Skin camouflage: Maria's story

Maria Angel

Maria Angel talks about her experiences of living with a facial birthmark and how the Changing Faces skin camouflage service has helped.

Maria was born with a Nevus of Ota, a dark grey birthmark with a bruise-like appearance, over her left cheek and eyelid. She also has a lesion in the white and iris of her eye, making her left eye darker than her right eye.

Her bruise-like birthmark has prompted a variety of reactions throughout her life, although one incident in particular stands out.

“I was at a make-up counter with my husband when the sales lady said, in a very loud voice, ‘Who hit you in the eye? Was it your husband?’

“He was made to look like a wife-beater,” says Maria.

The mother-of-two from Normandy, Surrey, says coming to terms with her appearance has been a long journey.

"Since I started using skin camouflage, over 30 years ago, the range and depth of pigments that they use in the creams have really improved"

Maria Angel

She has been using skin camouflage as part of her daily routine to cover the nevus and increase her confidence since she was 15 years old.

“I was born with a rare condition,” she says. “I didn’t even know the exact name for it until I was in my 20s.

“As I grew up, my birthmark reacted to hormonal changes, which meant it became more noticeable when I was a teenager. 

“It’s a time when you least want to stand out because of an unusual appearance.

"I was afraid to look people in the eye because my left eye looked so different to my right eye.

“As a result, I feel I wasn't taken seriously and I was easily overlooked and dismissed. I felt isolated and meeting people for the first time was always stressful."

Skin consultation

Just before her 16th birthday, Maria went for a skin camouflage consultation and she’s been using skin camouflage ever since.

For a long time, she still held out hope that the birthmark could one day be removed entirely. In her 30s and early 40s, she had extensive laser surgery to try to reduce the visibility of the nevus.

“It was very painful and it was hard for me to accept that it couldn’t be removed,” she says.

“I’ve come to terms with that now and slowly learned to be proud of what I am and not to strive after unrealistic results.

“Living with an unusual appearance is all about how we cope with our feelings and learning to work through other people's negative reactions.

“Since I started using skin camouflage, over 30 years ago, the range and depth of pigments that they use in the creams have really improved.

“I don’t wear skin camouflage at home, but I do find that I rely on it when I am out in public.

“How I feel without it depends on my mood. I can feel very vulnerable, but sometimes I feel quite extrovert and prepared to face society looking very different from others."

She says Changing Faces puts a lot of emphasis on the emotional and psychological effects of living with an unusual appearance.

The facial disfigurement charity recently took over running the skin camouflage service from the Red Cross.

"I have learnt from Changing Faces that people with good coping strategies and good social skills, who have a positive outlook on life, tend to suffer fewer problems of personal intrusion and discrimination.

“I have learnt to adopt more confident body language and to look a person straight in the eyes, which allows you to be on equal terms."

Changing Faces has about 180 skin camouflage practitioners across the UK, working out of GP surgeries, health clinics, hospitals, Red Cross and Changing Faces offices.

There are skin creams for all skin colours and the skin camouflage practitioners will find the best match for your natural skin tone.

Some people may need two consultations to find the best colour match for winter and summer.

If you are interested in learning more about covering a mark, scar, non-infectious skin condition or tattoo, visit the Changing Faces skin camouflage service or call 0300 012 0276.

Scars: skin camouflage

An expert explains how skin camouflage is used to cover marks and scars. Dina, who has hyperpigmentation, describes how it improved her confidence.

Media last reviewed: 19/07/2015

Next review due: 19/07/2017

Page last reviewed: 18/07/2014

Next review due: 18/07/2017

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