Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The #blindgirlbeauty Tag!

Welcome to the #blindgirlbeauty tag!

I was nominated by Emily Davison of fashioneyestawho teamed up with VI blogger and YouTuber Molly Burke, to share tips and tricks for applying make-up, piecing outfits together, selecting accessories and generally defying the stereotypes of what people think a blind person should look like. You are more than welcome to take part too! Simply use the hashtag #blindgirlbeauty, share on your social media accounts and nominate your friends!

What is the hardest product to apply as a
person who is blind or visually impaired?
For me, the hardest product to apply is lipstick; especially when it's well used and no longer holds its original pointed shape. Throughout the process of application I worry about getting it all over and completely missing the outline of my lips, so end up taking such a long time with it. To aid me, I'll either use my hand as a barrier against the edges of my lips or apply in small amounts to the middle of my lips and then use my fingers to blend it out. A sighted pair of eyes is always needed to ensure it looks clean, well-defined and as natural as possible! I much prefer to use a lipgloss from a squeezy tube so that I have control over the amount I'm using and its distribution as I'm spreading it.

What is your number one tip for shopping with vision loss?
Take your time, enjoy yourself and don't feel pressured into buying anything that doesn't feel right to you. Shop with a best friend or close family member for the best results or ask a shop assistant if you need an opinion on what looks best from a sighted perspective - though do follow your own initiative as well. Something may look good on you in someone else's eyes, but if you feel it's not really representative of "you" and you don't feel comfortable then take that into consideration as well. I enjoy shopping online, reading the various descriptions of cosmetics, clothing and accessories with the VoiceOver functionality built-in to my MacBook, so don't always feel you that have to endure the hustle and bustle of going into a busy store in order to purchase what you want. It can be done at home instead and the excitement comes with the waiting!

What is the one beauty item you stay away from due to vision loss?
Tanning products! They are so easy to get wrong, either by applying too much or accidentally creating a streaky / patchy look, so I tend to stay away completely. As someone with naturally auburn hair (though enhanced professionally to create a more noticeable look), therefore having a very fair and freckled complexion, I embrace my paleness instead and avoid being pressured into feeling like I have to be spray-tanned in order to feel beautiful showing my skin in the summer months. I'm pale and proud!

As I also mentioned I have my hair coloured professionally. I avoid boxed dyes as I wouldn't have the first clue as to whether I've applied the dye evenly to my roots and throughout the rest of my hair, and I don't trust that it will be healthy enough for my dry and thick locks. Not to mention the mess I would most certainly make in the bathroom! I feel much more comfortable consulting a professional who has seen my natural reddsih-brown shade, knows how I want it to look (Florence Welch and Merida from Brave were the main inspirations behind taking my shade to the next level in early 2012!) and do so in the correct way that is safe and nourishing to my hair.

What tips would you give to a young girl struggling
with vision loss who wants to get into makeup?
Experiment and have fun. You will learn from your mistakes and get better with practice. Get used to the shape of your face and where your features are, and stick to shades that best match your complexion and skin tone. Invest in good-quality cosmetics, brushes and accessories for the best results when you feel you have mastered the basics. If you are severely visually impaired like myself, or blind, and don't have enough useful vision - use a handheld Braille labeller or RNIB PenFriend to label your products, listing their shades, so that you can identify your cosmetics and create different looks independently without needing the assistance of a sighted person.

How did you learn to apply make-up as
someone who is blind or visually impaired?
I first discovered make-up when I was 14 years old and I still remember the first products I ever bought. I used cheaper brands to start with while I was still learning the application process and getting familiar with the shape of my face, eventually investing in higher-quality cosmetics, that don't test on animals, as I got better and started to enjoy putting my make-up on without sight. Practice makes perfect, so rest assured I made a lot of mistakes to begin with!

What is the one thing you think every girl
should be able to do without looking?
Mascara and blush are by far the easiest products to apply - so everyone should be able to do these two without looking in the mirror. Applying mascara may sound daunting to someone with a visual impairment but once you get the hang of it it can be a very quick process. Simply tilt your head back so that the wand, or mascara's brush, catches your lashes - rather than poking out your eye! - and wiggle whilst applying to evenly distribute the product through. To finish, I tend to run my finger over my lashes just to catch any excess product and prevent it from clumping. Blush, or a bronzer if you prefer, is also an easy task. Find the bottom of your ear lobe and use this as a guide of where to apply on the apples of your cheeks. Sweep lightly from the direction of your ears to start with and gradually build it up for a more natural look.

Do you think not being able to see
yourself affects your self-confidence?
Absolutely not. Just because I can't see my own reflection doesn't mean I can't feel beautiful. Beauty is not a visual thing; it's how you perceive yourself to be from your character and your actions. Knowing the time and effort I have put into my appearance - through choosing my outfit, applying my make-up, and selecting matching accessories - elevates my self-confidence and sense of worth, giving me a foundation on which to start my day. Of course, this won't necessarily be the same for someone else with a visual impairment. Feeling beautiful in an individualistic thing. It's about how I feel and not how I look!

Name one thing you need help with
when it comes to beauty or fashion
Applying nail varnish. My mum still does this for me while I'm in the process of figuring out how best to do it on my own. I have tried a few methods such as adding tape around my nail as a guide, but found that it still wasn't as accurate as I would have liked it to be and was rather fiddly to do! I've also tried applying a small blob of varnish to the centre of my nail and then slowly, using circular motions, spreading it outwards - but again this hasn't been as successful as I would have liked and I still manage to paint over my nail onto the surrounding skin of my fingers. Using a corrector pen isn't always helpful as I will take varnish off from my nail if I don't aim it correctly. I will get there eventually but this is something I clearly need to practice!

What is a blind girl beauty or fashion essential?
I think one beauty essential that every girl needs is a good lipgloss or lipstick, depending on your preference. It's the basis of a look and nourishes your lips at the same time whilst giving a pop of colour. A fashion essential is a good pair of comfortable, yet stylish, shoes and a handbag that matches and sets off your overall look. Always try to colour co-ordinate as much as possible!

What is the best part about applying
make-up as a person with vision loss?
Feeling a sense of accomplishment at doing something so visual, independently, without relying on the aid of a mirror. Knowing that your looks from any two days will never be the same, and being unique with your perspective and approach to beauty and applying products.

Have you ever experienced any major fashion or make-up
disasters in the past that are due to having vision loss?
Of course! I previously mentioned that I remember the first ever products I bought when I first got into cosmetics; these included a lilac glitter eyeshadow, bronze blush and a baby pink lipstick - and I am squirming as I type! The colours sounded cute to me when described but as someone with a severe visual impairment I didn't quite have the sufficient vision to see just how garish they were. My choices were a disaster in themselves though it was the early 2000's, at the height of the frosted make-up trend and butterfly clips, so I think I can be forgiven for my choice in mis-matched and daring pastels!

Also in the early days of my make-up use, I could never quite find an ivory foundation that matched my pale skin tone so would have to settle for whatever was available in Boots or Superdrug at the time. This was, more often than not, a slightly darker and more yellow-based foundation than what I wanted!

Do you ever have people commenting that
you don't look blind / visually impaired?
I did before I chose to wear UV glasses in 2008 and before I qualified with my Guide Dog in 2014; people just thought I was clumsy when I bumped into things or had sensitive eyes because they flutter and move often with my condition. I don't get it too much anymore, but still do receive a lot of comments such as "You are so pretty for a blind person" - whatever that is supposed to mean!

Do you use any pieces of assistive technology or apps to help you
when putting outfits together or doing your make-up?
The RNIB PenFriend, Dymo Braille labeller and a Colour ID app on my iPhone are all essentials and lifesavers! I use the handheld Dymo Braille labeller to label up my cosmetics, creams, and shampoo and conditioner and the RNIB PenFriend with small labels (that I vocally record onto) to identify my make-up products, with machine-washable labels for my clothes. The Colour ID app on my iPhone helps me to distinguish what colour an item of clothing is, along with any colours within intricate patterns in the fabric, when I'm unsure because of varying light conditions that affect my remaining sight. Anything else, such as choosing accessories or shoes, is identified by touch as I love tactile pieces incorporating sequins, jewels and pearls.

Don't forget to check out Emily's #blindgirlbeauty tag blog post and video as well as Molly's video to find out their answers to the above questions. Both ladies are fantastic for all things inclusivity and fashion!