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4 Tips for Applying Makeup with Vision Loss

4 Tips Makeup application featured image description: a collage of four photos. Top left: Clinique High Impact Mascara, Kat Von D Basket Case Anti-Precision Eyeliner, Violet Voss Ride or Die Palette with the shade Skylar circled (a cool-toned medium brown), and a fluffy eyeshadow brush with text saying '90's GRUNGE SMOKEY EYE'. Bottom Left: Step 1, applying the black eyeliner. Top Right: Step 2, applying the brown eyeshadow. Bottom Right: Step 3, applying the black mascara.

4 Tips for Applying Makeup with Vision Loss

“Makeup is an excellent, malleable vehicle for self-expression.” ~Emily

Freelance makeup artist/licensed cosmetologist Emily Metauten of Emily Metauten Beauty was recently featured on Blind Beauty. Aside from excelling at her craft, Emily boldly expresses herself through her unique and gorgeous style. She has a heart for social justice and is working with Bold Blind Beauty towards breaking down barriers.

For those who choose to wear makeup, you have the freedom to create varying styles of looks day-to-day. Choosing not to wear makeup is a perfectly valid style choice as well.

People who are blind/sight impaired, such as myself, should not be excluded from choosing to wear makeup or not. Contrary to popular belief, we also like to express ourselves! That being said, here are 4 tips for applying makeup with vision loss, based on my own experience:

1. Handheld mirrors

Image description: three compact mirrors and a standing desk mirror on a blue velvet sofa.You know those tiny mirrors that come in powder compacts that seem too small to do you any good? Well, those just might be your new best friend. The only way I’ve ever achieved a detailed eye look is by holding a little mirror close to my face.

Small mirrors, like the ones that come with Sephora gift cards, make it easier to see when applying my makeup. These mirrors increase my ability to see by giving me the freedom to angle and move in any direction.

If you have weak central vision, depth perception issues, blind spots, or a combo of all three like me, handheld mirrors might be extremely helpful to you, as opposed to struggling with distant wall-mounted mirrors. On the flip side, wall mirrors or even standing desk mirrors might work better for you. It’s all about finding what’s right for you and your needs.

I typically use a standing desk mirror for my face makeup (foundation, blush, contour, and highlight). My trusty handheld mirror works best for my eyes, brows, and lips.

2. “Forgiving” makeup looks

If you’re anything like me, you may think messier is sometimes better in some situations. This could be the case with certain eye makeup looks.

Instead of stressing over getting that perfect Instagram-esque cut crease with false lashes and glitter applied with surgical precision, try going for a 90’s grunge-style smudgy smokey eye. They typically require fewer products and less precision – you could call this a “forgiving” look of sorts.

Time to get messy:
  • Try applying some black pencil eyeliner to your lower and upper lash line.
  • Next, select a single color of eyeshadow, such as grey, black, dark brown, or any bright color if you’re feeling bold (this is Bold Blind Beauty, after all).
  • Grab a fluffy shadow brush, and apply all over your eyelid and lower lash line. Don’t worry about being super precise – feel it out, and go slow if you need to. Using a fluffy shadow brush as opposed to a flatter or denser one will prevent you from applying too much product at once.
  • Finish with a few coats of mascara.
Image description: a collage of three photos. Top Left: L'Oreal Telescopic Mascara, Violet Voss Ride or Die Palette with the shade Isabella circled (a pale shimmery pink), and a fluffy eyeshadow brush with text saying 'SUBTLE EYE'. Bottom Left: Step 1, applying the pink eyeshadow. Bottom Right: Step 2, applying the black mascara.
Subtle Eye

If you’re after a look that’s less bold

  • Skip the black eyeliner – select a more subdued shade of eyeshadow closer to your skin tone (perhaps a shimmery pink, champagne gold, or bronze) and apply it with your finger or a fluffy brush in a similar fashion.
  • Finish with one or two coats of mascara.

When it comes to lips, sheer lip glosses and sheer nude lipsticks will generally be more “forgiving”, also requiring less precision to apply. 

3. Practice makes perfect (what is perfect, anyway?)

Have you ever sat in your room with an instrument, playing your favorite song over and over until it sounds a little better? Or maybe you’ve met with your friends at the basketball court on a particular day every week, getting better with every game you play? Well, you can apply the same principle to makeup (no pun intended…or maybe I did intend it). Set aside some time to simply sit down and practice doing your makeup (I like to put on some music or a podcast while doing so.)

Allowing yourself that time—however short or long—to experiment and play with your products can alleviate a lot of the pressure to get it right every time. You can turn it into a group activity – just like the basketball players who meet up to practice together. Invite some of your friends over who are also beauty enthusiasts; practice applying makeup together, and of course, cheer each other on! You can even turn it into a spa night by doing facial masks afterward.

4. Take your time!

Patience is key to learning any new skill, and that goes for anyone regardless of sight loss. Even if you’ve been doing your makeup for years, there’s always something new to learn—that’s one of the things I love most about it.

Be patient with yourself. The more you practice (see Tip #3), the more natural it will become to you.

It’s important to remember everyone’s visual capabilities are different. Therefore everyone’s methods of applying makeup may vary. Just because you do something differently or it comes out looking differently than someone else’s, does not mean it’s the wrong way or it’s not good enough. You are good enough.

4 Tips for Applying Makeup with Vision Loss Image Descriptions:

  • Featured Image – ’90s Grunge Smokey Eye – a collage of four photos. Top left: Clinique High Impact Mascara, Kat Von D Basket Case Anti-Precision Eyeliner, Violet Voss Ride or Die Palette with the shade Skylar circled (a cool-toned medium brown), and a fluffy eyeshadow brush with text saying ’90’s GRUNGE SMOKEY EYE’. Bottom Left: Step 1, applying the black eyeliner. Top Right: Step 2, applying the brown eyeshadow. Bottom Right: Step 3, applying the black mascara.
  • Handheld mirrors – three compact mirrors and a standing desk mirror on a blue velvet sofa.
  • Subtle Eye – a collage of three photos. Top Left: L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara, Violet Voss Ride or Die Palette with the shade Isabella circled (a pale shimmery pink), and a fluffy eyeshadow brush with text saying ‘SUBTLE EYE’. Bottom Left: Step 1, applying the pink eyeshadow. Bottom Right: Step 2, applying the black mascara.