I recently took part in Vitiligo Association Australia’s camouflage workshop via Zoom. If you haven’t heard of them, the VAA was founded in September 2010 for patient support, public education and the promotion of research into vitiligo within Australia. Anyone with an interest in vitiligo can join the VAA, which is a not-for-profit association.
At VITILIGLOW®, we have a large customer base in Australia as many people with vitiligo choose to cover up their patches before heading to the beach. The camouflage workshop featured a wide range of camouflage products and companies, and I was delighted to be asked to talk about VITILIGLOW®.
Speakers and experts in the workshop included camouflage expert Joanna Blair. She is a professional makeup artist, director of Joanna Blair School of Makeup and over 20 years of experience with paramedical camouflage makeup. Joanna teaches people with vitiligo how to apply camouflage makeup on themselves.
If you didn’t get the chance to join the Zoom meeting, you can watch the full video here:
Last week, Joti held an IGTV live session with me to discuss skin camouflage, covering up vitiligo and the background behind VITILIGLOW®. I first met Joti several years ago and I’ve been following her on Instagram ever since. Over a quarter of Joti’s followers on Instagram completely cover up and use a cover-up product like makeup or vitiligo camouflage, so clearly many of us feel the same about covering our depigmented patches.
In case you missed any of the live stream on IGTV, I thought I’d write up some of our conversation in this blog post about my honest experience with vitiligo and how developing and using VITILIGLOW® has given me back my confidence. You can also head over to Joti’s Instagram feed (@vitiligo_and_me on Instagram) to watch the live stream in full.
My vitiligo journey
I’ve now had vitiligo for over 20 years. My patches have developed over that time and I’ve lost around 70% of my pigment now. I choose to cover my patches, but there are a lot of people out there who are confident and choose not to cover their patches, and that’s totally fine. My eldest son has vitiligo – he has dark skin so it’s quite noticeable on him – and he chooses not to cover his patches. Whereas I’m quite the opposite – I always cover my patches. Joti also chose to cover up with full face and body coverage for 18 years. I know there are many of you who choose to cover your patches too.
Going back over 20 years, when I was first diagnosed, I had very little knowledge about vitiligo and very little experience of the condition. I didn’t know anyone with vitiligo. None of my family had vitiligo. When I was first diagnosed, I don’t think I really understood how it was going to affect me long-term. I started off with a really small patch on my wrist. It was only when another small patch came up on my other wrist in the same place – I had symmetrical vitiligo – that the doctors were finally able to diagnose it as vitiligo.
For the first few years, I didn’t really let vitiligo bother me. I carried on going out in the sun, wearing the clothes I’d always worn. It’s only when the patches started to spread and became more noticeable that it started to affect me and my confidence. It was at that point that I began my journey of looking for something to cover it up.
Be proud of covering up
Joti agreed that covering your patches can make you feel good. We shouldn’t be ashamed to say that we cover up our patches to feel more confident. I work full-time in healthcare and I want people to listen to me when I do a presentation, for example, and not just be distracted by my vitiligo and patches. For me, it’s easier to cover up and blend in with others!
Joti explained in our IGTV session that the idea of ‘fitting in’ isn’t just related to skin conditions. Many people feel the pressure to ‘fit in’ with others in society and on social media. It’s a topic that the Mental Health Foundation is taking seriously and they’re doing something about it. There are so many people who are dealing with this pressure.
The creation of VITILIGLOW®
This need to cover my patches led me to creating VITILIGLOW®. I wanted to create a product that is quick and easy to use on a daily basis. Traditional camouflage products are generally a three-step process; you have to use a primer, then a shade, then a setting powder or finishing spray, which can take a long time to apply. For me, with depigmentation increasing all over my body, I couldn’t do that every day. By the time I’d covered all my patches in that way, it’d be time to go to bed! So that’s why I wanted to create VITILIGLOW® – a product that is quick and easy to apply every day, doesn’t need any powders or setting sprays, and doesn’t rub off. It’s also water resistant. You can use VITILIGLOW® all over your whole body, and even on your face. I apply VITILIGLOW® every day to cover my patches so I wanted to make it good value for money.
Creating VITILIGLOW® has been an up and down rollercoaster with manufacturers and formulas – it’s taken a good few years to get to where we are – but the formula is the best yet. Even now, I’m still trying to improve the formula – I won’t stop until it’s the perfect product that we all deserve! I still work full-time because money from the VITILIGLOW® sales goes back into developing and improving the products.
Running VITILIGLOW® isn’t all about selling a product. It’s about supporting people; supporting those who want to cover up and supporting those who don’t want to cover up. We ran a successful #VitiliglowConfidence campaign on Instagram which celebrated vitiligo and people who choose not to cover up their depigmented patches.
If you want to watch the IGTV live session in full, head over to Joti’s Instagram page: @vitiligo_and_me.
June has been a very busy month for VITILIGLOW® with many customers buying our bundle deals in time for the sunshine. The weather has been so sunny, and it means that many of us like to cover up our vitiligo and wear short-sleeved tops and shorts without worrying about having our patches on show.
Today is the ninth World Vitiligo Day, which also means it’s exactly 11 years since Michael Jackson passed away. World Vitiligo Day was chosen as the 25th June because it’s the day of Michael Jackson’s death. Many say he was the most famous person to have vitiligo, but there are other well-known people with the condition, including model Winnie Harlow and chef Dean Edwards.
As always, World Vitiligo Day is a time for celebration of the skin condition but also a fantastic opportunity to raise more awareness. Even today, many people are not aware of vitiligo, or at least don’t know the facts about the condition, which means some people make uneducated assumptions. Some still even believe you can catch vitiligo from someone else, which you definitely can’t, and some think there is a link between vitiligo and leprosy, which there isn’t!
World Vitiligo Day is all about getting the interesting, true facts out there, raising awareness and educating about the condition. We all want to reduce the stigma that can be associated with it, and improve research into vitiligo.
Lots of people with vitiligo feel really confident in their own skin, and don’t give a second’s thought about going out with their vitiligo and patches on show. But there are also many of us who still feel conscious of the skin condition, and choose to cover up our patches. That’s why I created VITILIGLOW® as I couldn’t find a suitable camouflage cream out there that I could rely on.
As always, The Vitiligo Society have done a great job of running some brilliant events this summer for World Vitiligo Day, and the main National Vitiligo Community Conference, which is a Global Vitiligo Celebration in line with World Vitiligo Day, is being held on 26th to 28th June this year. It’s hosted by the Minnesota VITFriends family with the support of the Global Vitiligo Foundation.
World Vitiligo Day is a great opportunity to talk about vitiligo and get involved in some of the upcoming events, whether you attend one in person or join in the conversation on social media! If you’d like to share your photos, selfies or vitiligo stories with us at VITILIGLOW®, we’d love to hear from you, so please tag #VITILIGLOW in your social media posts. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
I hope everyone is staying safe and well in these unprecedented times, and getting used to this ‘new normal’.
Happy World Vitiligo Day 2020!
Founder of VITILIGLOW®
This week we have been celebrating and raising awareness of two very important campaigns: Mental Health Awareness Week and Face Equality Week.
Changing Faces UK have headed up the Face Equality campaign to raise awareness of those with visible differences, just like the many of us with vitiligo. The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is ‘Kindness’, and it raises the point of just how important it is to be kind to yourself and others, including the thousands of us with visible differences, including vitiligo, alopecia, scars, burns and acne, and those with sometimes invisible mental health battles too.
In the recent weeks and months with so many changes going on in our lives, and many of us spending much more time at home than we usually would, it's so important to remember to show kindness not only to others but to yourself too. I hope you’ve been able to take a few minutes this week to check in with yourself. How is your mental health? What small things could you do to practice self-care and be kind to yourself?
I’ve been continuing going to work and doing my day job, which is in a local hospital, and the recent events with many people clapping on their doorsteps on Thursday evenings has really shown us just how important kindness is. I’ve been wearing my rainbow ‘thank you’ t-shirt with pride, and felt so appreciative to everyone in the NHS, and the many carers and keyworkers.
Mental health charity Mind have said that one of the most common coping strategies for thousands of us during this time of staying at home is to connect with family and friends online. This week, for Mental Health Awareness Week, but also in the weeks and months that follow, take every opportunity you get to speak with family and friends whether it be over the phone or via video call. Set up fun quizzes, do online board game nights, and get your family and friends involved! Many people with existing mental health problems can feel particularly lonely and alone at this time, so it’s important to communicate and show kindness.
Friend of VITILIGLOW®, Joti (@vitiligo_and_me on Instagram) has been sharing daily posts on different topics surrounding mental health throughout the past week. On Tuesday, she focused on challenges faced by young people, Wednesday looked at how mental health has impacted families, children and relationships, and Thursday focused on self-love and self-kindness. Finally, on Friday, Joti ended MHAW by inviting her followers on Instagram to share recent acts of kindness that they have experienced. I loved following Joti’s posts throughout the past week, and you can too on her Instagram feed.
If you want to find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week, there’s been lots happening on social media using the hashtag #MHAW or you can visit the Mental Health organisation website. To learn more about Changing Faces UK’s Face Equality Campaign, head over to their website or search the hashtag #FaceEqualityWeek on social media to join in with the discussion.
I hope you are all staying safe and well.