Camouglage makeup evolves

July 1, 2007

Camouflage makeup has evolved, now offering dermatologists a relatively low-risk way to cover up conditions ranging from vitiligo to rosacea or melasma. In addition to creating a more natural-looking appearance, compared with the older "cake makeup" products, mineral makeup sometimes can even help to control acne breakouts.

Key Points

National report - For all of the high-tech options for tackling pigmentary problems, sometimes the relatively low-tech option of camouflage makeup can be just the right tool.

One of the most welcome improvements in makeup for dermatologic use has been the evolution of mineral-based makeup, which offers doctors products that use natural ingredients and have a greatly reduced sensitivity and allergy risk.

"Mineral makeup has revolutionized the camouflage cosmetics market," says Amy B. Lewis, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.

Agrees with all skin types

Patients with all skin types can usually benefit and get a natural appearance from mineral makeup, Dr. Lewis adds.

"Mineral makeup is great for all skin types because the mineral pigment reflects light so that the natural color seems to come from within," she says. "That's why it has such good coverage without looking like you are wearing anything at all."

Since true mineral makeup doesn't contain additives such as oils, dyes, talc, alcohol or anything other than pure minerals, products cause less irritation and fewer allergic reactions. But in order to enjoy those benefits, it's important to make sure you're really using mineral makeup, Dr. Lewis notes.

"Just because it says 'mineral makeup' or 'mineral-based' doesn't mean that it is all natural, and you really need to read the ingredients to make sure the label says 'pure minerals.'"

In addition to helping to naturally cover up pigmentary problems, mineral makeups can even play a proactive role in easing skin conditions, by helping, for instance, to decrease acne breakouts.

"The benefits beyond covering up are that mineral makeup can help calm the skin and reduce acne breakouts," Dr. Lewis says.

Occasions when patients appreciate coverup makeup the most are, of course, following cosmetic procedures such as chemical peels or laser procedures. But dermatologists need to use particular caution with makeup use during the wound-healing stage, says Helen M. Torok, M.D., medical director of Trillium Creek Dermatology & Surgery in Medina, Ohio.

"The application of creamy or lotion-based makeup too early in the healing process can present a risk of being a contact irritant or causing contact allergic dermatitis," Dr. Torok says.

"Most makeups contain 20 ingredients, and ingredients such as propylene glycol, lanolin, alcohol vehicles or fragrances will cause irritation."

The relative purity of mineral makeup, however, makes it a useful tool in some cases, and Dr. Torok says her makeup of choice for such cases is the Jane Iredale brand.

"Jane Iredale is mineral-based makeup with just two inert ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide," she says.

In addition to posing "virtually no allergy risk," Jane Iredale products contain broad-spectrum UVB and UVA protection of up to SPF 20, they are noncomedogenic and won't block pores, according to the company's Web site.

Another brand doctors often turn to is Lycogel Camouflage (Dermacia), promoted as being highly beneficial in the early stages of wound healing due to its ability to allow skin to "breathe."

Dermacia says Lycogel Camouflage has been shown to be "the only foundation to increase the delivery of essential oxygen to the wearer's skin, up to three times more than wearing nothing at all."

Lycogel uses a "cross pigment factor" color system that can be used immediately after a chemical peel or nonablative procedure, according to company materials.

Joel Schlessinger, M.D., says he also has had success with Dermacia in patients with acne.