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March 11, 2012 5:03 PM   Subscribe

The best makeup to cover up serious bruises and/or treatments that help bruises heal faster.

So I train in Kung Fu and I get some serious bruising on my forearms due to my extremely fair skin and the fact that I bruise very easily. Sometimes the people I train with are a little taken aback by how bad they look. They definitely look a lot worse than they feel. I also bartend so people see my forearms a lot (my uniform is short sleeved) so I'd like to ward off any weird glances or comments about my well being (yes it happens). I don't want anyone thinking that I'm being abused. I'd rather buy stuff off the internet than going to a makeup counter.
posted by MaryDellamorte to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Dermablend Leg and Body Cover, perhaps? If it works for this guy then I think it could handle a few bruises. Looks to be relatively inexpensive on Amazon.
posted by sacrifix at 5:17 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Arnica gel helps the bruises clear up quickly - very quickly.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 5:21 PM on March 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

Dermablend worked well for me when I had severe facial bruising following jaw surgery. (I'm also very fair-skinned and bruise very easily.) Arnica has worked for me for not-so-major bruising (and only when I get it on there very soon after the bruise), but in my experience it doesn't really do much for major bruises, or for bruises that are more than a few days old. I find that icing a bruise as soon as possible is really the number one way to minimize it for me.

Also, just as a side note: easy bruising can sometimes (not always, but sometimes) be an indicator of an underlying bleeding or clotting disorder. My easy bruising turns out to be related to a clotting disorder that went undiagnosed until my mid-30s, when I had unexpectedly bad bleeding from the aforementioned jaw surgery. So in the event you've never spoken to a doctor about it before, it might be something worth mentioning the next time you see a your doc.
posted by scody at 5:31 PM on March 11, 2012

Another vote for arnica: I absolutely do not believe in homeopathy. And yet -- several times I have used a homeopathic arnica cream on what would otherwise have been a ghastly looking bruise, and, despite my lack of belief, it undeniably worked. It didn't produce a dramatic reduction in pain or swelling, but the bleeding that causes all those weird colors just didn't happen, and healing was faster. This has only worked when I've been able to put the cream on almost immediately after the potentially bruising blow -- using it a few hours later, or after the bleeding starts to show up, has no beneficial effect. You could try routinely applying it on your forearms after class -- if nothing else, it's a decent moisturizer. Actually, using it both before and after class might be worth a try.
posted by Corvid at 5:34 PM on March 11, 2012

Response by poster: Does arnica cream have a strong odor or a greasy feel? I don't want to get it all over someone during class if it's going to be unpleasant.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:38 PM on March 11, 2012

Mary, Arnica is the best thing for this. I suspect that whether or not it will feel greasy will depend on the brand. I buy Boiron Arnicare and it absorbs as quickly as lotion. It's weird, the bruises will stop being visible before they stop hurting.
posted by Raichle at 5:44 PM on March 11, 2012

The arnica cream I've used was not smelly or greasy (I think Boiron is the brand I've gotten, too).
posted by scody at 6:15 PM on March 11, 2012

What will reduce bruising is a cold pack wrapped in a towel, for ten minutes immediately after getting the bruise.

As for hiding it, you will need something like Dermablend as nothing less than that will be opaque enough. I would also google techniques for hiding tattoos.
posted by tel3path at 6:26 PM on March 11, 2012

Arnica is an herb, not homeopathy; it's made from the actual plant, not a distillation of it. It is great for bruising, but it works better when used immediately. I use the Boiron gel and it absorbs pretty fast and I don't recall a smell. You can get it at Whole Foods, etc. (I used it a few weeks ago when a glass jar full of beans fell out of an upper cabinet and hit my forearm, hard enough that I was at first worried it may have broken something, and the bruise barely ever showed up.)

Dermablend is the make up you want.
posted by min at 6:49 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I cover up tattoos sometimes - dermablend is a gold standard but if you're going to be using it frequently, sally hansen's airbrush legs is about $10-15 cheaper depending on where you buy it.
Hard Candy's glamoflauge is pretty popular lately, too - but it's a smallish container so it'll probably run more costly.
The trick with glamoflauge that's worth using to cover up anything else is it comes with a skin tone pencil (you can phone order a chromograpic pencil from MAC pro, or buy glamoflauge and use the one provided) that you can use to kind of color in the bruise and then use either the concealer/dermablend/airbrush legs product for full coverage. I've noticed the skin-tone pencil really makes a big difference. If you use the concealer try to set it with translucent powder afterwards.
Sally Hansen is available everywhere and on; hard candy seems to be only available at
posted by ruevian at 7:02 PM on March 11, 2012

Seconding Dermablend or if you know theater people, any sort of stage makeup will work well to help cover up the bruises. You may need to do some research into what colors will cancel out the predominant color in your bruises (like green cancels out red), and buy a base in that color and then cover with Dermablend or whatever makeup you use.
posted by echo0720 at 7:02 PM on March 11, 2012

off-topic maybe? ..Is there anything you can wear that will help explain your interest in martial arts? A pin or necklace? anything that can help to explain what's going on before you get questions...just a thought.
posted by calgirl at 7:21 PM on March 11, 2012

I've taught kung fu for years and we have a special herbal medicine we use for this called "dit da jow".

Dit da jow is a traditional medicine, used for centuries by martial artists for bruising and toning the skin and muscles. Apply before you train and it seems to help tone the skin and minimize bruising, though I've done no control experiments to confirm this. I'm a real scientist as well as a kung fu instructor, so I tend to take a dim view of anecdotal results, but have been favorably impressed with the jow I make. YMMV.

Literally, "get hit, fall down wine", dit da jow comes in a wide variety of recipes, but mine contains primarily comfrey and arnica, both of which are excellent for bruising. Cinnamon, cayenne, witch hazel, angelica and a couple of other herbs in there, extracted with grain alcohol, steeped over several weeks.

The jow I make leaves no oily residue (it's alcohol-based, which is also toning, but can dry the skin, so using a moisturizer later is helpful). However, it is quite fragrant! I add a bit more cinnamon to mine, which makes it wonderfully warming and helps offset the angelica smell nicely. If you make your own ( you can find recipes online), you can apply before training and then it will be absorbed well before you're finished with your workout, so once you shower, the smell will be gone.

In any event, both arnica and comfrey are well known as herbs for bruising and toning the skin. Witch hazel is well known as a skin toner. Cinnamon and cayenne help warm the skin, bringing more blood flow to the area and assisting (I believe) in oxidizing/flushing out bilirubin/biliverdin from a bruise (the pigments). So even if you don't use dit da jow, those herbs might be helpful in other preparations.

Happy training!
posted by darkstar at 7:34 PM on March 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Er...that should say "well known for alleviating bruising and toning the skin." :)
posted by darkstar at 7:44 PM on March 11, 2012

I would just like to mention arnica creams come in both homeopathic and non-homeopathic? extractive? formulations. Both effective, imho.

I had never thought of putting some on before a bashy activity though. Hmmm ...
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:38 PM on March 11, 2012

I've heard vitamin C helps, so I take it.

I accidentally bought the homeopathic arnica gel rather than the, uh, actual arnica gel. I tried it head to head on different bruises with aloe as a control, and the homeopathic arnica worked much better. Like Corvid, I don't believe in homeopathy, but this stuff works for me.

Rubbing bruises can help healing, too, although I think it can also make them more obvious at first.
posted by momus_window at 9:31 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Arnica doesn't do anything. But if you rub the bruise soon after you get it it helps move the blood back out of the tissue and away from the skin surface so it doesn't show as much. That's all anyone is seeing when they use creams or whatever, and you can do that just as easily with no cream at all. It also explains why arnica only works for scody on new bruises that aren't too serious.
posted by shelleycat at 1:21 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, and a cold pack or ice will also help if used immediately because that will help contract the blood vessels and promote clotting, stopping you from bleeding as much and thus reducing the bruise (since a bruise is just mild internal bleeding). It can also help stop swelling in general, making it all less sore and inflamed. Personally I'd do that rather than any kind of rubbing because I'd be worried the rubbing was causing more damage, but it probably depends on what kind of bruise you have.
posted by shelleycat at 1:26 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm mostly here to read the replies, as I bruise pretty easily, but for what it's worth, if you take any Vitamin E or Fish Oil, I would cut back on it by 50%. I did so a couple months ago and it's helped tremendously... I bike and often get banged up hauling it around, and I've gotten way fewer bruises since I've been more mindful of potential blood thinners.

Ice immediately, and then for longer-term healing I have read that hot baths/using a heating pad will help the blood disperse and break down/reabsorb. I have read that you should not rub the bruise afterward, as that just encourages more bruising. Light massage after 24 hours or something, with the heat application.
posted by Sayuri. at 12:14 PM on March 12, 2012

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