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Posts Tagged ‘Grooming’

A blind chick writing about fashion on her own blog is unlikely enough, but what are the odds of being asked to do a guest post for one of the web’s best style bloggers? That’s exactly what happened when Australian image consultant Imogen Lamport of Inside Out Style approached me about contributing to her Stylish Thoughts series. I was stunned and flattered in equal measure and naturally agreed to do it. You can read the results right here.

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Jenny asked me a question as part of a discussion over on You Look Fab — she wanted to know how I go about applying makeup and dealing with my grooming in general. Thanks for the question, Jenny, I’ll be happy to answer it!!

My approach to hair and makeup is really quite minimal for reasons that are both personal and practical. A fuss-free cosmetic routine absolutely fits my personality which shuns excessive fakeness, and my inability to see what I’m putting on my face or creating on my head pretty much demands a simple approach. I’ve always opted for hair styles that I can assess with my hands and tweak using just a round brush and hair dryer. My current bob cut fits that bill perfectly: if parts of the hair are flat, I can feel it immediately and simply fluff it up with the brush. If one side is falling lower on my neck than the other, I can play around until I’ve gotten it back into cymetrical lines. I’m all about natural hair texture, so I use no products on my head except on *very* special occasions when I’ve let my hairdresser take over.

My approach to makeup is similar, though a little more nuanced. I put the bulk of my effort into making sure I have good skin, not messing about with cosmetic combinations that just give me a handful of unreliable quick fixes. While I’m not a hippy-dippy person by nature, I have discovered the joys of natural skin care and have made Evan Healy my skin care solution of choice. Her products are genuinely natural, not faux-organic like “Kiss My Face” and that ilk. 🙂 Her simple products, which feel incredible and smell even better, keep my skin soft and hydrated. I cleanse twice a day and moisturize only in the morning, allowing my skin a chance to breathe at night (the natural oil produced while you sleep is often enough to keep your skin healthy. Try it)!

Over time, though, I’ve come to accept the fact that my face could use some additional polish. This is one instance where I had to put myself entirely in the hands of professionals, try out their recommendations and see if they passed muster with the reliable style critics in my life! 🙂 I allow someone to shape my eyebrows every six weeks or so, since I know they’d wind up resembling a ploughed farmer’s field if I took on the task myself. When it came to acquiring makeup, I decided to compile two sets — one for every day use and another for more festive occasions. My day-to-day cosmetics come entirely from Mac , a brand with sky-high approval from friends and professionals alike. My makeup regimen takes about 30 seconds to complete — dab on concealer as needed, put on minimal blush, apply lipstick and go. Powders, primers and all that extra business are just not on for a variety of reasons: they would undermine the natural look I’m going for, and I just flat out can’t be bothered! Ditto for mascara, which isn’t really necessary with my naturally long, dark lashes.

A couple of visits to the Mac counter were sufficient to sort out my every-day makeup choices. The friendly salespeople made a few consistent recommendations and hooked me up with a neutral-warm concealer , a subtle mineralized blush , and a versatile lipstick in a purplish-pink shade.

Applying makeup is a very tactile exercise, at least with these particular products. Concealer is the easiest of all — find the blemishes on your skin, touch the tip of your concealer pen to the area, then blend it in with no more than two fingers. Sure I may miss the occasional spot that can’t be detected through touch, but that’s absolutely ok — I’d rather have the odd natural spot than look like a painted lady.

Makeup experts taught me how to apply blush by showing me exactly where the apple of the cheek is located. That area is much more defined if I put on a ridiculously huge smile. My cheeks bunch up, allowing me to easily define the boundaries where my brush should go. I’d rather under than over-do it, so I swipe the brush over the compact once, do three to four strokes in a downward motion across the area in question, then repeat the procedure on the other side. I keep the number of strokes balanced for each side of my face to ensure cymmetry where possible.

Lipstick is also a breeze — just follow the contours of your lips. A lot of people have observed me as I put lipstick on and said my technique differs from the sighted approach. I’m not sure exactly what most people do differently, but I’ve been assured the results look comparable.

A picture of me wearing the sort of makeup I apply for day-to-day activities. I'm wearing a black boyfriend blazer with the sleeves rolled up to my elbows and exposing a beige lining, a black t-shirt with a studded red floral graphic, a double-strand of white pearls, slim dark blue jeans and pewter faux-snake ballet flats. I've just applied my every-day lipstick, blush and concealer.

Every-day makeup

My approach for dressier occasions doesn’t change too much. I substitute foundation for concealer and apply it all over my face, swap out the neutral lipstick for a more dramatic dark red shade, apply subtle eye shadow and use a different blush. A makeup specialist selected a Chanel foundation as the basis of this look, since it matched my skin tone beautifully and was childishly easy to apply with its liquid consistency and pump dispenser. I just put a bit onto my fingers, dab it onto a couple of areas of my face, then blend all over with my fingers. The creamy texture makes it easy to spread and leaves me with no doubt as to which areas have been covered. The Chanel Tweed Ambre blush was similarly easy to apply, with its streamlined design and convenient brush. I just follow the same technique as I do for my every-day look, being careful not to put on too much. Eye shadow is probably trickiest for me, but again a knowledgeable makeup salesperson came to my rescue and found relatively neutral shades in user-friendly pencil-style applicators. I didn’t automatically know the shadow had to be applied on both the lid and the skin covering the brow bone, but that’s what experts are there for, right? The lipstick routine is the same as above — I’ll just put on an extra layer for evening looks.

A picture of me heading out for a swankier evening. I'm wearing a knee-length, black wrap dress with a low v-neck, three-quarter sleeves and ruching through the torso. The lace part of a black camisole is showing above the v-neck to prevent clevage. A long strand of cream pearls is lying over the dress and falling just below my bust. A black quilted cross-body bag with a silver chain is slung across my body, and I'm wearing black hose and red pumps. I've put on my evening makeup, consisting of slightly deeper blush, a touch of beige eye shadow and dark red lipstick.

Evening makeup

Of course, on really special occasions like fancy weddings or swankier industry functions, I’ll just bite the bullet and let someone else do it. 🙂

A picture showing me from the waist up as I'm about to go to a much more formal function. My hair is more styled and my makeup is more dramatic, with redder lips and much more detail around the eyes. You can't see my whole outfit, just a champagne-coloured satin top with a v-neck and ruffles that start at either side of my chest and taper in at the waist. The skirt you can't see is black with embroidery in the same champagne shade as the top. I'm wearing a necklace with black, cream and gold and gold earrings to match. The makeup artist played on the gold and made red the only other splash of colour.

So, Jenny, I hope that answers your question. But now I want to throw the floor open to you guys. This is the system I’ve devised so far, but I’m always open to new suggestions. If you don’t think these looks are working for me, speak up and tell me what’s not floating your boat. If you think there’s a shade that’s either too present or too absent from my arsenal, name it. I’m at your mercy! 🙂

P.S. For those who are interested, a site called VisionAware has compiled a really great resource with detailed, descriptive makeup application tips for the blind. I’d never seen this guide when I was figuring out my own technique, but I can absolutely vouch for the pointers they provide.

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I’ve talked before about my need to rely on others for some aspects of my style. The process has worked fairly well on the whole, but every now and then the approach leads to some hilarious misadventures. Take yesterday, for example.

I’ve been going to the same hair stylist literally my entire life. I was introduced to her as a baby in a basket, received my first toddler trim at her hands and continued to frequent her unpretentious, reasonably-priced salon from the time I was old enough to make my own style decisions. I felt more comfortable in a mom-and-pop operation than in a fancy shop; I felt someone who knew me since childhood and understood my major style influence was a lot more likely to listen to my requests. She’s also come to understand my occasional hnervousness about trying new hair styles, realizing that concepts like this are particularly hard for me to grasp. Hair is one area where my sense of touch is pretty much useless. There isn’t much correlation between the way faces and hair feel and they way the look to others (a face that sighted people described as heart-shaped just feels kind of angular to me, for instance). Hair cuts are the same way — other than length and very general shape, I can’t tell them apart, nor can I figure out which style would suit a particular face shape. My hairdresser gets this and has gained my confidence over time. I now let her take the odd risk with my hair secure in the knowledge that she’ll never knowingly stear me wrong. She’s not great at describing the work she does, but she’s excellent at making choices that suit me down to the ground.

So when she and her equally-trustworthy assistant suggested I should branch out and get a few highlights, I figured I’d give it a shot. I know full well my hair could use some additional textural interest, and the growing number of grey strands doesn’t need to come to the world’s attention quite yet. 🙂

A picture of me as I'm about to leave for my hair appointment. My dark-brown hair is chin length in the front and somewhat shorter in the back (my former bob-cut needs a trim)

Me moments before leaving for my hair appointment

Despite my confidence in my stylists, ,however, my leariness was in full force yesterday when I went for my appointment. No matter how much I trust my style advisors, I still get nervous about branching out in major ways. It’s especially bad with hair, since I can’t just pop it off and swap it out for something more flattering if I’m not digging it. When I got to the salon, I emphasized time and again that I wanted the highlights to be subtle, unobtrusive, natural-looking etc. My stylist assured me that’s exactly the effect she was going for — something akin to the look you get when you spend a lot of time in the sun. Unfortunately, my nervousness spooked her, causing her to be extra cautious. When the colouring was done, the highlights barely showed at all!! 🙂

A picture of me walking in the door from my hair appointment. My hair is now shorter with the longer front part grazing my lower lip, and the bob styling is more pronounced, but it's still the exact same dark brown shade as before.

Me returning from my hair appointment...with the exact same colouring

My poor stylist was a lot more upset about this than I was. If there’s going to be a snafu, I’d far rather have it be less obvious than more so! That said, I felt all kinds of guilty for freaking her out with my own uncertainty, wasting a bunch of her time and leaving her disappointed with the results. I would have happily paid full price, but felt even more guilty when she didn’t charge me for the highlights at all! After the judgment she’s shown over the years, I should have had a bit more confidence in her ability to get the colouring right. But therein lies the balancing act challenge, which occasionally leads to amusing results like this one. Next time, I promised her carte blanche on my head…we’ll see how that goes!

For the record, the pictures above also showcase occasions when my reliance on others paid off. The cream straight-leg pants, black tunic and black patent ballet flats were items I chose myself based on fabrication, fit and feel, but the multi-strand turquoise necklace and short brown leather jacket were items selected for me by others. The black mock-croc guess handbag in the second shot was also picked by me (I told you I’m a sucker for great texture)!

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