areas of discolouration or tightness. We interviewed Helena Rozga about being a Skin Camouflage practitioner and her experience of applying make-up.
Skin camouflage practitioners are trained volunteers who help people to cover or reduce the visibility of scars, marks and skin conditions, using specialist creams and powder products.
At one of the Scleroderma Society (now SRUK) conferences we invited Changing faces to be present to demonstrate how they can help people with skin conditions, which can be a symptom of Scleroderma. I persuaded two ladies to have a consultation. At first they were a little reluctant but as I knew them well I coaxed them to go ahead as I thought others would follow their lead. They came away from the consultation positively smiling and I will never forget one of them said, “I have lips". I was moved by their experience and spoke to the practitioners in some depth about the service and they encouraged me to volunteer, as I love to paint they thought I would be good at colour matching. I do find it terrifically rewarding and particularly like to help people to cope and take control of visual problems that worry them.
For some people living with scarring or a skin condition can affect their self-confidence and people often say after the consultation that they have regained some confidence and self-esteem.
As a skin camouflage practitioner my aim is to cover or reduce the problem area with a cream and powder that best matches the client's skin tone. I then show the client how to apply the specialist products to improve the appearance of the affected area. Sometimes, I might signpost the client to other organisations that may be able to help or support them to live with their condition.
Clients can self refer for emotional support and in some parts of the UK people can self refer to Skin Camouflage are often referred by Dermatologists or Doctors. For further information please contact Changing Faces on the details provided.
It is not just women that come to the clinic I have seen many men and of course children. The most common conditions are scarring from birthmarks, surgery, burns or self-harm, vitiligo, rosacea, hyper-pigmentation and Telangiectasia.
Every client is special but I can think of one lady in particular who had rosacea for 20 years and never wore makeup and was extremely apprehensive about the consultation. I listened to her and her concerns, matched the skin tone and taught her how to apply the products. When she looked at the finished results in a mirror she was overjoyed and in tears and said “ to think I have put up with this for 20 years and didn't have to". She was meeting a friend for lunch so we applied a little lipstick too. She went out of the clinic a different person knowing that she could control the appearance of the rosacea.
Clients can access the service through a referral from their Gp, hospital, consultant or dermatologist. Or they can go to the Changing Faces website changingfaces.org.uk/skincam and self refer to their nearest clinic.
Clients can self refer in some parts of the UK. In others, the service is restricted or has to be through a health professional. All of the information is on the website.
Changing faces also supports people with the emotional and social effects of looking different through their counselling Service.
The service Helena is referring to is our Support, Information and Advice Service which includes the Changing Faces Practitioners service. They provide confidential emotional support, information and advice often in the form of 1 2 1 sessions in person or over the phone for a period of weeks or months.