I Used To Cover My Vitiligo With Makeup — Now I Celebrate My Skin

For some, a lipstick is just a lipstick. But for others, it's a source of strength, creativity, and expression. In our series Power Faces, we'll explore the relationship between strong women and the makeup they choose to wear — or not. Our latest subject, in partnership with Target Beauty, is Storm Dove, a 20-year-old model and full-time student from New York. This story was told to Jennifer Mulrow and edited for length and clarity.
I grew up in New York, born and raised in Brooklyn. I’m the youngest of four kids, so I’m the baby. Being around strong women like my aunties, older cousins, and especially my mother helped shape my idea of beauty. My mother raised me to learn how to love who I see in the mirror. She always told me how beautiful I am and taught me to be confident and strong — to embrace who I am as a person inside and out.
My cultural upbringing influenced my approach to beauty by helping me not feel the need to hide or be ashamed of anything. I am African American, come from a Caribbean background, and have a mixture of Chinese and Indian heritage. I know who I am and show that loud and proud. It’s allowed me to be confident with my deep melanin and my dark, glowy skin, loving both the dark tones and the bright, vibrant colors.
When I was little, my mother used to catch me wearing her makeup. I would have it in my bag at school, and she would see the lipstick or pressed powder on my face when I came home. I always found makeup interesting because, growing up, I was very creative. I loved to draw and learned how to sew and make clothes at a young age. So makeup was another way for me to express my creativity — but on my face. 


My relationship with vitiligo was a struggle when I was younger. I got vitiligo around the age of 7 or 8, so I went from being a little kid and not really caring about my appearance to suddenly having to care at a young age. I wasn't just dealing with the vitiligo but also with other people around me bullying and mocking me, making me aware that I was different. It was hard to basically get harassed on a daily basis. 

When people made ignorant comments toward me, it would be through social media or just walking to school. If people don’t know what vitiligo is, they’ll assume that I’ve gotten burned or that I bleached my skin.
They’ll even think that it physically hurts, like it’s painful to have on my skin. Sometimes people will yell out at me — and it’s not even just kids, it’s adults too. It’s a lot to go through when you’re 10 years old, to have a grown person say ignorant things about you. 


I didn’t start wearing makeup until my vitiligo gradually moved onto my face, in my junior year of high school. I would wear cream foundation and put concealer on underneath, to make sure you couldn’t see the vitiligo. I wouldn’t say I was trying to hide it — because I wouldn’t wear any makeup when I was home — but it was like a safety blanket for me in that it allowed me to go outside and not have someone stare me down all the time, 24/7. 
But it was hard to always wear makeup. During the summertime it would get hot, and I’m a very active person. I did cheerleading and track and field, and I would always sweat. Thinking about going to the pool or the beach would scare me because my makeup would wash off. Stuff like that. So during my senior year, I decided that when I graduated from high school, I would start fresh and not wear makeup anymore.
The minute I graduated high school, it was a drastic change. On my first day of college, I went outside with zero makeup on. It was empowering because it made me feel free, but it was still scary because it was the first time I went outside with nothing on. When I walked outside and went to class, I realized that nobody was staring at me or making comments like I thought they would. They were treating me like I am a normal person.


Today, I can say that my relationship with vitiligo is wonderful, because I learned how to be confident and embrace who I am. Self-love is really important to me, and I realize that even though I might look different, I’m not the only person in this world who goes through these issues.
Now that I don’t use makeup to cover my face, I use it as a means of self-expression — still showing my skin but being more creative with my narrative. I'll use different looks to connect to my roots. I'll put on black matte liner or full lashes to bring out my Eastern-Asian eyes or enhance the sharpness in my glare. Being Caribbean, I associate bright tones and festive colors with my culture, always high with energy and pride, so I like to create looks that are vibrant and glam.
Since I’m dark skin, I’ll use highlighter to make my skin glow, or I’ll do a dewy look to make my skin feel more radiant. I’ll express myself using different creative colors, like ombre or vibrant spring tones, depending on the season or my mood. With this contoured lip look, I like how the red and pink hues complement each other and create their own unique shade, while still remaining separate.
My relationship with social media has also changed in a positive way. The process of how I post photos and the way I look in them hasn’t changed, but my mentality has. When I was younger, people’s comments would really get to me. But as I got older and became more self-confident and self-loving, I started using social media as a way to show people who I am as a person, on the inside and out, and to encourage others to love themselves, as well. 

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