A woman so ashamed of her ‘patchy’ skin she slept in full makeup to hide her face from her boyfriend has launched a her own comestics range to help others with skin conditions.
Mum-of-two Keira Walcott, 20, hated the white pigments caused by autoimmune condition vitiligo from the moment they began developing when she was 10.
As a teen she spent long hours concocting her own foundations in her kitchen in a bid to cover the patches.
And after meeting boyfriend Owen Savage in 2015 she spent seven months applying thick foundation every day and night to hide her face.
Keira feared Owen would find her unattractive if he saw the pigments.
But seven months after meeting her foundation ‘sweated off’ in her sleep and she admitted her condition.
Despite her fears Owen continued to support her – and last September Keira launched her own skin product range.
She said: “I hid away for years under layers of makeup, feeling so self-conscious about my patchy skin.
“My confidence was so low that the only way I found the courage to face the world was if I was lathered in foundation.
“Owen was so accepting when he learned the truth and I knew I had to try and turn my battle with the condition into something positive.”
Keira, mum to Brayden, who’s three, and four-month-old Elianna, added: “Helping others overcome the crippling anxieties I used to have feels great.”
In September Keira launched her own vitamin-packed make-up range, Kandor Cosmetics, after winning a £4,000 loan from the Prince’s Trust.
As well as vitiligo coverage, she ‘healthy’ foundation for conditions including eczema, psoriasis and rosacea – and says her dream is to help other women feel confident.
Keira, from Hitchin, Herts., who is mixed race, was 10 when she noticed a ‘white dot’ beneath her left eye.
She says: “By the time I started secondary school, there were noticeable white patches on my face.
“My schoolmates would stare at me and behind my back some called me Patchy the Pirate.”
At 14 she was diagnosed with vitiligo, which affects just one per cent of the world’s population.
“I was told that I had a strand of the condition which meant the pigments would all develop symmetrically,” Keira said.
“So if a pigment appeared on the left side of my face, I knew sooner or later a matching one would emerge on my right side.
“There was no knowing how far the pigmentations would spread, but I was told that factors including sunlight and stress could make it worse.”
“Ashamed and embarrassed’ about her appearance, at 15 years old Keira started concocting her own foundation at home to cover the patches.
She recalled: “I would order stage and camouflage foundation pigment from overseas, melt them down in a saucepan and mix them together in a bid to create a paste thick enough to cover my face.
“I found that blending makeup with coconut oil, moisturiser and vitamin E extract nurtured my skin as well as covering it.”
Keira left school at 16 and moved in with her then-partner but he made her feel as though her pigmentation was ‘ugly’ and they split.
She added: “He made me feel even more insecure about the condition and I became more reliant on my makeup than ever.
“Sometimes, it was the only thing that gave me the confidence to leave the house.
“Around the same time my grandfather died and the stress and grief only made the pigments worse, until they covered about 80 per cent of my face.
“Desperately self-conscious, I hit rock bottom.”
When she began dating Owen in early 2015, she kept the vitiligo a secret and spent 45 minutes every day applying a blend of foundation pigment, essential oils and SPF.
Afraid she would lose Owen if he saw the pigments, she wore her homemade make-up every day for seven months, even while sleeping and swimming while on holiday with him.
She added: “I was convinced he wouldn’t like the real me and didn’t give him a chance to see my bare skin.
“While most women take off their makeup to go to sleep I’d touch up my foundation before going to bed, then pile more on first thing in the morning.
“Sleeping with so much makeup on was a lot of work and left stains on the pillows.
“And it was tough keeping the makeup intact, especially when we went on holiday and he dunked me in the water.
“Luckily, the blend I created was waterproof.”
In April 2015, Keira joined a vitiligo group on Facebook and posted a before and after photo showing the makeup on her skin.
“I wanted to see if other vitiligo sufferers felt as insecure and reliant on makeup as me but loads of people actually got in touch to see where they could get my foundation,” she said.
“I realised I could turn my insecurities into something positive and decided to launch a business.”
And when Keira’s foundation ‘sweated off’ her face one night in October 2015, seven months into their relationship she told Owen the truth about her condition.
Keira said: “I must have put on a thinner layer than normal as when I woke up it had rubbed off.
“Owen asked what the marks on my face were so I told him about my battle with vitiligo.
“He barely showed any reaction at all, he just accepted it and gave me a hug. I felt silly for being so paranoid and it was a relief to have the truth out there.
“Knowing that partner accepted me for who I was gave me the confidence to push on and try and help others.”