Spoonie Guide: Basic Eye Makeup

Hello everyone, and welcome back to my blog. Today is my first guide geared specifically toward those with chronic illness/pain/disability or “Spoonies” (click that link if you’d like to learn more). If you’re reading this, you’re probably a spoonie, and will be familiar with the terms I will be using. If not, I’ll be including links so you can click on a word you’re not familiar with in order to read more about it. Also, if you have chronic pain/chronic illness/disability and do not identify as a spoonie, I apologize. That’s how I identify, and just for the purpose of saving my fingers from too much typing, I’ll be using spoonie as an umbrella term to include everyone listed above.

I think an additional disclaimer is needed for this post. I will not tolerate any ableist or abusive comments or language in the comments or on other social media surrounding this post. I am not insinuating anyone should, or “needs” to use makeup. I’m not an expert in disability nor makeup. I’m sharing what I’ve learned and what I know, in the hopes it will help YOU. Makeup is not needed for confidence. While it can be used as a tool to boost your confidence, no one “needs” it. It’s a choice and a form of self-expression. Therefore, I don’t want any anti-makeup people here either. Don’t push your ideals onto others who may be trying to learn something new.

If you aren’t aware, I have an autoimmune disease as well as fibromyalgia and regular osteoarthritis. Long story short, I’m in constant pain, and sometimes shakiness and weakness in my muscles and joints make it impossible to do certain things. Put another way, I’m disabled in certain ways on certain days.

According to the U.S. Census, I’m in the company of about 19% of Americas who are also disabled. Not only that, but I’ve had direct questions from spoonies on Twitter, asking for help with eye makeup. Tremors, weakness, pain, and many other factors can affect the hands of spoonies, making it very difficult to apply makeup properly. Don’t fret – that’s why I’m here.

This post will in no way cover everyone’s disabilities or troubles surrounding makeup application. Everyone is unique, and I can only speak from what I have learned, but together, we can make this post a place where others can come for help with the same questions that you’ve probably had. I also want share viable and affordable tips – I know a lot of spoonies don’t have much income, so I don’t want to be suggesting “go to a salon” as your solution. As your tips and questions come in, I can expand this post, and create additional posts for other types of makeup that may give you trouble. Let’s go!

I recommend applying eyeshadow first, then liner, then mascara, and finally, other face products and foundation and I’ll explain why below. You don’t have to go in this order – a lot of people do it opposite! It’s about what you’re comfortable with, and what works better for you. I know there are so many possibilities for makeup, but I’ll only be talking about the most simple steps. YouTube is your friend if you’re looking for how-to’s on more complicated techniques and styles. Check out some of my favorite YouTubers for some videos you can start with if you’d like.

Get as comfortable as possible

DOSE UP! This might seem like a given to those that don’t deal with brain fog, but spoonies know its really easy to forget to take medicine, eat, and drink enough water at the appropriate times throughout the day. That’s just the way it is for us. Before you start doing something like your makeup, you’ll want to make sure you’ve taken your medication, and are hydrated, fed, and ready to get to painting your face.

SIT DOWN! The idea of standing to do my makeup is terrifying, that’s why I don’t do it. For spoonies makeup application takes longer, because we have to take breaks, and make adaptations in order to do things. Find somewhere comfortable to sit with a large mirror. A magnified mirror also helps a ton with so many issues. Make sure you have good, natural light, and if that’s not possible, make sure you’re not depending on a fluorescent light to do your makeup. Things are going to look very different in alternate lighting.

GET YOUR AIDS! If you wear braces on your arms or hands, or use k-tape, make sure you have all of your aids with you. You can use soft rubber bands to lash your brushes or tools to your fingers or braces. They’re a cheap alternative to pen grips that will make your tools easier to grasp and keep ahold of.

RELAX, TAKE YOUR TIME! Make sure you allot yourself plenty of time for makeup application. If you’re going somewhere you won’t want to be rushing – in my case, rushing increases my anxiety and doesn’t help the tremor situation at all!

GRAB A FRIEND! You may need help opening and closing products – don’t be afraid to ask for help if you have it. Facetime, Skype, Snapchat and other video-type calls may be helpful if you have someone you trust elsewhere to give your makeup a check once you’re done. Are things blended and even? Does something need cleaning up? Did you forget to do one of your eyes (I’ve gone to work with only one eye lined before, and I’ve got two)?

HAVE YOUR LOOK IN MIND The last thing you want to do is sit down all ready to begin, and not know what you’re working towards! I usually do a Google search, and go from there! Use terms like these – holiday eye shadow ideas, easy neutral eye looks, subtle blue eye makeup. These will help you get an idea of what is possible, and help you narrow down what you’ll be able to do with the products and time you have allotted. If you decide to use a tutorial, make sure you watch or go over it a couple of times before you decide to start. It’s like reading a recipe all the way through to make sure you have the right supplies and appliances. Makeup is no different. But, like recipes, it’s ok to take a look and make it your own. You will be more comfortable doing it your way.

Prep your skin

START FRESH! Start with a clean face to which you’ve applied your toner, moisturizer, or other creams or serums you may use on a daily basis. (Don’t worry, I want to do a skincare post for you, too).

PRIME If you’re going to be out for a long period of time, or just want to make sure your liner and shadows stay in place you need to prime your eyes. If you have some sort of makeup kit going, you will probably use and have concealer. The easiest way to prime your eyes is to apply a thin, even layer of concealer with your (CLEAN!) fingers and then use a puff, makeup sponge, or fluffy brush to apply a little powder of your choice over the concealer to set it in place and create a smooth base for your eyeshadows/liners. You can also buy an eyeshadow primer if that’s what you’d prefer. Wet n’ Wild (you can buy online or in drugstores) makes a very effective and affordable one at only $4.99.

Eye Shadow

GO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW! Eye shadow, like other makeup, is truly magical. You can transform your eyes with the right technique, but start with what you know. If you only  one color, use it! If you want to try something new, use the I left above to start checking out YouTube, and make sure you have watched your tutorial, or have practiced before you attempt anything. I wouldn’t recommend picking an ambitious look the day of a big event, because it may not come out the way you want it, and you don’t want to be uncomfortable wearing your look.

You don’t need any fancy or special brushes. The sponge-tipped applicators that come with most eye shadows will usually do the job just fine, or simple inexpensive brushes, like those from Wet n’ Wild or Elf will do the trick. You can also always use your fingers to apply eyeshadow. Some find you have more control over shadows that way.

Eye shadow is (usually) powder, unless you’re working with another medium like liquid, cream, or glitter. It’s easy to clean up if you make a mistake, and because of this, I recommend doing your eye makeup before you apply other things like foundation or under-eye concealer. This makes it easier to use a makeup wipe, a q-tip, or brush wet with liquid makeup remover to remove any mistakes. Also, you’ll probably be resting your hand against your face which has the potential to smudge or undo the work you did with your face powders or blushes. Unless you’re confident with this part, doing face makeup and complexion products last is easiest.

Eye Liner

(image source)diff-types-of-liner.jpg

You don’t have to wear eyeliner. You can wear eyeliner alone, or along with eye shadow. If you’re doing liner along with shadow, it’s best you do so after your eye shadow. You don’t want to get your liner right and accidentally cover it up with eye shadow!

POWDER The easiest, least expensive, and most forgiving way to do eye liner is to use a black (or whatever color) eyeshadow. You can smudge it into place with a small brush, and it will be super easy to blend into your other eye shadow if you make a mistake. It’s also less intimidating to work with a substance you’re more familiar with, because other forms can behave with their own rules. If the color isn’t going on as bold as you’d like, you could wet your brush to intensify the color.

PENCILS In my opinion, pencils (traditional pencils or those in mechanical packaging) are the next easiest work with. The least expensive and most basic eyeliners are in pencil form. You can buy decent, effective eyeliner pencils from drugstore brands that are priced as low as $0.99. You can use a pencil with a super sharp point, or more rounded point if you’re a bit intimidated. Some of the cheaper pencils can be a little stiffer, and therefore pull at the skin around your eyes. You can heat up your pencil by warming it between your hands or under your thigh before working with it to make it softer and glide on more easily. If you’re needing a softer liner quick, you can use a flame from a lighter/match to warm the tip of your pencil quickly. Be careful, though. If you use this method you will want to test the temperature of your pencil on the back of your hand before applying on eye to make sure it’s not too hot. This will also give you an idea of how thick your line will be. Sometimes if I heat my pencil too much it melts into a thick clumsy line.

FELT-TIP/LIQUID/GEL Liquid liners require a more steady hand and much more practice. untitled.pngThey’re easier to make mistakes with, and are less forgiving than pencils. At the same time, they will give you the boldest look, and can be very precise. Mistakes can be easily covered with concealer, but using very short strokes will help you keep control of the direction and thickness of your line. With these types of liners, you can always use a piece of tape, or another small and straight edge to help create a straighter line! Just like pencils, these types of liners are available from as low as $2 at the drugstore.

There are also new devices with a special shape that help you get a better grip, and more control of this type of liner. The example to the left is an inexpensive example available (image source). You can purchase this online for about $15.


I know this is a lot of information, but I hope you feel like you can refer back to this for reference when you need some help with your eye makeup.

What do you think of this post? Did I leave something important out? Do you have tips/tricks that you use that might help someone else out? I’d love to make additions to this post with your suggestions. Don’t be shy! Please leave us a comment below because we want to hear from everyone!

I’d like to give a special thank you to my beautiful spoonie friend Sarah from Sarah in Wonderland. She’s a fabulous blogger and amazing person, and I’m so honored to be able to work with her on this post.

With much love



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