For makeup artist Terri Bryant, doing a smoky eye or cat eye eyeliner isn't just her livelihood — it's a vehicle of self-expression and self-care. So, Bryant knew something was off when she found that it was taking longer for her to do her clients' makeup, along with her own.
When the physical challenges she was experiencing while doing makeup became too much to ignore, Bryant finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, a chronic nervous system disorder that affects an estimated one million people in the U.S. And it's most often characterized by its motor symptoms, including tremors, stiffness and rigidness of muscles, and slowness of movement.
"I had challenges moving my fingers and with grip," Byrant tells InStyle. "As time went on, I had less stability with my hands overall. I ignored it for a really long time, until about five years ago when these challenges started to effect my ability to do my own makeup. I finally went to the doctor to find out what was going on and got my diagnosis."
When Bryant got her diagnosis, a lot of "what if" scenarios went through her head, but the possibility of not being able to do makeup anymore was the scariest outcome. "It’s beyond what I’ve done for my livelihood," she says. For me, makeup is my creative outlet and the way I’ve bonded with people over the years."
So, Bryant started working on prototypes of makeup tools that would be easier to hold steady. "I went home and started to design for myself, thinking I needed to figure out a way to hold onto something that’s meant so much to me," Bryant says. "I was working on a mascara wand, and realized if I had it before, it would have been so much easier to work on women over the years. Then, the light bulb went off."
Bryant's aha moment blossomed into Guide Beauty, a line of accessible makeup products specifically designed for people with shaky hands. The collection launched with the Brow Moment brow gel ($26), Lash Wrap mascara ($26), and Guide Eyeliner Duo ($50). Each of the products have a built-in, pop-out Guide ring that steadies the hand and allows for easy grip. The eyeliner applicator has a curved tip, so it goes on even and smudge-free on the first try.
When developing Guide Beauty's product applicators and packaging, Bryant worked with a team that specializes in human factors and ergonomics. "It was an incredible process because we were breaking down the principles of human-factors engineering and the mechanics of makeup application," says Bryant. "We weren't just focused on how to physically apply makeup, but what it takes to do it with precision."
Bryant also had to re-imagine the actual product formulas.
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"Great makeup application is a mix of tools and formulas together, and the formulas were approached across multiple layers," explains Bryant. "For the Guide Line eyeliner, we needed to press a different type of cream that still had that rich color payoff, but it needed to be pressed a little firmer so when the user glides the Guide Wand along the lash line, it picks up the right amount of liner. That way the user doesn't have to think about that process."
To land on final product designs that would help the widest range of people with physical limitations, the prototypes were tested by users with extreme challenges like arthritis, essential tremors, and multiple sclerosis.
"Grip and stability was what we could help with the most, so when we brought those users in, we would hear the designs made it easier to apply makeup than before," says Bryant. "We knew we were onto something early on, but fine-tuning it took the most time."
And all of those tweaks paid off.
Guide Beauty is available for purchase at guidebeauty.com. Keep scrolling for a closer look at the brand's first three makeup products.
To buy: $26; guidebeauty.com.
Guide Eyeliner Duo
To buy: $50; guidebeauty.com.
To buy: $26; guidebeauty.com.
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