Shop RNIB Donate now

Applying makeup

Makeup application can be a minefield for many people, including those who are blind or partially sighted, so we’ve put together a list of tips on how it can be done.

Makeup application can be a minefield for many people, including those who are blind or partially sighted, so we’ve put together a list of tips on how it can be done.

You may feel discouraged to apply makeup, but it just takes practice and knowhow and is an important part of personal care for many. We have some tips to help give you the confidence to find out what works best for you.

We've taken some tips from VisionAware, a website launched by the American Foundation for the Blind and Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight, and have adapted them for the UK. We also spoke to Sarah, who has sight loss, on how she applies makeup. You can find some of her top tips and video tutorials below.

Products, tools, and preparation

  • Use a headband when applying makeup to pull your hair away from your face. This is especially helpful when applying foundation and eye makeup.
  • Use products that don’t need blending.

Sarah told us: "I use a CC cream instead of foundation because it blends in a lot easier"

  • Keep a wet washcloth, wet wipes, or paper towels nearby to remove makeup from your fingertips. Clean your hands and fingertips after each step in the application process to prevent makeup residue from rubbing off on your face, clothing, and upholstery.
  • Protect your clothing by placing a towel in your lap. You can also wear a makeup cape, an oversized shirt or a button-front smock (but not a pullover style) for additional protection.
  • Keep a small bowl or container nearby to hold applicators, tops and lids. This also prevents them from rolling off tables.
  • Keep a wastebasket nearby for disposal of your used paper towels, wet wipes and applicators.
  • Many retailers have a range of light-up and magnifying makeup mirrors. A mirror with a flexible arm can be helpful. You can also use a magnifying mirror, either with or without lights.

Sarah explained: “I use a 20x magnifying mirror to help me with my concealer and makeup so I can see my face more clearly.”

  • Storing your makeup in the fridge can provide a temperature difference making application easier.
  • Make sure your skin is thoroughly cleansed and dry before applying make-up.

Using sense of touch

Many people who are blind or partially sighted are skilled at applying makeup by using their sense of touch along with the correct applicators and brushes.

  • Using your fingertips allows you to explore the contours of your face, the shape of your lips and your own unique bone structure.
  • Most makeup looks best when applied sparingly and with a light touch. In general, minimal makeup is usually the best choice initially. You can always add more colour to your face, but it’s much more difficult to remove excess foundation, blusher, or eye shadow. For special occasions, however, stronger makeup application may be appropriate. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance or confirmation from a family member or friend.
  • It helps to steady your hand against your face or with your other hand when applying cosmetics, such as mascara, eyeliner, or lipstick, which require precision and control.

Following a pattern

When applying cleansing cream, moisturiser, or foundation, try to follow a systematic pattern to ensure that you cover your entire face and neck:

  1. Upward and outward from chin to ears
  2. Across and up from nose to temples
  3. Upward from tip of nose to forehead
  4. Circular motions on forehead to temples
  5. Gently under eyes from outer corner to inner corner
  6. Small circular motions around sides of nose
  7. Circular motions on chin
  8. Upward on throat.
  • Counting the number of brush strokes (as in eye shadow or blush) or drops of foundation or moisturiser is a good way to be consistent in your application routine. For example, a small amount (about the size of a five pence piece) of either moisturiser or liquid foundation in the palm of your hand is usually enough to cover your entire face.
  • Some individuals choose to have permanently tattooed eyeliner and eyebrows. If this is important to you, the choice is yours.

Sarah suggested: “I do use a pencil which requires a bit of detailed work, but I do get my eyebrows waxed and tinted every few weeks which really helps keep them looking tidy.”

Order of using products

Try to follow the same application sequence each time to keep track of what you’ve already applied. Here is a suggested sequence:

  1. Cleanse and moisturise
  2. Foundation
  3. Blush
  4. Powder
  5. Eye make-up
  6. Lipstick.

Download the video transcript

Further information

Our Online Shop has a range of magnifying mirrors and healthcare products which you may find useful.