I follow Molly Burke on Youtube. She’s a huge inspiration, and she keeps me going when I don’t think there’s much road for me to travel. To be one of Molly’s friends would be so awesome. You should totally follow her; she’s fantastic.
I’ve not watched even a third of her videos, but one of the videos I have seen is her Blind Girl Beauty Tag Collab with another awesome Youtuber, Fashioneyesta. I found it really interesting, so decided to swipe it and answer it for myself.
Disclaimer: I’m not the most beauty savvy blind female you’ll find on the internet. Inspirational girls like Molly Burke, Lucy Edwards, and Emily Davison know a lot more about blind beauty than I do. I’m honestly still learning certain things, but I wanted to give this a shot anyway.
So, without further ado, let’s do this!
BLIND GIRL BEAUTY TAG QUESTIONS
1. What is the hardest makeup product to apply as a person who is blind or visually impaired?
I would definitely say mascara. I have really poor depth perception, and I’m more apt to stab myself in the eye or paint my cheek before I touch my eyelashes. Smaller, shorter wands are best, and it’s easier for me to turn my head and blink against the wand rather than attempt to move the wand along my lashes. I’ve even taken longer wands and held them really close to the end for more control. You’ll definitely want to wear a powder free latex glove for this though, because you’re likely to get mascara all over your fingers otherwise. It’s not at all an ideal solution, but it’ll do in a pinch.
I have heard that lash extensions can make applying mascara easier, but I can’t afford having those professionally done right now, so I couldn’t speak to that one way or the other.
2. What is your #1 tip for shopping with vision loss?
If you have the option to shop with a sighted person you can trust, do that. If you’re like me and you don’t have anyone nearby you can drag to a store, my tip would be to know what works for you. Know your size, know the colors and cuts that flatter your skin tone and body shape, because you’ll probably be doing a lot of online shopping.
I, personally, use Stitchfix as my first go to. Their customer service is fantastic, and one of their representatives filled out my entire style profile with me, even though I only needed assistance with a few aspects of it.
Stitchfix assigns you your own personal stylist who selects five pieces of clothing, shoes and / or accessories within the styles and price ranges you specify. You can include personal notes to said stylist if there’s something specific you’re looking for in a particular fix. Fixes can be scheduled to arrive at any interval you desire, from bi-monthly to on demand. Your fix gets shipped, you try the pieces on at home, keep what you like and return, free of charge, what doesn’t work. The $20 styling fee charged to your account turns into credit toward your purchases; if you choose to keep all five items, you get 25% off the entire order. (There are even Facebook groups where you can go to sell items you might not want to keep, but that you may wish to purchase just for the discount.)
I’ve never yet kept an entire fix, but I love its vercitility. I love that I can link my Instagram account to my profile so my stylist can use my photos to select items that are most likely to compliment me. I love that I can get fixes for my daughter delivered as well. I love that I don’t need to pay for return shipping. I love the personal notes my stylist includes for me, and how she gets to know me and my style a bit more with each fix. I love that I can schedule fixes on demand for those months when I just don’t have funds to spare for them, and even when I do schedule fixes, I love that Stitchfix will work with me if I need an extension on a return window until a nearby time that’s more financially comfortable for me.
I’m not being sponsored by Stitchfix. If you click the link above, it is my referral link, so I will get $25 in credit when you check out with your first fix, but so will you. Win win. Honestly though, I gush about them because I’ve had such amazing experiences with them. They’re not always the best choice for things, but I’ll usually try a fix first before attempting to fight accessibility battles on other retail sites. Even their iPhone application is accessible.
Find what works for you, and use that. Stitchfix works for me. I learn about brands I might not have heard of, I find new cuts and styles of clothing that flatter me, and I can take all of that to other sites and stores if I need to. Again, it works for me, but it might not be the solution for everyone.
3. What is one beauty item you stay away from due to vision loss?
I would have to say hair dye if we’re talking about what we steer clear of independently using. If we’re talking about facial items, I’d have to agree with Molly and say loose powders of any kind, but when it comes to coloring my hair, something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, I would have it professionally done. If I tried doing it myself, the end result would look as though every salon within a ten mile radius went all Independence Day destruction on my head.
4. What tips would you give to a young girl struggling with vision loss who wants to get into makeup?
First, don’t assume you can’t participate in this part of being a girl just because you don’t have 20/20 vision. This door, like so many others is not closed to you. You’ll need to find techniques that work for you, but you can most definitely do this.
Next, I would say know what works for both your age and your coloring. If you have a Maceys nearby or any store with a makeup counter, see if a parent, trusted loved one or a friend will accompany you there. Ask the people at the counter to do a full makeover on you. If you don’t already know what colors will suit your skintone or your age, you’ll find out here. Rely on that trusted loved one to be completely honest with you and to work with the makeup artist to select suitable shades for a flattering and age-appropriate look.
As for applying makeup, there are some tutorials online specifically geared toward blind and visually impaired makeup users. Here are a few.
9 things I’ve learnt about applying makeup with a visual impairment.
This was written by Emily Davison or Fashioneyesta (see above) and has some pretty ingenious tips.
If you work with a state agency, request training in daily living skills. They will teach you some techniques for putting on makeup. Not every rehabilitation instructor is magnificent at this, but most have at least been trained in it.
Read magazines online with your screen reader or magnification program, or subscribe to them in braille, join the NFB Newsline, etc. Listen to makeup tutorials on Youtube. Ask your female family and friends (if you have some you trust implicitly) to have makeup parties with you where you can try different techniques and receive visual feedback on the outcome. Make a night of it!
But most of all, sweet girl, just have fun. You’re young. You’re beautiful. You have got this.
5. How did you learn how to apply makeup as someone who is blind or visually impaired?
I used to perform a lot as a child. Singing recitals or the occasional competition, dance recitals, acting once I got to middle school, weddings (there were a fair few of those growing up), so throughout my childhood, makeup was just something that was applied to my face more often than it is for most children. I got to memorize the feel of it. How it was applied, the angle of the brushes or lipstick as they stroked against my skin, the faces I was told to make that accentuated cheekbones or lips.
When I was old enough to want to try applying it myself, I had various instructors and TVIs (teachers of the visually impaired) teach me different techniques for applying it. The TVI and TA team who taught me pretty much everything about anything was Rosemary and Lindsay. They were my best people when I was in high school. I gave them such a hard time at times (it was a boarding school, something I’ll get into in another entry), but they were just the most incredible women. I love and miss them so much, I really do.
Dianne, a rehabilitation instructor I had several years later, was another huge help when it came to applying makeup. She reaffirmed the techniques I already knew and taught me some new ones. After that, it was a matter of practicing and adopting my own ways of doing things, sometimes pulling from what I’d already learned, sometimes drawing upon something I’d read or seen on Youtube.
6. What is one thing you think every girl should be able to do without looking?
I need to agree with Molly again here and say I think every girl should be able to apply lipstick without looking. I find it so easy and it was the first makeup product I was confident about applying on my own, that I don’t understand why looking is truly necessary. I find it to be just one of those things you get the feel for, you can kiss blot if you’re worried, and getting it on your teeth is really not as common as sighted girls might have you believe it is.
7. Do you think not being able to see yourself affects your self confidence?
So far as appearance goes, yes, I do. I grew up in an environment where I was more likely to be insulted than complimented, and in addition to that conditioning, being unable to see myself in a mirror, having to gage my appearance solely by feel can often be very disheartening. I’m not the most fit of females due to medical reasons and, until recently, the inability to use touch screens on gym equipment. I’m very aware of this, I’m working on it, but it’s been thrown in my face many times. When I can’t look into a mirror to reaffirm the positive aspects of my appearance I feel I might have, I do find my confidence tends to slip.
8. Name one thing you need help with when it comes to makeup or fashion.
I need a visual check after I do my makeup, whether that check comes from calling Aira or sending my sister a selfie. I want to ensure everything’s blended well, within the lines it needs to be in, not to heavy or caked on, etc. With other products, I still need assistance touching up my nails after painting them myself, and of course, I need assistance dying my hair if it’s going to be done at home.
That’s three things. Oh well. You guys know me by now. Asking me to talk about only one thing generally doesn’t work.
9. What is a blind girl beauty or fashion essential?
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All right, so, again, I’m agreeing with Molly here. cotton swabs are a must have, both for touching up makeup and for removing excess nail polish from cuticles. For the latter, I like to keep nail polish remover on hand, and there are some swabs specifically geared toward this task.
I also think blending sponges are an absolute must have when it comes to applying certain makeup products.
10. What is the best part about applying makeup as a person with vision loss?
I can apply it anywhere. In the dark, on my bed, in the car, on a sidewalk before heading into a meeting or a concert, etc. I don’t need to juggle makeup products and a compact mirror, and that’s a freeing feeling. I’m not a huge fan of people pressing in on me at all sides, especially people I don’t know, so not having to crowd around a bathroom mirror is such a relief to me. So long as I can get that confirmation thumbs up or thumbs down at the end, I’m able to make myself up just about anywhere.
11. Have you ever experienced any major fashion or makeup disasters in the past that are due to having vision loss?
Not publically. When I was about twelve or so, I was messing around with an unlabeled makeup kit in my bedroom. I wasn’t so great at identifying things by feel yet, so I ended up putting on way too much foundation, the lip liner on my eyes, the eyeshadow on my cheeks, the eyeliner on my lips, having mistaken it for lip liner… you catch the idea. My older sister came in and was all, “Oh my god, what did you do to yourself!” It was embarrassing then, but I look back now and giggle like an idiot. Such a disaster! I’m glad I didn’t try going out anywhere or I’d probably have been traumatized for life. Or, you know, traumatized anyone who, like me, was terrified of clowns.
12. Do you ever have people commenting that you ‘don’t look blind/visually impaired.’?
Oh yes. Not as much when I have my cane out because that’s sort of like waving around an ‘I’m blind, you may commense feeling awkward’ sign, but if I’m sitting with family or friends, it’ll happen more often. Someone will try to hand me something or hold out a pad for me to sign (I get that a lot with the USPS guys) and when I explain that I’m blind, it’s usually like, ‘I’m so sorry! I couldn’t tell!’ Or ‘Oh, wow, I’m sorry! You don’t look blind!’
My love has told me he finds it easy to tell by looking at me merely because I don’t fixate my gaze on anything, so I often wonder how others can’t tell if I’m not immediately focusing on them, but maybe they’re just not quite as observant.
Society and the media often portray blind people as needing to look a certain way to be identifiable as blind, but the reality is that we often just look like everyone else. Surprise! It’s not always immediately obvious.
13. Do you use any pieces of assistive technology or apps to help you when putting outfits together or doing your makeup?
As I’ve mentioned above and in previous posts, I use Aira for a lot of the visual tasks I’d usually need to bother family and friends into assisting me with. I know there are many of us explorers who are not entirely convinced Aira will stick around for the blind community once it has enough funding to grow beyond needing us, so my eyes are open to that. I will use it for as long as it deems us worthy of its service, and if / when the sad day comes that it leaves us behind as most other applications, services and companies tend to, there may be something new to assist with visual feedback. There is always Be My Eyes, though the volunteer aspect of that service means the visual feedback isn’t always terribly consistent.
For now though, if I need help identifying a new piece of clothing or checking on my makeup, I use Aira or Be My Eyes. Once I know what I have, I’ll either memorize the item of clothing / makeup or label it accordingly, so that in the end, it’s just the final check I need help with rather than the day to day matching and selecting.
There you have it, my Treasures, the Blind Girl Beauty Tag! For this one, I’m only going to tag one other blindie I know of who is following me, my beautiful little heart sister, Jenna Faris. I’ll include the questions below. Anyone can copy and paste them if you want to do this tag. Credit, again, goes to Molly Burke and Emily Davison or Fashioneyesta for coming up with these questions. They’re not mine, and I don’t claim to know either of these amazing young women. I just like their tag.
Grab The Questions
BLIND GIRL BEAUTY TAG QUESTIONS
- What is the hardest makeup product to apply as a person who is blind or visually impaired?
- What is your #1 tip for shopping with vision loss?
- What is one beauty item you stay away from due to vision loss?
- What tips would you give to a young girl struggling with vision loss who wants to get into makeup?
- How did you learn how to apply makeup as someone who is blind or visually impaired?
- What is one thing you think every girl should be able to do without looking?
- Do you think not being able to see yourself affects your self confidence?
- Name one thing you need help with when it comes to makeup or fashion.
- What is a blind girl beauty or fashion essential?
- What is the best part about applying makeup as a person with vision loss?
- Have you ever experienced any major fashion or makeup disasters in the past that are due to having vision loss?
- Do you ever have people commenting that you ‘don’t look blind/visually impaired.’?
- Do you use any pieces of assistive technology or apps to help you when putting outfits together or doing your makeup?
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Until next time, my \Treasures, I bid you a fond adieu.