Eyeliner application can be tricky, especially if you have a condition that leaves your hands unsteady. Hand mobility can be affected by an injury, a nervous system disorder, or a condition that inhibits hand mobility, making everyday beauty rituals like applying mascara, a difficult task. “It’s impossible to find a one-size-fits-all product, especially those made for people with disabilities,” disability advocate Lainie Ishbia; M.S.W. tells Byrdie. But finding tools with the right accessibility features can make all the difference.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
We love Guide Beauty’s Guide Eyeliner Wand, an adaptive soft precision tip tool that has a built-in finger rest, for steadier eyeliner application. As for brushes, Kohl Kreatives The Flex Collection offers smoother blending, buffing, and more, thanks to bendy brush heads that move with you, rather than against you.
Many traditional makeup tools can be hard to grasp and don’t offer a ton of stability. This is where tools specifically designed for shaky hands and those who experience tremors can make an impact. These use adaptive mechanics, making them more ergonomic. The result: those with tremors or decreased upper extremity mobility can apply their makeup exactly how they want it.
We conducted hours of research on the best makeup tools for shaky hands, tapping experts with tremor-inducing conditions for expert recommendations. We spoke with Selma Blair, actress diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis; Terri Bryant, a professional makeup artist diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease; and Lainie Ishbia M.S.W., a beauty-lover and disability advocate diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). After considering top-rated options and evaluating them on accessibility features designed for those who experience decreased hand mobility, we landed on these picks. This is a growing industry, and that’s a great thing, since these products may not be perfectly adaptive to every condition or neuromuscular ability.
Best Eyeliner Tool
Guide Beauty Guide Eyeliner Duo
Soft, flexible precision tip
Eyeliner pot can be hard to open for people with fine motor conditions and tremors
Celebrity makeup artist Terri Bryant grappled with her changing abilities after she lost dexterity in her hands as a result of her Parkinson’s diagnosis. In her struggle, she sought out to find an easier way to do the smooth eyeliner she’d always been able to do. That’s when Guide Beauty was born. Now, after partnering up with actress Selma Blair—who, as a result of an MS diagnosis, also experienced a change in mobility and vision—the two trailblazers are redefining the beauty industry with award-winning, innovatively designed makeup tools.
The Guide Eyeliner Wand (sold with a longwear eyeliner pot as a kit) is perhaps the most unique product offered by Guide Beauty. The tool, otherwise referred to as “the wand,” features a replaceable soft precision tip that’s not only gentle on eyes, but makes tightlining your eyes (or drawing a wing) an easier task. Better yet, the handle—which has a built-in finger rest—offers more control during application. To use, all you have to do is dip the tip of the wand in the eyeliner pot and glide it across the lash line. You can expect to see more precise lines without tugging, dragging, pulling, or shaking.
Keep in mind that because the eyeliner comes in a small pot, some might struggle to get it open. “I stay away from small pots because I find them more frustrating than helpful,” Ishbia shares. “The idea behind the Guide Beauty tool is great, and I’m a fan of anything that’s helping other people, but for me (and many people with fine motor conditions and tremors), I find the small pot frustrating to twist open.”
Price at time of publish: $50
Accessibility features: Vertical shape, Open viewing ‘window’ design, Built-in finger rest, Curved precision tip | Packaging: None
What Our Experts Say
“Holding something in between my index finger and thumb can be tricky, as it can bring about spasticity. Guide Beauty’s finger rest and ring designs eliminate any attempt at a tight grip, easing my body’s reaction of unsolicited flinging.” — Selma Blair, Actress
Best Winged Eyeliner Tool
Vamp Stamp Vavavoom Winged Eyeliner Stamp
Uniform wing stamp
Ensures symmetry and clean lines
Celebrity makeup artist and co-founder of Beautyblender Veronica Lorenz was diagnosed with a benign spinal cord tumor in 2013, which caused her to lose the feeling and strength of her hands. She used her challenge to create The Vamp Stamp, a winged eyeliner tool that provides sharp, symmetrical wings every single time. Intended to be pressed along the lash line at the outer corner of your eye (where you’d typically apply a wing), the rubber stamp tool creates a flawless-looking wing. The best part: It creates the same shape on the other side, so you never have to worry about asymmetrical eyeliner again. Though the stamp provides a quick cat eye in a flash, you may have to touch it up the first few times since practice makes perfect.
Price at time of publish: $25
Accessibility features: Right and left side wing stamps | Packaging: None
Try to steady your hand by leaning against the counter or table. Ishbia says it helps control the movement of your arm better.
Best Guide Tool
Half Magic Wing Magician
Prevents mascara mistakes
Wings can be flimsy
Whether you’re into dramatic eye looks or prefer a snatched contour, the Wing Magician tool from Euphoria makeup artist Donni Davy’s brand Half Magic Beauty makes it easy to get creative. On the brand’s website, Davy writes that she created the silicone diamond-shaped tool (or should we say, stencil) for those who don’t always nail eyeliner. Whether your “wings don’t match” or you “ have shaky paws,” the Wing Magician is a “handy little friend who will serve as your wing guide.”
It’s ideal for eye makeup—it’s designed to hug the contours of every eye shape and size—but it’s also great for mitigating mascara mistakes for those with unsteady grips. Eyes aside, you can also use the tool on your face to ensure blush and bronzer is applied in the same spot on both cheekbones. Best of all, when you’re done, you can either hand wash the tool, or toss it in the dishwasher. Just be aware that some reviews mention it can get a little flimsy if you don’t hold it down properly, so it may require some fiddling around with.
Price at time of publish: $10
Accessibility features: Soft silicone material, Machine washable, Multi-use makeup guide | Packaging: Paper
Best Makeup Brush Tools
Kohl Kreatives The Flex Collection
Flexible brush heads
Easy to grip
Stand on their own
Based in the UK might encumber shipment to US
Brushes are an essential part of any makeup routine, so it’s important to find a set that works with you. The brushes in the Flex Collection from Kohl Kreatives, a UK-based inclusive beauty brand with the mission of empowering people through makeup, are the original motor disability support makeup brushes. Designed with flexible brush heads, each brush in the collection bends all the way forwards and backwards so that the user can apply makeup in a way that feels most comfortable for them. Plus, the five multipurpose brushes stand up on their own when set on a flat surface (meaning they won’t roll off your counter) and they have easy-to-grip handles so you can feel confident (and in control) while buffing and blending. The only caveat is that since the brand is based overseas, shipping is a bit more expensive.
Price at time of publish: $55
Accessibility features: Rubbery flexible brush heads, Self-standing rounded bottom, Easy grip | Packaging: Box
Best Lash Tools
Kiss Magnetic Eyeliner & Lure Lash Kit
Room for error
Requires multiple coats of liner
Although more of a product than a tool, magnetic eyelashes are a fool-proof way of getting dramatic-looking eyelashes at home without the mess. Easier to apply than glue-on lashes, magnetic lashes actually click right onto your lash line—all you need is a magnetic eyeliner to adhere them to. The lashes stay in place for as long as you want, and you can rip them right off when you’re done—no special clean up required. Since washing it off is pretty painless (as opposed to sticky lash glue), there’s a lot more room for error and if you do make a mistake, you can just wipe it away and start over.
Price at time of publish: $9
Accessibility features: Magnetic force for easy placement | Packaging: Box
Though there’s a long way to go before makeup tools are perfectly adaptive to every condition causing decreased hand mobility, tools with the right accessibility features like Guide Beauty’s Guide Eyeliner Wand, Half Magic’s Wing Magician, and Vamp Stamp’s Vavavoom Winged Eyeliner Stamp make all the difference when it comes to makeup application.
Meet the Expert
Selma Blair is an award-winning actress. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2018 and is the Chief Creative Officer of Guide Beauty. Terri Bryant is a professional makeup artist diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She is the founder of Guide Beauty. Lainie Ishbia, M.S.W. is a social worker, disability blogger, and speaker diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). She runs a blog dedicated to empowering others and has given a TEDxTalk about having an invisible disability.
What to Look for in Makeup Tools for Shaky Hands
When shopping for makeup tools for shaky hands, Ishbia recommends looking for something to hold onto, like a notch or groove to improve stability. “I have trouble gripping things and using my fingers,” she explains. “I’m makeup-obsessed, and fortunately I can put makeup on myself—I just need to be selective with the products I choose.” She says that many of the products at the drugstore or Sephora won’t cut it, unless they have ridges or a notch to hold onto. She loves the Benefit Cosmetics BADgal Bang! Volumizing Mascara’s studded top (even though it wasn’t designed to be adaptive) since the grooves make the wand feel more stable in her hand.
Tools with notches and finger rests, like Guide Beauty’s Guide Eyeliner Tool, also help stabilize shaky hands. “We all rely on grip and stability to enhance makeup application at varying degrees,” Bryant says. “We designed things like facets, finger rests, and longer handles to improve grip and create stability and resting points to help ground and steady the hand prior to and during makeup application.”
Ishbia recommends using extra long brushes, which she finds more stable than shorter ones. “The extra length allows me to wrap my whole hand around the brush (rather than my fingers) and gives me more control,” she adds. Blair agrees, adding that, for her, wider brushes “make a huge difference” in preventing spasms. “Even if you don’t have any kind of disability, you might even find that a wider brush gives you better control,” she says.
According to Bryant, while more surface area can be a tremendous benefit, it all depends on the design. “If something is too big or bulky, it can be impractical or cumbersome to hold,” she says. This is why it’s best if your tool moves and works with you, rather than against you. The brush heads from Kohl are bendy and flexible, making them especially helpful for those who aren’t able to completely drag eyeshadow across their eyelids or blend out foundation. Similarly, Lancôme’s adaptive HAPTA tool—a handheld smart motion makeup applicator set to launch in late 2023—is said to improve range of motion and help those with less mobility achieve more flexible makeup application.
What’s the point of an easier-to-use makeup tool if you can’t even get it out of the packaging? Look for tools and products that come without the annoying plastic seal—this will only add frustration to your experience. “I’ve ruined a million eyeliners struggling to get the plastic seal off. Do yourself a favor and buy one without the plastic, even if that means spending a little more money—it’s worth it,” Ishbia says.
What are hand tremors?
According to the National Institutes of Health, a tremor is an involuntary, rhythmic muscle contraction leading to shaking movements in one or more parts of the body. It commonly affects the hands, but can also happen in the arms, head, torso, and legs. Tremors may be intermittent, meaning they occur at separate times with breaks, or they can be constant. It can occur on its own or happen as a result of another condition like a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
How can you apply makeup if you have tremors and shaky hands?
First and foremost, be patient. Each person has a different range of mobility, so don’t be hard on yourself if you’re having a hard time. After all, practice makes perfect when it comes to makeup. If traditional beauty products don’t cut it, tools like a mascara shield and eyeliner stamps can help achieve your desired look without any skills necessary.
How can you do steady eyeliner with shaky hands?
Why Trust Byrdie
Caitlyn Martyn is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has been a writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty. She spoke to several experts for this story, taking into account their recommendations.