Behind The Business Woman
As a Clinical Psychologist suffering from Vitiligo, joining the AFV was a way to help myself and others using my personal experiences and professional skills. On a personal level, it was an outlet and a way for me to be heard and to overcome the constraints and the burden of the disease.
Back when I joined up, I set up various volunteering activities to psychologically help patients: hotlines, make-up workshops, and speaking groups and individual interviews…
Over the years I have worked in every role within the association and each one has given me a wider perspective and deepened my passion for this volunteer job.
Who has inspired you along your journey with the AFV?
People with Vitiligo inspire me every day when they come to talk to me in confidence, share their doubts and their progresses. As I have helped them, patients have also helped me — nurturing my life, strengthening my empathy and enabling me to accept and live better with my Vitiligo.
If I had to name someone, it would be Dr. Yvon Gauthier who has dedicated his life to this research! I have endless admiration for those who work tirelessly to formulate hypotheses and find solutions. He has never given up on investigating Vitiligo for the benefit of patients.
Focus: Vitiligo & Corrective Make-up
Tell us more about the role make-up plays for patients with Vitiligo…
“Corrective make-up” often allows people to find their own image — one that has been modified over the course of the disease — and see themselves in a new light. Make-up restores and harmonizes the face, boosts self-confidence and allows patients to have a healthy social life.
It is not a miracle solution, it is a simple way to regain control of the image. No longer being “a victim from the condition, but being an actor of its healing.”
There is empowerment in make-up because you either do it or you don’t. It is not imposed on you like a medical treatment, where you might not see results. With make-up, there is an immediate visible result.
We often refer to make-up for patients with Vitiligo as “camouflage” or “therapeutic make-up”? What do you think of these terms?
I don’t like the word “camouflage”— it is a military term that implies that there is an enemy you need to hide from. To me, make-up means beautifying rather than “camouflaging.”
Make-up means having pleasure in taking care of yourself. Words are very important and we need to pay attention to the ones we use. If you make a war of Vitiligo, you won’t win it!
Some companies use the term “therapeutic make-up” which I do not like either as there is no treatment per se in these products. My preference is “corrective make-up” because it can be applied to all genders and children, too.
Tell us about the Vitiligo make-up workshops you put on at the AFV?
I was fortunate to meet Dr. Barthélémy at the AFV who specialized in make-up for severe burns patients. We worked together, mixing colors and finding ways to even-out skin discolorations. What I understood though this collaboration is the importance of having the patient confirm more precisely what is concerning him/her, without looking for an absolute color perfection. This is not what they are looking for. It is more about listening, understanding patient personality, specific needs and lifestyle in order to best answer their expectations.
This highlighted the power of speaking groups. A person will always trust another Vitiligo patient telling them “Your Vitiligo is no longer visible,” rather than a make-up artist.
Since we began, the make-up workshops have evolved from full-days to half-days and hosted via Zoom during the global pandemic.
How is “corrective make-up” different from regular make-up?
These products have a stronger and longer-lasting coverage. The most difficult part of choosing “corrective” make-up is to find the right shade — one as close as possible to the natural/original skin undertone. Finally, lightweight, fluid formulas are preferred as they give a more natural look and a healthy glow.
In our workshops, we focus on using make-up to redirect attention to another part of the face, like the eyes or the lips.
What remain the major challenges with “corrective make-up?”
A good skincare regimen including deep hydration, proper cleansing and make-up removal is vital for those with Vitiligo. Every day, morning and night.
It is also vital to avoid using peels or exfoliators that could be abrasive to the skin. Patients should also add masks to their routine.
In the summer, we recommend using sunblock as a primer before applying makeup and finishing with a transparent powder that fixes the foundation. Then (a little make-up artist tip), spritz the face with a water spray to set the foundation.
What’s in the future for you?
The AFV has lots of exciting projects in the pipeline. As for me, it’s been a long-term dream of mine to create a range of self-tanning products specially designed for Vitiligo patients. I’d like to start working on that!