Esther's Insights on Applying Makeup

Esther SmithI always like to look my best and so learning to apply my makeup is something that I wanted to master right away. As you know, applying makeup may be tedious for those of us with limited vision, but it can be mastered with practice. Also, don't expect perfection the first several times, if ever! But you can do it. Remember, the most important thing is keep your sense of humor! Here are some suggestions:



  • Label your cosmetics so that you can identify makeup colors without assistance. I use bump dots to mark my cosmetics. You may want to limit the number of cosmetics you use and use different size containers to aid the identification process.

  • I follow this sequence when applying my makeup: apply the foundation and let it dry thoroughly, then eyebrows, eye lashes, rouge, powder, and finally lipstick.

  • I put my makeup on before I complete dressing. Some people use a white or light-colored towel around the neck when applying makeup. The towel provides good contrast to your face and also catches runaway makeup and provides a convenient place to wipe your hands.

  • Cleansing your hands between each application of makeup will prevent accidentally getting unwanted makeup on your clothes or face.

  • I use a sponge to apply foundation. I put the foundation on the sponge and start at the bridge of my nose and go across my face horizontally to the hairline and from my mouth to the lower part of my ear. Then I do the other side and blend in the middle using the sponge to make sure I have coverage on my entire face. I wait until the foundation totally dries before applying my rouge.

  • I use a brush to apply rouge. After putting a small amount of rouge on the brush, I apply it the cheekbone, using three circles around the cheekbone and then drawing the brush down in the valley between the high cheekbone and the jawbone.

  • I use liquid makeup but some people find using cream foundation easier and less messy. I also use loose powder that I apply with a brush. But you may prefer to use pressed power to eliminate possible spillage.

  • One other thing: if you have blemishes on the backs of your hands, as we often do as we grow older, apply some foundation to the back of each hand, cover that with hand cream and massage it in to the skin. This will also moisturize your skin. But make sure it dries thoroughly before putting on clothing with long sleeves.

  • Practice your technique. Don't wait to try out these suggestions until the day of an important event and allow yourself plenty of time. I found that after experiencing vision loss, it took me more than twice as long as normal.

  • Ask a trusted friend to check the results. I learned the hard way, as you will find out when you listen to my video on applying my makeup and eye shadow, but the results are worth it. You will feel good about yourself and how you look and your self-confidence will increase immeasurably!

P.S. For you men who read my column, VisionAware also offers tips on grooming and shaving.

Contact Me

I'd love to hear from you! If you have questions or comments for me, please e-mail esthersinsights@afb.net and put Esther's Insights in the subject line. I have lots of ideas for this column, but would love to answer reader questions here as well.

More about Esther Smith

Mrs. Smith has been involved in numerous volunteer activities in Dallas over the years, and is currently a member of the American Foundation for the Blind Center on Vision Loss Board and heads up the Center's docent program. She was married for 47 years to Don Paul Smith, a noted inventor. Mrs. Smith is a graduate of Lindenwood College for Women in St. Charles, Missouri, and was a 2006 recipient of an honorary degree from the University of North Texas. In addition, she was head of the circulation department at the Fondren Library at Southern Methodist University for 11 years. Mrs. Smith has three daughters and seven grandchildren. For more about her experiences with macular degeneration, look for the AFB Press book, Out of the Corner of My Eye, in which she shares more of her insights, and view the video Esther and Gwen: A Mother and Daughter Story.


Listen to Esther Discussing Out of the Corner of My Eye

Transcript of Esther Discussing Out of the Corner of My Eye

Esther Smith: I have had the opportunity of reviewing several times the book entitled Out of the Corner of My Eye, and feel it is a wonderful learning tool for anyone who has that condition. The book was authored by Ms. Ringgold, who has had macular degeneration for some 10 years. It's obvious that she's a knowledgeable, educated woman who has chronilized her condition of macular degeneration from being a very slight case to an advanced case. I would certainly recommend either reading or listening to this book to anyone who has the condition of macular degeneration, not only to help you cope with your condition but also for your family to understand how you are coping and how they can help you.

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