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Adapting Your Self Care When You Have a Disability

08.24.2022 — Chloé Valentine Toscano

When you live with a disability, keeping a regular wellness ritual might pose more of a challenge. After losing my left arm, I focused on adapting my everyday activities and tasks to suit my new needs. One of those was my self-care routine. Having a good self-care regimen gives me strength to tackle the rest of my day—and tie my shoes with one hand. The biggest thing I learned in creating my “adaptive self-care routine” was that wellness habits can be easy to adapt because there are no rules. If, like me, you’re put in the position of needing to radically adapt, be easy on yourself because changing what you’ve known your whole life can feel overwhelming. Below, I’m sharing the three general tips that helped me tailor my self-care to my disability. 

1. Figure Out What You Need

If you’re having to deal with a sudden and acquired disability, avoid thinking of it in terms of ‘how to get to where you were before’, but how to get to where you feel satisfied. Before all else, take time to reset and assess your needs, as well as what you’d like to get out of your beauty and self-care. Ask yourself these questions—

What are your limitations and what are your strengths?

This will help you gauge what you’re working with and which abilities you’ll want to rely on moving forward.

What are you able to do? 

It’s important to know your limits so that your self-care isn’t causing you to get burned out, frustrated, or lose your self-confidence.

What do you want to prioritize when it comes to self-care? 

Prioritize adapting the things that make you feel your best! 

2. Set yourself up for success with the right tools.

If you’re working with products that are inaccessible for you, then you’re already off to a false start. It’s important you find products that add up in terms of quality, but also live up to your accessibility standards. I have a few “guidelines” I like to follow when it comes to products:

Look for multi-use products.

I like to maximize the use that I can get out of each product. For example, the Being Frenshe’s Body & Hair Radiance Oil! It turns three steps into one: taking care of your hair, skin, and leaving a very pleasant smell. That means opening and fumbling with less products!

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Being Frenshe Body & Hair Radiance Oil$16.99

Being Frenshe’s products are clean, cruelty-free and vegan. Our Solar Fleur blend is infused with orange flower, and has notes of bergamot, coconut orchids and sandalwood.

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I’m a big fan of mists and sprays because they’re designed for a lack of precision. If you struggle to apply your makeup, you want to avoid touch ups so this will preserve the work you did. Working with a disability means having less expendable energy. This results in compromise. But multi-use products can go a long way in lessening your load and help reduce your need to give things up.

Take a look at what products are designed just for you.

More brands are beginning to design with universal concepts, meaning products are being made with a more diverse user group in mind. Guide Beauty is one of my favorites. I can’t get enough of their Brow Moment, created with a “ring” to help you keep a firm grip on the product with your hand (or feet!) You can use this one to fill, shape, and set.

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Guide Beauty Brow Moment$26

This 3-in-1 brow product fills, shapes and sets and comes with a guide ring grip to ensure a smooth and steady application. It’s long-wear formula is designed so no touch-ups are necessary throughout the day.

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Some brands, like Humanrace, are beginning to include braille on their packaging. Even if accessibility isn’t the norm yet, it’s good to scope out what does exist.

Make your space and products accessible.

There isn’t a ready-made disability-friendly version of everything out there. Try transferring products to containers that are easier for you to open and dispense, use your own tactile markers on products lacking them, or keep things uncapped [when possible] for easy-access. The world we live in doesn’t prioritize accessibility, so chances are you’ll have to make some changes to wherever it is you call your self-care “workspace.” I only have a right arm, so I try to keep products I use most frequently on the right side of my sink.

3. Be Open.

To trial and error.

You will fail. You’ll buy products you can’t open without asking your neighbor for help. And your shower rod will collapse upon using it as something to hang onto while reaching for the tallest shelf (I discourage you from attempting the latter). Figuring out what doesn’t work is as much a part of adapting as figuring out what does.

To shortcuts.

Shortcuts aren’t cop-outs. You’re not here to prove anything. If an electric pencil sharpener helps you sharpen your eyeliners, use it. And if skipping a step in your routine helps you evade frustration, skip it. Nobody cares if you curl your lashes or not.

To get creative.

Re-learning something doesn’t mean it’ll be lesser, it’ll simply be different. 

If something works for you, but seems unconventional, do it! Using the back of a giant spoon to spread lotion on areas of your body you can’t reach? Totally cool. Using your leg instead of a hand to pour shampoo? Yes. There is absolutely nothing weird about using temporary tattoos to decorate your scars or anything else you might come up with as long as it works towards making your self care enjoyable, efficient, and most of all, possible.

Keep working on it until your self-care is fully accessible to you, because everyone is deserving of feeling good!

Chloé Valentine Toscano