Around one 1% of all people on the planet suffer from vitiligo. It affects all races and ages equally, but loss of pigment is obviously more noticeable a the darker your skin is. So it is more noticeable when someone like Michael Jackson suffers from it. Although it doesn’t exhibit any other symptoms, having unusual skin pigmentation is a distressing condition – most of us really want to look as normal as possible. I worked on a project to develop a product that would cure vitiligo some years ago. It was a really exciting time. It is rare that an incurable disease is beaten, and we thought we had. Unfortunately, as is the way of these things, it didn’t get through the clinical stage.
I was interested to see that somebody had come up with a vitiligo treatment idea, and was looking for investment on the BBC’s Dragons Den show. And it was something which attracted interest from the Dragon investors. I think they were onto something. Vitiligo is a very prevalent disease across the whole world. There is still, unfortunately, no cure. Sorry about that, I did my best. So in the absence of any proper medical treatment the only option is to cosmetically cover the affected areas.
If you think you have problems getting the results you want from your makeup imagine having to cope with patches of skin a completely different colour to the rest of it. This is the daily problem faced by vitiligo sufferers. This isn’t a cure of course, but until someone comes up with one this is all they can do. There have been a number of products that have taken on the task of heavily disguising skin disfigurements in general, and these have generally been pretty effective. But the thing is that vitiligo is a very specific kind of disfigurement. You have skin that is to all intents and purposes normal, just lacking in pigment. This means that you don’t so much want to cover it up as to tint it to blend in with the rest of the skin. You also need to bear in mind that the affected areas are much more prone to be affected by the sun than skin with its full pigment compliment.
So what you really need is someone to take a close look at the problem and come up with optimal formulations for colouring and protecting the skin.
None of this is rocket science, but it does need a very dedicated approach. So who better to do so than someone who suffers from vitiligo themselves and who is motivated to devote the hours needed to getting it just right. And this is just what the woman called Sally who turned up on the Dragon’s Den did. She was pitching it to get some investment to grow her business, and it doesn’t surprise me that she was successful. Her company is called Vitlilglow and hopefully now it has got this exposure it should become better known to people who could benefit from it.
I haven’t actually looked at the products, and even if I did as a non-sufferer I guess my opinion would not be tremendously well informed. But in so far as you can tell, the response from people who need and have used these products has been pretty positive. I think there is a real need for this kind of approach so I hope it does well. I think a bit of competition would be positive too, so if anyone is looking for a good business idea something along similar lines is something well worth considering.