Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Makeup 101: Foundation, mystery unveiled

by Sassy Outwater

One of the markers of womanhood is makeup. when you're totally blind, that cosmetics drawer can look quite daunting, but I lucked out. I had a makeup artist and ex-model for a mom, who came to the challenge armed with patience and a great sense of humor, which she passed on to me. my mom gave me eye shadow and blush when I was eleven before I went away to the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind, but I confused the two, and wore green eye shadow on my cheeks my first day of sixth grade. I was stopped by a concerned dorm parent in the hall on my way to breakfast, and sent back to my room to scrub, and scrub, and feel humiliated and scrub some more. It was unanimously agreed upon in hushed voices among the adults--voices I wasn't supposed to eavesdrop on, but did--that blind girls just couldn't wear makeup... it was too hard to teach. To heck with that! I was out to prove them wrong! And thus, my lifelong mission and addiction to all things fashion and style began.

Needless to say, that was not my first makeup disaster, but I never quit trying to get it right. Who knows how many times I walked out of my apartment in college sporting some horrendous makeup mistake? I'd rather not think about it. Chalk it up to the learning process, I suppose. I tried all different kinds of cosmetics, tricks, styles, and ideas... every sighted friend I consulted had a slightly different method to the madness. No two sighted people, I learned, do things quite the same way. My friends would help me do my makeup for shows or dates, and I'd try to immitate their gestures and let them guide my hands. It led to some pretty hilarious accidents, and some invaluable lessons. Stylists and musicians swear by one common law: practice makes perfect... practice, and product. And the knowledge that there is no one true way to get perfect makeup. The key is finding out what works for you.

Now I'm twenty-eight, and a pro musician. I hate to say it, but in my business these days, image is everything. I work in a male-dominated industry, under fiercely competitive conditions. whether i'm meeting clients for dinner, working on a stage, in a studio or in a business meeting with attorneys and execs, I'm being judged on appearance, sometimes more than my musicality. I'm expected to look beautiful and professional, classy and sexy, tough and sweet all at the same time... oftenon a moment's notice, and with no help.

I've contemplated everything from having my makeup tattooed on to just giving up and not caring... going out with no makeup on. I often do leave the house with no makeup on. I am not one of those girls who has to have a gallon of gunk on her face to feel beautiful, or a hundred dollar pair of jeans hugging her butt to feel like she fits in. Most days find me hauling guitar amps and other musical gear with the men in work boots and old comfy jeans. But at the end of the day... I have to put on the stilettos and the makeup and look the part. So I've learned how to do beautiful stage-worthy makeup, and get it right every time, in just fifteen minutes. Blind. It's doable ladies.

I'm joining the Fred's Head bloggers to share my tips with you, and get your take on blindness, beauty, health and fashion. My articles will cover things like makeup application tips, reviews on fitness programs, maybe even how to walk in high heels blind... who knows where we'll go? We'll explore the blind side of anything that makes you feel and look good inside and out. When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you look good. When you take care of your body, you take care of your soul... it's all connected.

So, now on to today's topic, Foundation, the good, the bad and the ugly. If you're just hanging around, running errands or having a casual work day, you can get away with a swipe of mascara, a little lipstick, and maybe a touch of blush or bronzer. But ifyou have some fancy luncheon, conference or event and you need that elegant, classy put-together polish, then foundation is a necessary evil. Until you know how to do it... then it's a friend you'll thank forever.

Foundation evens your skin tone, smooths out fine lines and wrinkles, hides dark spots or blemishes, and provides a base to hold your other makeup like powder and blush. Some foundations just do what the name says: provide a foundation. Others enhance your skin tone, add a touch of warm color to pale skin, or hide your age or zit imperfections.

It's crucial to start with a good foundation, and to find one that isn't too dark for your skin... and here's where a good sighted friend is an indispensable ally. Make sure you get someone with a good eye for fashion or style. If you don't have a sighted friend lying around with such qualifications, a trip to the mall or your favorite salon is in order. Most salons have a makeup stylist who can give you a few pointers as to which foundation would work best for you. But my favorite labratory for foundation-testing is the mall. Target and Walmart and the local drugstore, unfortunately don't help you very much here. One of the most important makeup tips when working blind is try before you buy. You can consult the sales clerks at department store makeup counters or your local Mary Kay or Avon lady, but buyer beware; they'll plug their own product, and that product might not always be blind-friendly. And yes, makeup is just as accessible or inaccessible as any piece of software or appliance in your kitchen. Some are definitely better than others at going on smoothly, blending, and not needing a mirror or eyeballs to apply. In the world of makeup, you get what you pay for, and I find that buying cosmetics I can't thoroughly explore before buying doesn't work for me. So I invest a little more, and get top quality cosmetics that I know will do the job without me having to worry about it. My accessible foundation favorites include M.A.C., Benefit, Bare Minerals, and Urban Decay. I'm a huge Safora fan because they let you try before you buy, so you can feel how the makeup goes on, and how it should be applied. That, and they usually have open packages around, so you can feel how the product's case is laid out,. Believe me, in things like eye shadow... that can be a lifesaver!

Foundations come in many styles: liquid lotion, cream, cream-to-powder, mineral powders... the possibilities are endless, and dangerous, if you're blind. The problem with liquid foundations is the blobs and lines. The problem with creams is caking. The problem with powders is they get everywhere except where you want them to go... So here's how to apply each of the main types of foundation, plus a few pros and cons to each. Like using a dog or a cane, one will be right for you, and one just won't quite do what you need it to. My best advice is to experiment before you buy. Don't be afraid to ask to test at the store, and to ask for opinions. I often have the sales clerk apply the foundation to one side of my face, then I try it on my own on the other side, immitating their gestures, or using my own methods. Then, I ask the friend I've brought or the clerk for an opinion.

Making sure your foundation is applied smoothly and then blended into your uncovered skin is the key to working with liquids. A sponge is your best friend here.

To apply liquid foundation:

  1. Start by placing 1 dab of foundation (a little goes a long way) on each cheek, nose, brow and chin.
  2. In an upward circular motion, smooth the foundation over your skin, expanding outward in circles from the original dab, making sure that all the liquid is rubbed in, and your skin is completely covered. It is important to make sure that you get foundation along your jawline, going slightly under the jaw, and also up to your hairline on your brow.
  3. Repeat the circular gestures on brow, nose and chin, blending each time into the cheek area, so that your whole face is coated.
  4. Use a makeup sponge, and wipe gently around the edges of your face to blend the foundation lines. Be sure to blend beneath your jaw and near your hairline. Use the sponge in a soft, short dab-and-swipe motion to blend, then smooth it over your cheeks,brow, nose and chin in soft longer strokes to make sure everything is smooth. Make sure to blend the small spots like the bridge of your nose, lips and temples.
  5. Use your fingers to add in a tiny bit of foundation over blemishes, then buff with the sponge to smooth out the added foundation.

Liquid foundations are light, quick and flawless, if done right. They are almost invisible, giving you a natural look. But if not carefully applied, liquid foundation looks blotchy, and can add an oily sheen to your face... not good. When you are done, the foundation should be totally absorbed into the skin, leaving no excess on your fingers when you touch your skin.

creams and cream-to-powders can be a bit easier than liquids, but be careful... they're messy. Cream foundations should be applied much the same way as liquid foundations, but when blending them, make sure you use longer sponge strokes and pay close attention to the areas where the foundation ends, like under your chin or near your ears. Creams often take longer to properly blend, and don't absorb easily into the skin, making it harder to feel if they are applied correctly. But they can provide some of the best coverage, and hold your powder and blush the longest. They stay better than most powder foundations even when you sweat, and they leave less shine than lotions. Use a lighter touch when blending cream-to-powder foundation to keep it from flaking off and onto your clothes. Or apply when just getting out of the shower, before dressing. Also, apply cream foundation lightly, as it has a tendency to cake up and look too thick if you use too much. A good rule of thumb is to wash your hands and dry thoroughly after applying the foundation, then run a dry fingertip along your skin. If you can feel residue of the foundation, you've used too much. There's no quick fix for too much foundation. Too little is easily fixed... but too much, and you have to start over. Wash your face, and try again with a lighter dose.

Mineral powders are my favorite foundation, because they are easy to apply, and they don't leave lines or blobs. If you have help in selecting the right color for you, then the rest is a cinch. Have one brush that is just for foundation application. Don't use this brush for anything else in your cosmetics case, and make sure to clean it regularly using a good brush soap, which you can buy at any beauty supply store. Your foundation brush should have firm but soft bristles for applying and buffing foundation simultaneously. Bare Minerals makes a great foundation brush.

Once the seal has been removed from a new container of powder foundation, turn it upside down in your hand with the lid firmly closed, and tap the bottom of the container lightly once with your finger. Flip the container rightside up in your hand, tap the lid sharply once, set on a flat surface, and unscrew the lid. flip the lid upside down in the palm of your hand, and swirl your foundation brush in a small circle around the lid in your hand. Tap the brush on the side of a sink or the foundation container to shake off excess,then rub in gentle upward circular motions on your face, in a patern, just like you would do with your hand to spread the liquid foundation. Go over each circle several times before moving to the next area, covering the whole face, including the jawline, nose, chin, brow and both cheeks. If you are getting dressed for a more formal occasion or need extra coverage, , screw the lid back onto the container, flip it, tap, flip rightside up, unscrew the lid, and repeat the process to add another coat. If you have blemishes, you can use a little extra foundation over the blemish area, making sure to blend with the brush after applying the extra foundation. There are small pointed brushes you can purchase for applying foundation to blemish areas. Dab the brush in the lid, swirl to coat with powder, tap it to remove the excess, and then tap the bristles gently on the blemish. Then buff the big foundation brush over the area to blend.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Just give yourself plenty of time to get it right, a sighted assistant to guide you during your first attempts at applying new makeup, and plenty of laughs to help along the way. Don't be scared of the makeup drawer, it, like blindness, can be a beautiful thing!

For more makeup tips, to ask questions, or to just find out more about my crazy life, click this link to visit me on twitter:

Sassy Outwater, musician, blind chick, yogini, health nut and style junky!

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