Beauty and the Blind: 6 Make up tips for blind and visually impaired women

Makeup may be visual, but it can still boost confidence and be a creative outet for a person who can’t see it themselves.  Blind and visually impaired women do wear makeup and yes, we apply it ourselves.

Vision loss can affect anyone, so we blind women are as diverse and unique as our sighted girlfriends. Not all of us want to wear make up. Some of us occasionally like to use a little make up as a pick-me-up or for a special event and others won’t leave the house without it. The point is, I would like blind a visually impaired women to feel like the choice is their own, even with less, or no vision..

Today I’m sharing very simple tips, perfect for those who are new to make up with vision loss, or if like me, you don’t like wearing make up every day, but sometimes you just need a little boost. I’m not a make up artist – in fact, I’m not even very good at make up, but i wanted to write this post to show that blind and visually impaired women can choose to wear make up if they want to (even if your make up skills are limited, like mine!). Losing our vision can mean we don’t get to make some decisions we previously took for granted. A simple and seemingly superficial thing like deciding how you want to look, whether or not you want to wear make up, is a small way of taking back some control. Whether you wear make up or not, knowing that the decision is your own, can get your morning off to a positive and empowered start.

Before you begin:

1. Choose accessible products.

The selection of accessible cosmetics out there is not extensive but there are certain types of formula and packaging that just work better when you can’t see. For example, loose powder and glass bottles wouldn’t be my first choice as it would be very messy if I accidentally knocked them off the counter. Pump dispensers are great as I always know how much product I’m getting, and square bottles are a good choice, because if I drop them, they won’t roll away. If you’re interested in this topic, you might enjoy my blog post on Accessible Beauty Products for VI Women.

2. Make your makeup easy to identify

There aren’t as many accessible beauty products for blind women as we would like, but there are ways we can make things a little easier for ourselves. Some products feel the same, especially if they are from the same brand, so we can add our own tactile markers to them to tell them apart. Here are some ideas that have worked for me:

  • Wrap tiny hair elastics around pencils. You might use one elastic for an eyeliner and two for a lip liner and no elastic for a brow pencil. Then you can easily tell which pencil is which, when you pick them up and feel for the elastics. You can also use this trick for anything in a tube, like lip glosses, mascaras, brow gels and concealers. You can also use different numbers of elastics to indicate different shades of lipstick.
  • Use tactile sticky bumps on compacts that are the same size and shape. Perhaps one bump for a pressed powder, two bumps for blush and three for bronzer. Use different shaped sticky bumps to denote different shades of each product if you have more than one.
  • Use tape to mark certain products where raised bumps and elastics wouldn’t work, like inside a palette. You might be able to stick a little tape above certain colours of eyeshadow or a particular blusher you like to use most often.

3. Declutter your makeup bag

This is particularly relevant if you are new to doing makeup without vision. Keep only the products and tools you use most often in a bag or tray, close to where you get ready. Put away everything else to make it easier to find what you need in the morning. Keeping our daily makeup products to a minimum will reduce the time we spend rummaging through endless mascaras to find the one we like. Having fewer products makes makeup infinitely easier and quicker.

4. Find a simple routine

If you are not sure where to start or want to know which colours suit you best, visit a cosmetics counter in a department store. Ask them to show you a simple routine and recommend products and colours that might suit you. You’ll get some ideas and can choose to use the advice that works for you. Develop a simple routine, with minimal steps that you are comfortable with so you can feel confident about applying your makeup each day. If you enjoy experimenting with different looks and techniques and use makeup as a creative outlet, that’s fantastic, and there are blind beauty gurus out there doing amazing work – check out Molly Burke or Lucy Edwards if you’re interested in more advanced makeup application for visually impaired women. However, as I said earlier, I’m not an expert. I’m a busy working mum and if I get time to put on makeup at all in the morning, I must fit it in around getting two little kids up, dressed, fed and dropped off at their respective schools on time. So, today I’m talking to those of us who are either new to makeup with vision loss, or who want a simple makeup routine that just makes us feel a little more presentable.

5. Find the right mirror for your vision

If you are completely blind, there’s obviously no need for a mirror. I can’t really see myself in a mirror anymore so i don’t use one. Strangely, I still look in the mirror as if I can see when I’m getting ready, maybe out of habit. Let me know if you do this too!  If you have some vision a powerful magnifying mirror with a light around the rim can your best friend. Another option,which is good even if you can’t see well enough to use a magnifying mirror, might be a magnifier app on your smart phone or tablet. The backlight on these devices give a brighter image than a mirror. ‘Mag. Light’ is a magnifying app I use for so many things, but as it can be used with the camera reversed, you can use it to zoom in on your own reflection.  This could be particularly useful fir doing eyebrows or mascara if you have some vision. If you don’t have the vision to use any kind of mirror. you’ll need to practice doing things by touch. There’ll be more on this in a later post.

6. Have everything you need to hand.

Make sure you have all your products and tools within easy reach before you begin. Hopefully this is a managable amout of things since we pared down and decluttered our make up nags. Putting all your products, tools and some tissue on a tray with raised sides is a good idea so nothing rolls away. Even better if the tray has sections to keep things separate. If not, try a non slip mat under the items to keep them vaguely in the same place. As always, if you have vision try to use trays or mats that provide some colour contrast to your products and tools. If you would rather keep your make up in a bag, lay out what you need on the counter before you begin so you’re not looking for things in the middle of applying makeup.

I hope these tips have given you an idea of where to start if you are unsure about wearing make up as you experience sight loss.

I realise this has been rather a lot of information, so i will share mu tips for visually impaired make up application in my next post. Make sure you don’t miss it by entering your email below and you’ll be notified when a new post is published. Thank you for reading, I love to hear from you so please leave you thoughts about wearing make up as a VI woman below.

Image shows Ming, the author of A Blinding Light. She has long black hair and is wearing a red top.

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