Best disability-friendly beauty brands to know of: Guide Beauty, Humanrace, Kohl Kreatives…
Everything I know about beauty, I learned from my mother. I was twelve when she first taught me the importance of curling my lashes; fifteen when she gifted my first eyeshadow palette — a plastic four-pan contraption comprising earth-toned (read: muddy) hues "ideal" for beginners. She hated lip gloss, but owned close to every Chanel lipstick in existence. She never flinched when tightlining. I took all the advice she dispensed as gospel, mimicking her deft movements to varying levels of success.
Then came YouTube, and the emergence of beauty influencers. I deferred to their expertise for all things in vogue: the intricacies of contouring, or the art behind the perfect arched brow. And yet, it was my mother's wisdom that held true throughout years of fads and trends, hordes of makeup whims and skincare novelties. She had a better sense than I did; a keen intuition as to what would stick around within the beauty industry, and what wouldn't.
Things took a turn two years ago, when she was diagnosed with a thyroid condition that caused muscle degeneration in her limbs. Makeup — once a point of pride and joy — suddenly posed a challenge. She couldn't get a grip on slim, sleek mascara tubes; winged liner was deemed impossible thanks to her limited motor skills; while her favourite glass-encased foundation bottles were abandoned in favour of plastic variants. I sensed her frustration with each disastrous attempt, disdain and despair warring as she attempted to navigate her new reality.
She adapted, eventually. We discovered products that worked best through trial-and-error, scoured the Internet for contraptions and thingamajigs to ease her through the process. It was an arduous journey — one the industry is gaining an understanding of, it seems, with the recent advent of disability-friendly beauty brands. From visual impairments to functional difficulties, here's a comprehensive run-down of the companies to look to for assistance.
Its "artistry made easy" tagline proves to be an apt one. Conceived by renowned makeup artist, Terry Bryant, all Guide Beauty products were thoughtfully crafted based upon her own experience with Parkinson's Disease. This translates to built-in finger rests; comfortable-grip applicators; and flexible precision-tips that easily adhere to one's will. There are only three products — a eyeliner, brow gel, and mascara — within its collection so far, but we trust that there'll be more ingenuities coming your way soon.
This label lends its focus to mascara grips that help steady hands from tremors. There are three main types to attach on your tube: one with a thick grip, the other a ring holder, while the last variant is an easy-to-hold rubber ball. Not only do they fit seamlessly onto conventional mascaras options, they also are reusable and washable, too. In short: a pick that is easy on your wallet and the environment. Sold.
While the brand isn't fully disability-friendly per se, they have come up with an inclusive collection titled Flex last year. Catered towards individuals with motor disabilities, each brush stands up on its own when set on a surface and comes with fully flexible "heads" available in a variety of shapes and sizes — whichever you pick depends largely on your needs, such as if you're looking for a foundation or inner corner eye brush. The cherry on top: all proceeds go to Kohl Kares; a charity that aims to empower folks through the power of makeup.
The secret to Pharrell's ageless visage is now attainable for the visually impaired, too. This is done via braille printing on its packaging, which helpfully details the specific product's name to ensure users are executing their skincare regime to perfection. Big names brands such as L'Occitane and Bioderma are getting in on this, too.