The #NoMirrorMakeUp Challenge and How I Apply Make-Up
October 15, 2014

I was recently asked to be the face of a new campaign, the #NoMirrorMakeUp Challenge, in support of Henshaws Society for Blind People and their annual fundraising event – Bright for Sight.

The aim of the short film is to raise awareness of visual impairment and the barriers that are faced on a daily basis with simple tasks, such as applying make-up, where vision is taken for granted. The challenge itself is designed to give the public a glimpse into what it’s like to attempt a task where sight is relied on heavily and where there is no way of tracking your progress until the challenge is completed.

As I only have 10% central vision in my left eye, and only a small amount of light perception in the other, I cannot see my own reflection clearly enough in a mirror and have to use the tactile way of using my hands and feeling around my face to ensure I’ve covered all of the main areas. I have developed my own technique of applying cosmetics over the years and am very happy to share some hints and tips on how how to apply make-up as a visually impaired person!

First of all, I label all of my make-up using an electronic device called the RNIB PENfriend. I use the labels to record my voice and take note of the brand and shade, as well as a description of the product I’m using to help keep track of what I have in my collection.

I store all of my make-up in a large floral hat box with palettes at the bottom, lipsticks at the sides and eye shadows located at the top – all of which have very different sized packaging that I can differentiate between (lipsticks are oblong-shaped and eyeshadows are cuboid-shaped, for instance). I grab my PENfriend when I’d like to know the exact product name and shade, and then create different looks based on the colours I have; from natural, to smokey and sultry, to bright and colourful!

When it comes to applying make-up I like to arrange everything on a flat surface in the order that the products will be used, to avoid wasting time having to feel for the product I want to use next in addition to then grabbing the PENfriend to go through what lies in front of me. I prefer to identify all of the products first with the PENfriend, then lay them out in order I will use them – for convenience of time and energy!

After applying a base of moisturiser or primer, I then use a foundation or BB cream. I apply dots of product to the main areas of the face – forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin – and then blend in with circular motions with my fingertips until I’m satisfied that I have covered my entire face. It’s easy to feel across the face to ensure everywhere has been covered and blended in. I apply a light face powder to set the foundation by sweeping across the T-zone, cheeks and chin which are prone to staying shiny.

To apply my blush, I feel across to where the bottom of my ear lobe is and use a soft, fluffy brush to lightly sweep from the bottom of my ear onto the side of my cheek and towards the direction of my nose. I tend not to spend too much time on my blush as it’s very easy to apply far too much product and for it to be very over-pigmented. I sweep lightly and gently blend in with my fingers before moving onto my eyes.

When it comes to eyeshadows – the brighter, the better! I absolutely love daring shades of lime green, teal and turquoise, to compliment my red hair, and over the years have developed a very good awareness of where my lid begins and ends at the corners and at the crease; enabling me to be creative with blending multiple shades together at various parts at the eye (brow bone, crease, outer corner, and so on). For beginners, it may be best just to press a natural shadow onto the lid and go over with your fingertips to make sure that you have covered the entire lid until you increase your confidence and experience with using eyeshadow.

When using mascara, I find it best to tilt my head back so that the wand catches my lashes rather than my eyes themselves! It’s also a good idea to wiggle the wand whilst going through your lashes from left to right to evenly distribute the product throughout your lashes from root to tip and to catch as many lashes as possible. After this, I press gently with my fingertip to catch any residual mascara and to create a more natural finish.

Finally, it’s time to apply lipstick or lipgloss! I favour both, but in the day prefer to wear lipgloss to give a more moisturised feel to my lips. I prefer to wear lipstick at night, or for special events, to provide a more bright and pigmented shade to my lips. As with the eyes, it’s about building up your confidence and experience with the shape of your own lips – so it will take a little bit of practice to get it right! I always double-check that I haven’t gone over my natural shape by gently running a fingertip around my top and bottom lips, and press a tissue between my mouth to capture any residual product that may make its way onto the teeth!

And that’s pretty much it! I don’t use any eyebrow products as I naturally have dark and fully-shaped eyebrows, and I don’t use tend to use eyeliner that often. When I do, it is only for special evening events and occasions to finish off a look. I prefer to use a pencil rather than liquid eyeliner, as I feel like I have more control over the pencil when it comes into contact with the bottom of my lid. Again, this takes practice and patience but can be achieved by following the general direction of the lashes from the corner to the end of the lid, very lightly and as steady as possible.

Hopefully these tips have been helpful and have inspired you to be creative with cosmetics, if you aren’t already! I’m very passionate about make-up and see it as another creative outlet to express yourself. Just because you have a visual impairment doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with cosmetic products. It’s all about finding solutions to obstacles that may present themselves, as with anything when living a visually impaired life! Journeys are rarely straight-forward and the twists and turns provide challenges, experiences and surprises!

Kimberley is friend and supporter of Living paintings

Kimberley Burrows


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