Guide Beauty Is Amplifying the Importance of Ability-Inclusive Makeup

Guide Beauty founder Terri Bryant

Raul Romo

While we've seen fashion and personal care brands introduce adaptive products, many makeup lines have continued to neglect the needs of those with disabilities. However, Terri Bryant is on a mission to change this. A former celebrity makeup artist and beauty educator, Bryant became aware of this inclusivity gap through her struggles with Parkinson's Disease.

In 2020, she launched Guide Beauty. Working alongside chief creative officer Selma Blair (who publicly shared her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 2018), the brand has become a go-to destination for beauty products that are easier to use.

The Inspiration

Guide Beauty chief creative officer Selma Blair

Raul Romo

Bryant's 25-year background in the beauty industry allowed her to work with names like Dior, Josie Maran, and Smashbox. Beyond serving as her livelihood, her work in the industry was a much-needed creative outlet. "From an early age, makeup artistry came easily to me," Bryant recalls. "I could look at someone's face and know exactly how I wanted to accentuate and celebrate their features. With my arm and hand as a natural extension of my mind's eye, I would bring that look to life." 

While makeup has always been her passion, her hardships catalyzed Guide Beauty's inception. In her early 40s, Bryant was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease after experiencing symptoms for years. Though this adjustment came with its challenges, it also allowed her to combine her perspectives as a makeup artist and someone who understands the difficulties that accompany a physical disability.

"It was through this lens that I began to rethink makeup and how we apply it," Bryant says. "Makeup, like any form of artistry, is a skill set with users of varying abilities. There has long been a misconception that you either create products for those that are able-bodied or for some niche market with a specific disability and physical limitation. These are not mutually exclusive."

The Launch

In launching Guide Beauty, Bryant and her team turned to the principles of Universal Design. "[This concept involves] designing products to increase accessibility and usability for the widest user group possible," Bryant says, "[It's] a blend of form and function that improves our world by creating beautiful and accessible products." 

With this approach, the brand has embraced a diverse community of loyal consumers, first-timers in the beauty world, and seasoned makeup artists. Guide Beauty's goal is to make space for a wide range of skillsets and abilities, so everyone can "play in makeup together."

To help design products, Bryant relied upon hundreds of test users of varying skills and abilities. Since the 2020 launch, industry experts and the beauty community as a whole have embraced Guide's products and inclusivity mission. "To receive accolades like Allure's Best of Beauty Breakthrough Award and Elle's Future of Beauty Award have been absolute 'pinch me' moments," Bryant gushes. She sees these as indicators of a perspective shift throughout the beauty industry, signaling a greater awareness and expansion towards inclusivity. 

The Products

Guide Beauty Eyeliner Duo

Raul Romo

All of Guide Beauty's products are vegan certified, cruelty-free, and carefully formulated without toxins and harsh ingredients. But what truly sets them apart is their unique engineering, which gives those with strength or mobility challenges ease of use. "Our goal is to democratize makeup by making even the trickiest looks easy and accessible to everyone," Bryant shares. 

The Guide Eyeliner Wand's vertical design and built-in stability points allow your hands to rest on your face. This way, you can position your hand for maximum precision when applying eyeliner. The Wand is paired with the Guide Line long-wear eyeliner, which has a balmy texture and is uniquely shaped for better grip and easier opening and closing. 

Bryant says the Easy On The Eyes Brush Collection ($50) employs an ergonomic design that "makes it easier to blend and apply and pigments like a pro." It relies on the patented Guide Ring, which slips between your fingers like jewelry for a steady hold and greater control. 

The Shadow Palette ($35)—with tones from fiery copper rose and golden champagne— features an extended "lip" for a struggle-free opening. It's designed to lay flat on your counter, so you can focus on perfecting your look.

To provide further assistance, the brand also offers step-by-step tutorials (created by its community members) for many of the products. 

The Future 

Since launching two years ago, Bryant says letters of gratitude have flooded in from users who regained the ability to apply makeup thanks to Guide Beauty's products. "[Their words] are undoubtedly the fuel that keeps us going," she says.

The Guide Beauty founder is proud of the progress the brand has made and is motivated by how far they can go as a community. "We are grateful for every ally and advocate that has generously used their platform to share our story," she notes. "The more voices that join the Universal Design method, the better the outcomes."

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