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The British Red Cross Society Skin Camouflage Service

Sian Scott
Skin Camouflage Advisor: UK Office
The British Red Cross

Studies indicate that people who suffer from dermatological conditions and skin blemishes experience heightened levels of distress.(1-4) Advice on the use of camouflage creams gives individuals the skill and ability to cover their mark, thus reducing the visual impact of the condition. This leads to increased confidence and general wellbeing.(5)

Camouflage creams differ from ordinary cosmetics in that they have a greater opacity, therefore greater covering power. The opacity of the creams provides an effective sunscreen, although sunblock can be worn under the camouflage creams as additional protection. The creams are waterproof if treated with care. There are very few recorded cases of patients having an allergic reaction to camouflage creams. Creams are beneficial for individuals with skin discolourations, including melasma, or disfiguring imperfections such as: vitiligo, rosacea, scarring, thread veins and tattoos. Each brand has complementary powders, which are essential to produce a long-lasting result. However, powders and creams can be interchanged between brands.

For an effective result the creams must be colour matched to the individual's skin tone. Volunteers are trained in both the necessary technical skills and in dealing with the psychological impact of disfigurement. They are reassessed every three years and required to attend regular update workshops to maintain their proficiency. In addition to these workshops, volunteers receive twice- yearly newsletters advising them of new products and techniques.

The British Red Cross Skin Camouflage Service is available to men, women and children via a letter of referral from their GP or consultant. At the one-hour clinic appointment a volunteer practitioner selects the appropriate range and colour match to disguise the blemish. The individual is then shown the best method of application to give an effective and long-lasting result. Details of the recommended creams are passed to the patient's GP to request them on prescription (borderline substances).


The service now operates over 200 clinics across the UK. Details of the nearest clinic can be obtained from local branches of the British Red Cross
T:020 7235 5454


  1. Hughes JE, et al. Br J Psychiatry 1983;143:51-4.
  2. Rauch PK, et al. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 1991;30:493-7.
  3. Root S, et al. Dermatology 1994;189:234-7.
  4. Wessely SC, Lewis GH.Br J Psychiatry 1989;155:686-91.
  5. Kent G.Psychol Health 2002;17:377-86.