How to do make-up when you're autistic.Disclaimer: I'm aware many of us don't have sensory issues that affect make-up wearing and application. Many of us have allergies or stretchy hypermobile skin, but I won't address that as I don't have training. Although I do have a personal interest and have researched everything I'm about to say.
A while ago on Twitter I put to my followers the question of what make-up and hair concerns they have when stepping into a salon.
The hair is something I'm working on with local hairdressers and I'm designing a free online course for hairdressers to improve their autism knowledge (nobody is paying me I'm just doing my bit to make life easier for us autistic folk).
I've compiled a list by cross-referencing personal experience, that of friends and family and those on Twitter who put forward their concerns. I cannot possibly address all the issues nor can I resolve sensory issues through a blog post. But I can point you in the direction of things that might help and that's always a positive in my books!
So let's get to it! Ways to ease issues with make-up associated with being autistic:
1) Try a tinted moisturiser or tinted sun block.
I think the best way of avoiding the heavy, caked-on feeling of foundation is to not wear foundation...
Bear with me!
What I mean is don't go in at a cosmetic level, with your Maybellines and Revlons, but a pharmaceutical angle via your local chemist. This way you lessen the chances there's a lot of bulk, talcs and silicone in your base because what you're applying has other purposes i.e. to moisturise or protect from UV rays. When your base isn't trying to provide a flawless canvass it's less likely to have drying sensations and more likely to look after your skin.
Try fragrance-free brands to ease eye-watering concerns, too.
Examples: Dermalogica sensitive tint, LaRoche Posay BB cream.
If you don't like the feeling of blusher or lipstick, then stains can be a game-changer. They often look like fancy food colouring and kinda feel like it too, but you won't be pouring these into your rainbow cupcakes.
The downside is you've got to work quickly and learn a technique. Best to try at home at night if you're not going anywhere. Some leave a post-syrup sticky feeling but there are good ones out there.
BeneTint by Benefit
There are so many shades there's one to suit most skin tones but IMO the brush isn't best suited to cheeks.
Body Shop's Lip & Cheek Stain has gathered a quiet cult following and has a nicer applicator with an angled felt tip.
3) Tweezerman brow mousse.
Not sticky like most brow gels that set the hair rather rigidly. Powders are very light to wear on the skin but I find having them tinted or a bit of DIY at home means I don't need a brow product most of the time.
4) Change the way you 'do' mascara.
Hate the feeling of crumbly mascara? Why not try a mascara primer? Everyone from Benefit to NYX is doing them and not only do they help provide a denser colour but it helps with the sensation of the actual mascara formula drying on your lashes.
You could also try a nourishing mascara to lessen the feel. They often contain oils to encourage growth and in my experience feel a lot less rigid. Try Physicians' Formula Argan Oil Mascara, for example. You're better off checking smaller, ethical brands for the nourishing properties (not sure why this is).
Same goes for eyebrows: if all else fails? Dye them! That way you won't be as likely to feel the need to put masacara on, or put less on when you do because you already have a base colour.
5) Avoid silicone.
It's in pretty much everything make-up wise (the aliases are in the pic above) because it's so great at allowing smoothness in application of everything from foundation to lipstick. But because it's in everything and we are hypersensitive, it can build up and we become 'aware' of its presence.
Nothing is more unpleasant for me than using a primer, which is full of silicone to make things glide on evenly. The results look better on your skin but the sensation of a warm layer of silicone on my face all day... nah!
6) Use creamy liner instead of dragging pencils.
This goes for eyes and lips. Always warm the pencil in your hands or under your leg, this softens the kohl or wax and means you need to apply much less pressure.
The formula is also important. I've found Avon own brand is the most buttery formula especially for eyes! It's so creamy going on rather than feeling like you're dragging a HB over ya lids.
7) Get your foundation checked.
Ask for weightless formulas but get your shade matched twice a year. No7 gave me a great product after I'd asked for their skin matching service and told them I'm autistic with sensory issues. The girl picked the lightest, most fragrance-free hypoallergenic formula and I could honestly wear it every day!
(Plus, when the colour is right you won't need as much)
But! Get samples of everything. Your idea of sensory heaven may differ or even change as your skin ages. Try different brands and formulas and you'll soon find something that works.
8) Try a weekly mask.
For me and my normal/combination skin, doing a moisture face mask means I don't have to moisturise all week. This lessens the amount of 'stuff' I have to put on my face and helps minimise the feeling of products I'm wearing.
I like TonyMoly, Garnier Moisture Bomb or otherwise just applying my usual moisturiser thickly and relaxing for half an hour. I let it sink in and wipe off excess.
9) Resist lip plumping formulas!
They have tingly and sticky 'sensory hell' ingredients (usually menthol-based) and even though you may like it once or twice, like me you'll probably eventually start avoiding it because you can't be bothered adding more sensory stuff to your face.
10) Keep it clean.
Clean your brushes!
Not only does it feel nice but you can be more accurate and use less product.
Also keep check on the dates (by finding the symbol above on your product) especially on things that go near your eyes. For example, if a creme eyeshadow is old and dry, you'll need to drag it and really scrub it off.
All these little tips make a difference when thinking about applying make-up and I hope even if I've given you just one bit of inspiration, it makes life a little less sensory-heavy for you.