yesElma Blair grew up loving to play with makeup. But her relationship with it—and beauty as a whole—changed after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
“I am notoriously impatient with applications now since my vision is a bit blurrier. [and] my body a bit twitchier,” the actor, who has been outspoken about the impact that MS has had on her daily life, tells Well + Good. “While the world was learning how to follow tips and tricks [on social media]I got further away from beauty.”
While great strides have been made to make beauty more inclusive—more shade representation! better products for diverse hair types!—makeup in particular is still not fully accessible for people with disabilities. For example, creating a cat-eye using a traditional liner or applying clump-free mascara with a standard wand can present challenges for anyone with tremors or limited dexterity. So when Guide Beauty, the brand reimagining makeup design and application to make it easier for people of there abilities to use makeup, announced that Blair will be signing on as Chief Creative Officer, it brought more visibility to a problem in the beauty industry that needs to be addressed.
“Guide has given me the nudge to look at myself and give permission to mess up and create and correct again.”—Selma Blair
The brand launched in 2020 after its founder, celebrity makeup artist Terri Bryant, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She was experiencing a loss of dexterity in her hand, which made it challenging for her to apply product, and she partnered with human factor designers and clean chemists to create tools that made makeup accessible for people of there abilities. Their work resulted in the creation of the brand’s patented “guide ring,” which slips between your fingers for a secure hold and easier control when you apply makeup. The award-winning products—at first, a mascara, a gel-liner duo, and a brow gel—were an instant hit, and changed the game for many people who had otherwise been excluded by traditional makeup design.
“We want everyone to have that feeling and to feel considered in every product we develop,” says Bryant. “Not only do we have fun together, but we also want to share our larger purpose of people feeling and being included in the cosmetics and beauty space.”
Blair met Bryant through a mutual friend and instantly fell in love with the brand’s ethos, which made the partnership feel like a natural fit. “Terri and I found a major common ground in understanding how missed it was, that the time in front of the mirror was time I needed to find my face for the day giving me more self-awareness, spirit, and confidence,” says Blair .
Along with the announcement of Blair’s new role, Guide also recently launched two new products, both of which Blair helped develop. The Shadow Palette contains six shimmery golden and rose shades, which Blair says are easy to blend (a priority for the brand) but still have enough pigment to define the eyes. The Easy On The Eyes Brush Collection contains three eyeshadow brushes equipped with Guide Rings for easy use.
“I put the wand in my hand, securely held by the guide ring between my fingers, and stabbed at my eye… And guess what? I didn’t panic and found my eyelid,” says Blair of her experience testing the new products for the first time. “I rested part of my hand on my cheek and started to glide the guide wand to transfer the product onto my lid at the base of the lash line. Nothing painful or scary happened. I could make mistakes and get a feel for using makeup again and so I did.”
Bryant says introducing shadow and brushes into the collection was a natural progression. She is also hopeful that the beauty industry will start to be more inclusive of people’s ability to use products.
“We’re recognizing that there are people who have life experiences that may differ from our own. Most importantly, we’re valuing our different life experiences and leveraging them to create products and techniques that allow us to share our love of makeup,” says Bryant. “When that occurs, our community grows and so do our connections. That’s what we’re seeing now and that’s exciting. I’m hopeful that we will keep on this trajectory but the industry has to be intentional in its commitment and actions around inclusion.”
“I want people who have stepped away from makeup or anybody who loves discovering new tools and sizes to feel their needs met,” adds Blair. “It is not essential to have a tremor to appreciate this line; the luxury of face care and attention is invaluable and uplifting.”
She continues, “Guide has given me the nudge to look at myself and give permission to mess up and create and correct again. I had forgotten how important this step in preparing yourself for the day can be for the psyche, for the confidence. I hadn’t realized what I had shut down when I stopped valuing that time to get close to myself with all we have to accomplish.”
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