Words & Feature Image: Daria Ansari
Having been diagnosed with vitiligo in secondary school, Keira Walcott experienced a tremendous amount of anxiety surrounding her appearance in her teens and to this day never leaves the house without covering her skin with makeup. Now a mum of 2 and founder of Kandor Cosmetics, the makeup range for people with skin conditions, Walcott is showing that makeup doesn’t always dilute the aim to be confident in your own skin. We sat down with Walcott to hear about her experience with vitiligo, what is was like to begin her brand and how she feels about her skin now.
When did you notice the first signs of vitiligo and how did it affect you?
I noticed when I first started secondary school. I got as random pea sized dot under my left eye, my mum actually noticed it before I did and we went to the doctors because we didn’t know what it was. Nothing happened for a few years and then it just started spreading and I hoped it wouldn’t spread to my face but then it did. It had a negative effect on me, I developed depression because I just didn’t know what it was. Now that I’m older I almost enjoy having it because it’s made my career, I just feel like I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have it.
How do you feel about your skin now? Do you expose it confidently in public or do you still carry some anxiety and cover it up?
For me it’s an essential to wear makeup every day. Not many people have seen me without makeup on, and when I didn’t wear it once in public people did stare, which was annoying. Some of my customers rely on it as well. For other people that have accepted it, it doesn’t bother them. I like showing all the confident sides to me on social media, but then I get people saying I’m a hypocrite because I cover it up. They say, ‘if you’re so for people being confident in their skin why are you selling them makeup?’ and it’s because people are at different stages of their journey every day, someone could be diagnosed tomorrow and they’re going to want to cover it up and then they’ve got to go through the whole process. It’s not just for me.
What motivated you to start Kandor Cosmetics and how did it happen?
I made it because I couldn’t find anything to cover my vitiligo. I started making my own formulas since I was 14, because I had it at school and nothing covered it so I’ve been playing around with formulas for 5 years now. I got the main camoflauge paint from the Red Cross in school but the colour wouldn’t match me and it just melted off all the time so I found where they got their makeup from and got the pigment from there and added natural ingredients to it and came up with my own formula that way.
It wasn’t an idea to put it out there, I sent a before and after in a Facebook group and people were wondering where I got it from and when I said its mine they wanted to buy it. I completed a business course with The Prince’s Trust and at the end of it they gave me a loan to start my own company. I made it my goal to help all the sufferers of other skin conditions struggling with them, and struggling to find something to cover them. It’s not so much hiding who you are but just wanting to feel ‘normal’ for a day. That one day of 0 questions and 0 funny looks can change how you feel about yourself forever.
What are your thoughts on the representation of vitiligo in the media?
I think it’s good for people with vitiligo to model and gain exposure. People associate it with contagious diseases because they don’t know what it is. It would be good to see more people with vitiligo in the media, especially for children because I got it quite young and Winnie Harlow wasn’t out there at the time. I think it would change people’s attitudes.