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Makeup Tips for People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

This story is part of The Beauty of Accessibility, our series on inclusivity and representation for people with disabilities in the beauty industry and beyond. 

I was 24, working as a medical records clerk and freelance makeup artist, when a small portion of my central vision seemed to disappear. My peripheral vision was fine, but centrally, I had blind spots, shimmering vision, streaks of lights, and dark spots. I figured it was one of the rare migraines with a visual aura that I had suffered from sporadically since I was 16. But when I woke up the next day, my central vision seemed worse; little did I know that I would spend the next nine months being poked and prodded before finally getting diagnosed with an untreatable, incurable eye condition called acute macular neuroretinopathy.

I stopped doing makeup on clients and myself for a full year. Soon after, though, the Instagram beauty community took form and I found myself reaching for makeup again. I was rusty, and the skills and techniques I had developed before did not translate to my new low-vision life. It took me a lot longer to complete a full face, and I knew that no client was going to sit through an eight-hour session that I would have to restart four times due to mistakes. But I had my face, the small collection of makeup I’d been using for my artistry kit, and I had Instagram — everything I needed to match, if not exceed, my skills when I was fully sighted. I’ve been visually impaired for eight years now, and I’ve been doing makeup on Instagram for nearly as long. These are some of my very best tips.

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Base Makeup

1. First, save your base for last.

Fallout can be messy. Save the hassle of cleaning up your foundation, concealer, and contour by doing eye makeup before the rest of your routine.

2. Use mirrors up close and from a few feet away.

Focusing too much on perfect placement and sharp contour in one area of the face at a time can result in a look that’s more heavy-handed than intended. Other people don’t usually get close enough to your face to see the tiny imperfections a magnified mirror might catch. Look at a mirror from a few feet away to see yourself the way someone having a conversation with you would see you.

3. Don’t be afraid of mistakes! That’s what concealer is for.

If I add too much of a face product, like blush, I’ll use concealer and a sponge to softly blot out the mistake, and then attempt to reapply. The small amount of concealer or foundation left on the sponge after foundation application is often enough to neutralize or even completely cover mistakes.

4. Blend with clean brushes.

When I think I am done with my foundation, I take a big, fluffy brush to give my contour and the edges of my foundation one last swipe. A clean brush is a must for this step — you don’t want to add more product, just blend what is already there. Try keeping your clean brushes in a designated place to easily keep track of them.

Eye Makeup

1. Use tape as a guide for straight edges — just make sure the tape has minimal stick to it.

I line up the tape as though I am extending my lower lash line up toward the tail of my eyebrows. Tape that is too sticky will pull at the delicate skin around the eyes.

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