Last time we shared some make up tips for blind and visually impaired women, focused on how to get prepared for applying makeup without, or with less vision. We talked about the importance of making your own decisions about your appearance and how if you choose to wear makeup, it is indeed possible to apply it yourself, regardless of your level of vision. Remember, I’m coming from the position of a legally blind, slightly clumsy, busy mum, with limited make up experience. So, anything I share will be basic and simple. Now let’s talk about how to apply makeup when you can’t see.
- The base. For simplicity, I like to choose a base that multitasks. Tinted moisturisers and BB creams are great for this and can be applied with fingers. I like the IT Cosmetics, Your Skin But Better CC Cream as it claims to be your primer, concealer, foundation and sun protection all in one. I don’t know how well it really does all that, but it works for me. I like that it has a pump, so I know 2 pumps gives me plenty of product for my whole face. It’s also in a tube rather than a glass bottle, so no rolling or smashing. I just use my fingers to dab it onto my face and to blend it in. Now when you can’t see, it’s best to blend more than you’d think is necessary, just to be sure! The lady at the IT Cosmetics counter in Boots once told me that I should be careful to blend extra well around my nose, so I try to remember that. Another VI friendly base option is the Laura Geller Baked Balance and Brighten Foundation. It comes in a compact, like a powder foundation. It looks and feels like a pressed powder, but as it is a baked cream, it’s not drying on the skin. This is super quick and easy. Just brush it on all over your face, pretty much however you like. You don’t need to worry about technique, but I would recommend doing it somewhat systematically, so you don’t miss parts of your face. It’s a really forgiving foundation so you don’t need to worry about whether it is blended properly. This has less coverage than the IT cosmetics CC cream, but it does even out your skin tone and cover some redness. It also feels completely weightless, like you’re not wearing any make up at all, whereas the CC cream although not heavy, you can feel it on your face.
- Concealer. I can’t see imperfections on my face, but with two young children, I assume I have some semblance of dark circles, so I just dab a little concealer under my eyes and blend with my ring finger. The Flower Beauty Concealer comes in a plastic, square tube, which is handy. If I have a spot, I use a clean finger to feel where it is and put a little concealer on that too. I always blend well with my fingers, being gentle so I don’t rub off the product.
- Powder. Not always necessary for me as I have dry skin, but if you’re prone to oily skin, I’d say look for a pressed powder, rather than a loose version. There’s much less potential for spillage. I prefer a big brush for applying powder, I feel like the spongey things that often come inside the compact would leave streaks. A translucent powder might also be easier to apply evenly than one with colour.
- Blush, bronzer and highlighter. So, I like to use versions of these in compacts, my favourite being baked products from Milani or Laura Geller. These are forgiving, so you don’t have to be too precise, or worry about applying too much. If I choose to wear these products, I count the swirls of the brush in the pan, then I count the swipes on my face. For blush, it’s 3 swirls in the pan, tap off the excess, then 3 strokes on the cheek, in an upward motion towards the temples. Then repeat on the other side to make sure I’m even. The amount of product you need on your brush and how much you want to apply to your face is different for everyone. So experiment, and ask a sighted friend for their feedback (or a nice employee at the cosmetics counter) and decide what’s right for you.
- Brows. Honestly, if you are visually impaired or blind, it makes life a lot easier to have your brows tinted or microbladed. However, I haven’t in the last couple of years, and I have managed to tidy up and fill in my own brows. I use a soft retractable pencil rather than one you sharpen, and it also has a spoolie brush on the opposite end which is convenient. I use the spoolie to brush the brow hair in the right direction then using the pencil end, I follow the natural line of my brows. I use my finger to feel for the shape and oddly enough I can hear when the pencil is on my brow hair, so I know I’m on the right track. I know where the gaps are, so I pay attention to those areas. I finish off by flipping the pencil around and combing through my brows again. This method works fine, but it takes longer than I would like. In the future, post pandemic, I’ll have my eyebrows tinted so my brows are good to go when I wake up.
- Eyeshadow. I don’t wear eyeshadow often, but when I do, I prefer an eyeshadow stick or crayon. I find these easier to control than a brush. I feel the shape of my eyelid with my finger then draw the eyeshadow onto my lid and blend with my finger. If I do use a powder eyeshadow, I find a brush with a shorter handle allows for better aim (if you know what I mean!).
- Mascara. Taking your time and plenty of practice is the way forward with mascara if you are visually impaired. I start by curling my barely-existent lashes with a compact curler. When you use these small plastic eyelash curlers, your hand is closer to your face, and I find this makes them easier to operate than the larger metal ones. I touch the top of the eyelash curler to my eyelid while looking down slightly, then I position the clamp around my lashes, using my finger from my free hand to feel if they’re in the right place. From there, I close the clamp once, then release. I tilt the curler upwards in a kind of pivoting motion that moves the clamp further down my eyelashes while the top of the curler remains in the same place, touching my eyelid. I close the clamp again, then repeat once more, by which time I’ve reached the end of my lashes. After curling, it’s time for mascara. I find waterproof mascara is best when you can’t see, so you don’t get smudges and flakes to deal with throughout the day. I also prefer a thicker formula so it’s less messy to work with. Again, a shorter wand is easier to control at first, so samples and travel sizes are handy to have. But if you get used to the length of the wand and stick to that mascara, a longer wand is fine too. When I pull the wand out of the tube I clean the end of the wand to get rid of any excess. I should probably use a tissue for this, but I often just wipe it on the opening of the tube. Then I move the wand towards my eye. I use a finger of my free hand to guide it to my eye until it just touches my lashes, then from there, I can gently move the wand closer to find the roots. Then I can apply the mascara from the roots to the tips, taking care not to accidentally touch my cheek or nose with the wand. I find looking slightly down is the best position for finding my lashes with the wand without getting mascara on my eyelids. Remember, mistakes happen and they can be fixed. If you get mascara on your skin, let it dry, then it will come off easily with a wet cotton bud. Mascara can feel a little high risk when you can’t see, so it could be an idea to leave your base until last to avoid ruining it with mascara fall-out. If your lashes are important to you and you want to save some time, lash tints, perms or extensions are worth considering, so you wouldn’t need mascara at all.
- Lips. Tinted lip balms or creamy lipsticks are easier to feel where they are on your skin. Choosing fairly natural colours also helps. Just apply lipstick straight from the bullet, then run your finger around the outline of your lips to make sure nothing is out of place. Then put one finger in your mouth, close your lips around it and pull it out again with your lips still closed. This ensures no lipstick gets on your teeth. Lip glosses are a good option too as you don’t need to be so precise, and the texture of the gloss makes it easy to feel on your skin.
- Check. Ask someone sighted to check there are no smudges or anything out of place. It only takes a second and you can hand them a wet cotton bud to quickly fix mascara smudges. Once you get the hang of your routine, you may not need to do this anymore.
- Choose your top 3. When we’re in a hurry, or even when we are not, most of us don’t want to spend too long on makeup. When you are visually impaired, all the products and steps I have talked about here can be overwhelming. So, decide which 3 things are most important to you and start there. For me, it’s eyebrows (which have seemingly taken to fading as I get older), concealer (because I don’t get as much sleep as I should) and tinted lip balm (to add some colour to my face and some moisture to my lips). If you have redness, you might choose a quick base or if your lashes are fair, you may want a little mascara. Don’t feel it’s all or nothing, choose what works for you.
So, there you have it – makeup tips from a blind makeup novice! I hope you found some tips here you can try if you have sight loss and want to wear makeup, but are not sure where to start. I haven’t covered everything here, but I don’t wear makeup every day and on days that I do, this is the most I will manage. It really is a case of trying things out and seeing what works for you. In the beginning you will need to enlist a sighted friend who you can trust to tell you when to stop applying the blush and help you label your lipsticks so you can tell your nudes from your reds, but once the groundwork is done, all you need is practice and time. And remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about having a tool that lets you decide how you look, and it should be fun!
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