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Cover Story : Corrective Makeup and Treatments Conceal What Time Can't Heal


AFTER ASSAILANTS slashed a young model in 1986, pictures of her tragically damaged face appeared around the world.

Surgery and time have helped heal Marla Hanson, but the scars remained. Today, however, Hanson has found a way to look her best--not only for personal needs but for the demands of the camera. The 26-year-old honey blonde, who says she has not had cosmetic surgery, has resumed her modeling career and is now spokesperson for a line of corrective makeup. She calls this makeup her security blanket. Like many photographic models, Hanson says she usually only wears makeup for work, but "I know that when I need to cover the scars, there is a way."

Flori Roberts, the cosmetician who developed the Dermablend line that Hanson endorses, says that more than 1 million people a year are scarred by accidents and burns. Many of these disfigurements--in addition to bruises, tattoos and varicose veins--can be effectively covered with products such as Dermablend, Lydia O'Leary's Covermark or Judith August's mail-order line, Camouflage System.

These products are heavier than regular foundation, but the newest formulas offer surprisingly natural-looking coverage. "Old-fashioned camouflage sticks had a chalky, mask-like look," says Dermablend executive Gail Shelton. "Our product is different because of its two-step process: cover cream and setting powder. The result is natural-looking enough for men and children to wear undetected."

For port-wine stains--a type of red birthmark that can appear anywhere on the body but most often occur on the face or neck--cover-up creams used to be the only solution. Now, high-energy laser surgery is used to eliminate or lighten the discoloration to a point that it can be covered with regular liquid foundation.

For some people with scars or distracting port-wine stains, corrective procedures offer benefits that go beyond mere aesthetics: They often relieve psychological pain. Disfigurements cause many to feel self-conscious, even ostracized, says Dr. Nicholas J. Lowe, professor of dermatology at UCLA School of Medicine.

In the past, procedures to remove scars and birthmarks were considered elective, so they often weren't covered by insurance. But Lowe says those attitudes have changed: "Because such a strong case can be made about the negative psychological impact, many insurance companies now cover the costs of these procedures."

At a time when so much emphasis is placed on perfection and fast fixes--from fat suctioning to press-on nails--people with serious appearance problems may be particularly aware of their imperfections. Some may wear their scars as badges of courage; others may elect to let flaws show as an expression of individuality. But for those who want to minimize imperfections, Hanson says, "at least there are options."

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