Cosmetic Camouflage

Camouflage makeup (CM) is very useful after surgery or trauma.  It also allows patients with many common skin conditions to achieve a natural appearance that cannot be achieved with conventional makeups.  These conditions include birthmarks, acne, rosacea, jaundice, melasma, “liver spots”, vitiligo, facial vessels, and scars.

Camouflage makeup provides immediate appearance normalization.  It is easy to apply and safely and effectively masks bruising, redness, and brown discoloration.  Use of CM allows patients to confidently go out in public much sooner after surgery and trauma and appear normal immediately while treating other skin conditions.

Camouflage makeup cannot correct the appearance of swelling, raised or depressed scars, deep furrows, smooth texture changes from scars, and very dark bruising.

Camouflage makeups are very different from store-bought concealers or color-tinted “correctors.” Camouflage makeups cover imperfections completely, using opaque colors, precisely matched to each patient’s normal skin color.  Single-color concealers cannot correct discolorations on the many different natural skin tones of human skin.  Most patients, untrained in color matching and makeup end up with less-than-desirable results using these products.  Although their imperfections may be diminished, they are not completely masked.

There are two main forms of CM:  Specialized foundations and mineral makeups.

Specialized CM foundations are often offered by formally trained camouflage makeup artists, who work closely with dermatologists, often in their offices.   This is because they require more detailed instruction for proper use.  These foundations can camouflage most forms of skin discoloration.  They can adhere to smooth, pore-less areas (such as burn scars), are heat, movement, water and sweat resistant, long lasting, will not cause acne, and contain potent sun blocks.

Mineral makeups have greatly improved the availability and ease of application of CM.  They are crushed inert minerals in powder form very useful for less intense post-surgical and post-traumatic skin changes and nearly all other causes of skin discoloration.  They are hypoallergenic, water-resistant and will not cause acne.  Mineral makeups can be applied with a brush for a light finish or with a sponge for heavier concentrations of color.  They can also be mixed with water to make a highly concentrated concealer and with sunscreens to make a tinted sunscreen.

Your doctor can help you find a properly trained camouflage makeup artist or esthetician experienced in the use of camouflage makeup.


1) Steinman, D.A. and Steinman, H.K:  Skin camouflage, pg 107 – 115 in Atlas of Cosmetic Surgery, 2nd Edition  Saunders Elsevier, Inc., 2009

2) Steinman, H.K: Cosmetic Camouflage. American Academy of Dermatology Dialogues in Dermatology 61(5), February 2008.

3) Aydogdu E, et. Al., Postoperative camouflage therapy in facial aesthetic surgery. Aesthetic Plast Surg 2005; 29(3):190-4.

4) Holme SA, Beattie PE, Fleming CJ. Cosmetic camouflage advice improves quality of life. Br J Dermatol 2002; 147(5):946-9.

Diedre A. Steinman
Paramedical Camouflage Makeup Artist

Howard K. Steinman, M.D.

Associate Professor of Dermatology
Director, Dermatologic and Skin Cancer Surgery                                                                                        Department of Dermatology                                                                                                                       Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center College of Medicine