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This one is about: Face Value

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by Bernice Brooks Bergen

It has been documented that the mouth and the eyes are the focus of the face. In some cases, judgments are made about people based solely on appearance. These superficial evaluations are hurtful for the individual with a cleft lip or other craniofacial anomaly. For these people, learning to cope in today's beauty-oriented world can be difficult.

As a professional actress and model born with a bilateral cleft lip, I learned that, occasionally everyone needs to give the illusion of beauty. Beauty does exist in all of us, even those whose faces are not "standard issue", if we know how to enhance it. I created my own special formula for camouflaging my imperfections, and I'd like to share it with you. I guarantee it will change your life.


1) Make sure your entire face is clean and dry.
2) Apply a light moisturizer.
3) Find a concealer a shade lighter than your natural skin tone and with your little finger, carefully press the makeup into the scars on your face. If you are working with your upper lip, leave a line of makeup along the lip line. Cover with a translucent powder and reapply the makeup. Powder again. The same procedure can be applied to hemangeomas and scars and blemishes of all kinds.

Note that there are several excellent covermarks on the market. Dermablend and Lydia O'Leary are effective. Max Factor has a product called Erase which also does a good job. Local beauty centers have their own products which, with proper instructions, create good results.

4) Apply your favorite makeup base over the entire face and neck, AFTER the above procedure. That's the secret. It blends in with the more obvious camouflage.

5) Powder with translucent powder and buff lightly. Contrary to what you may think, the end result is a natural look.


6) If you have an uneven lip line due to cleft repair, select one of the many fine lip liners that are now available, choosing a shade close to your natural lip color but slightly darker. Find the center of your mouth by marking it under your nose with a dot. Make a small dot under the middle of each nostril. Outline the lips by drawing a line from each dot under the nostril to the center dot, forming the shape of a "V", then continue to the corners of the mouth. Outline the lower lip in the same manner.

7) Use a slightly lighter shade on the inside of your lips. (subtle shades with Matte finish are best, as they do not highlight imperfections.) Then use the same translucent powder to set the results. Outline once more, then repowder. This effectively keeps the outline fresh for the entire day, even resisting moisture. Darker shades are best for evenings.


Never outline your lips too heavily or with unnatural colors, and avoid compressing your lips. Get in the habit of keeping them relaxed and slightly parted.

Remember, you are using camouflage makeup in the same way famous models minimize their imperfections, skin blemishes and uneven skin tones. Yours is just another difference. And don't be discouraged. You may find this technique difficult at first but it gets easier with each effort.

In addition, good overall grooming is especially important. Emphasize your good features. Learn how to style your hair (severe hairdos are only for those with flawless features.) Local department stores offer free makeup sessions which can teach you the best way to enhance your eyes.

Learn how to talk. A nicely contoured mouth is not enough to overcome unpleasant delivery. If you have a cleft palate too, speech therapy and follow-up practice sessions are vital.

Good dental care and appropriate orthodontics insure a proper bite and a pleasing smile. For those with cleft palates, missing teeth are sometimes a problem. A bridge or implants are often necessary to replace missing teeth. Others can be capped. Good dental hygiene is important.

And finally, good health, regular exercise and confidence in yourself and the way you look puts others at ease. Walk tall and look the world in the eye. If you are assured of your own pleasing appearance, everyone else will be pleased with it.

----------------------------Bernice Brooks Bergen is an actress, model and advocate for persons born with craniofacial anomalies. In 1979 she founded FACE of Sarasota, an advocacy and support group for people with craniofacial disorders.

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