Products for Beauty Lovers Who Can Only Use One Hand

This story is part of The Beauty of Accessibility, our series on inclusivity and representation for people with disabilities in the beauty industry and beyond.

After I was involved in an accident that paralyzed my left arm a couple of years back, my beauty routine started to feel tedious and frustrating. My everyday struggles regularly included a battle to uncap my mascara or a scuffle to sharpen my eyeliner with one of those tiny makeup sharpeners. (FYI: Those electric pencil sharpeners from elementary school don't do the trick either.) Before my accident, most of the products I was using weren't accessible for people with hand or arm impairments. So I said "nope" to that and set out on a mission to find products that would allow me to single-handedly power through a beauty session like a professional — or at least reduce the number of fights I was having with my makeup.

Due to design, some products are just easier to wrangle than others. But I didn't want to settle at just accessible; after all, you shouldn’t need to skimp on quality to accommodate a disability. Accessibility should be a given, not a bonus. All of the products I've curated here are not only five-finger user-friendly, but all-around winners in terms of quality and efficacy too. Everyone's adaptability journey is different, so you'll need to play around to find which products work best for you. But hopefully, in sharing what's worked for me, I can help you speed up the search process.

The challenge with applying nail polish with one hand is… applying it to your one hand. I usually sit with one leg crossed over the other and use my thighs to hold the brush while moving the nails from my functional hand under it. Unfortunately, this means I also usually end up with more polish on my legs than my nails because polish brush tops are often short or small and not meant to be held with something other than a hand.

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

Until coming across C-Tango, my experience with eye creams had always involved tiny, tightly secured caps on mini, impossible to hold jars. This often ended in frustration and wasted product in the likelihood that I'd drop the finally opened cream on the floor (or the dog — oops). C-Tango comes in a straight- edged container that makes it easier to hold on to. But the best part? The cap- free packaging. You just twist the top with one hand and a hidden pump emerges, allowing you to apply the product directly onto your skin.

The Beachwaver

As someone with naturally curly hair, I never desired to use a curling iron until I had my accident and couldn't use two hands to do it. After that, I was set on adapting everything, so finding an accessible curler became a challenge I wanted to win, and The Beachwaver was my prize. It's designed perfectly for one-hand use because the barrel rotates automatically; you use the built-in clip to secure a strand of hair and press a button while the curler does the rest. There's no manual twisting of your hair around the barrel, and you can adjust the settings to achieve anything from loose waves to tighter coils.

Haus Laboratories Glam Room Palette No. 1 Fame

You'll see Haus Labs on this list several times because I've found it's one of the most arm impairment-friendly brands out there. First: This ultimate palette of gorgeous shades comes in a compact design that's easy to open and hold using one hand. Not only can I get it open without a struggle, but it also stays open. So many beautiful palettes out there are ruined for me by a cardboard case that closes on its own, but this one stays put after I set it on the counter. And it's weighted, so you won't be chasing it around with your brush if you can't use your other hand to hold it down. Plus, the shadow formula is gorgeous.

Foreo Luna Play Plus 2

Facial cleansing brushes can be difficult because applying cleanser to a device you can't stabilize with another hand can prove tricky. The Luna Play Plus 2 is ideal for this because you can set it flat on a counter (or bathtub edge) and pour the cleanser right onto it. It requires minimal involvement with a charger or batteries because it can last for up to 600 uses. The entire brush is made of body-safe silicone, which provides a good grip (even in the shower) and the single button necessary for operating the brush is easy to reach with the same hand because of how small the device is.

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Lele Sadoughi Headbands

Sometimes you need to bring out your "lazy day hairstyle," and for me, that used to be braids or a messy bun. But having use of one arm now makes those options challenging, so these Lele Sadoughi headbands are my messy bun. Although all headbands are technically "one-hand-friendly," I choose these because of their beautiful array of unique designs. Being limited to simple hairstyles post- accident brought me to tears at first, and discovering these headbands made me proud of my new adapted "easy" look. I throw one on, and no matter what my hair is doing, I feel like I tried, yet minimal (read: no) effort was required.

Verb Hydrating Shampoo

Pump-dispensed shampoos can highly improve one-handed accessibility in the shower… but they can also make things worse if you're not careful. If the bottle is too light and the pump is too resistant, you'll wind up chasing the container around your tub. But this 32-ounce bottle of Verb comes with a smooth pump and sturdy container. Those factors allow you to efficiently dispense the product right into your functional hand without tipping the bottle. (The smaller, 12- ounce version is OK too, but it comes with a trickier flip-top cap so you have to squeeze the product out.) Plus, it's color-safe and made for use with an array of hair types!

Slick Solutions Lotion Applicator

This tool changed my lotion-applying game. After my accident, I was constantly asking for help with lotion because I had difficulty reaching some areas of my body. I find it convenient for moisturizing any place on your back that might prove to be out of reach. And it's easy to dispense lotion onto if you hold the handle underneath your armpit or between your knees and apply the cream directly to the paddle on the top.

Conair Gel Grips Hair Brushes

When relying on one arm or hand to do everything, it's essential to take care of your functioning limb as it can quickly tire out. And hairstyling is something that always tires out my "good" arm: Once I've washed, brushed, applied product, and styled, it's been up in the air for a while! Putting your hair up with one hand is difficult enough, but dropping your hairbrush mid-pony can seem disastrous since that means letting go of everything to pick it up. Conair's Gel Grip Brushes have handles that are comfortable and squishy like a medicine ball, forming to your unique hand shape, therefore becoming easier to hold. Plus, they come in all shapes and sizes, including large paddle brushes and ones made specifically for heat styling.

Pixi Detoxifeye Depuffing Eye Patches

I love eye gel patches but loathe the packaging they come in. Usually, it's sheets that are then encased in another plastic casing and lined with more plastic or paper that I need to separate from the patches. Tearing those sheets with one hand is a nightmare and then accessing the patches with one hand is a significant challenge. Pixi offers three types of gel eye patches, all of which come with 30 pairs of patches neatly stacked in a large jar that’s simple to hold between your legs and twist open with one hand. The enclosed spatula makes separating them frustration-free, and no additional paper or plastic is used to separate the gels. Tip: Keeping them in the fridge helps firm up the patches a tiny bit which also makes them easier to manage!

Haus Laboratories Liquid Eye-Lie-Ner

When Lady Gaga says she's all about inclusivity, she means it. This eyeliner is versatile, long-wearing, and draws a hard line at inaccessibility. I dreaded sharpening eyeliner with one hand, so I shifted my attention to liquid liners; it isn't just the fantastic formula that has sold me on Haus Lab's Eye-Lie- Ner, but also its creative cap. All the other liquid liners I tried came with a smooth, often shiny plastic cap that was a nightmare to remove using one hand. But this Eye-Lie-Ner has a thoughtfully designed diamond-shaped, matte-plastic cap that makes it easy to grip and open with two fingers.

Milk Makeup Luminous Blur Stick Primer

Milk Makeup offers an extensive line of disability-friendly sticks that are easy to uncap with one hand and rely on a well-oiled twisting mechanism to dispense the product. I hold the bottom of these products with my middle finger and twist the top with my thumb and index finger. The Luminous Blur Stick triples as a primer, highlighter, and mattifier that you can use on its own or under foundation. If you're looking to make your routine more efficient without skipping products, this stick is a must.

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W3LL People Multi-Use Cream Stick

Products designed for "multi-use" are ideal when working with one hand because it means you’ll be fussing with fewer products. This blush doubles as a lip color and lets me add a pop to my look without needing to pull out a brush or wrestle with a lipstick cap. At just about 2 inches in length, the Nudist Multi- Use Cream Stick is easy to uncap, twist, and apply with one hand. Plus, its shorter length also makes it easier to dispense.

Too Faced Travel Size Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara

You'll notice that I specified "travel size" and "waterproof" for this product. I’ve found any travel-size mascara will be more accessible with one hand than the full size because the mascara wand is shorter. I go for the waterproof version of Better Than Sex because Too Faced has decorated their waterproof mascara with textured "water droplets" that also cleverly double as gripping aids. When your mascara dries a bit and you're struggling to open it, trying to twist off that stubborn cap from a sleek, smooth tube can be a nightmare. Pro tip: After uncapping, hold the mascara base between your thumb and ring finger, and use your middle and index to pull out the wand.

Winky Lux Flower Balm

Lipsticks that come in shorter packaging are easier to successfully uncap with one hand without accidentally grazing off the top. This is why I love this little 2-inch bullet-shaped balm. Since it's a tint that develops based on your skin's pH, it's also more forgiving than a solid color. This might also come as a relief to anyone who's adapting to one-handed life with a previously non- dominant hand.

Ogx Extra Strength Argan Oil of Morocco Hair Mask

Finally, a hair mask that doesn't come in a massive tub or one of those annoying packets that look like GoGo squeeZ and have impossible mini caps. This mask comes in a perfectly sized small container that you can easily open without having to secure it between your feet while desperately twisting with your one hand. The shower already offers many obstacles to accessibility, and this product design can help ease some of those frustrations. Plus, this is hands down the best hair mask I've ever used. I'm a natural dark brunette who keeps her hair dyed the color of cotton candy, but thanks to this mask, my hair is always blissfully soft.

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Facial Mist Toner

I swear by this toner and was overjoyed when I found out Thayers had released it as a facial mist. It's the same formula as the beloved Witch Hazel Facial Toner, but packaged in a convenient spray bottle. If you've tried pouring toner on a cotton pad with one hand, you probably know that most of it ends up everywhere but on the cotton pad. With this, now all you have to do is spritz and go.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Pencil

This is the pencil that convinced me to start paying attention to my brows. Before, I'd decided that I didn't want another product that required sharpening. But this never-fail pencil relies on a twist function, plus the cap is easy to remove with one hand (and somehow stays on in your purse). You won't even need to put down your pencil mid-application to grab a brush to tame your luscious brows because it comes with a precision brush on the other end. I tend to leave the spooley side uncapped to cut down the process even more.

Haus Laboratories Le Monster Matte Lip Crayon

This lipstick is a game-changer because you can apply it on the go and with one hand. The matte plastic case makes it easy to grip, and the thin cap is easier to open than a Sharpie. I’ve broken more lipsticks than I’m willing to admit while attempting to uncap or cap them single-handedly. Thankfully, the tip of Le Monster Matte Lip Crayon is as wide as a Q-Tip and barely sticks out when retracted, so your chances of grazing the top and breaking it while uncapping are slim to none. You’ll be able to uncap, twist, and apply this luscious formula, all with one hand.

Supergoop (Re)setting 100% Mineral Powder Sunscreen SPF 35 PA+++

This setting powder is exemplary when it comes to accessibility. Every setting powder I'd tried before Supergoop came in an inconvenient compact with a sponge or a brush. But this powder comes in a cylinder with an easily removable cap and a hyperconvenient pull-and-reveal brush. You pull down the inner plastic protector and tap the brush directly onto your face to apply. Multiuse products are always a happy find since they reduce the number of packages you have to deal with; this one sets, mattifies, and protects from the sun.

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Tiy Pro Customizable Elastic Hair Tie

Relearning how to tie my hair with one arm was my biggest beauty challenge after my accident. When I finally got it, I realized I could only do it with ties that were already stretched out. But Tiy has created the first customizable hair tie, so no matter what size, length, or tension works best for you, you can have it. The brand’s Pro Tiys come in a portable holder, and each one makes up to six Tiys. You pull out your desired length and squeeze the container to cut the Tiy, and you then follow their innovative tying technique to create the perfect hair tie. I like to have someone help me assemble all of them at once, and then I'm set with an assortment of custom ties that give me the freedom to independently tie my hair.

Sun Bum Protecting Anti-Frizz Oil Mist

Why is it that most hair oils, shine-enhancing serums, and anti-frizz products come in a bottle with a pump that requires you to dispense it into your palms and rub them together to apply? Fortunately, Sun Bum created this lightweight all-in-one anti-frizz, shine-boosting, nourishing oil in a spray. Basically, it checks all the boxes that a serum or ghost oil would, but with the added bonus that you can spritz it right onto your locks and comb it through with your fingers — no need for two hands.

Pacifica Beauty Dreamy Youth Day & Night Face Cream

With quality face creams, I've found jarred and potted options are often challenging to open because lids quickly get greasy, therefore becoming difficult to remove. When they come in a tube, I encounter difficulty squeezing from the top, so a lot of product winds up being wasted. But Pacifica Beauty's Dreamy Youth Day & Night Face Cream comes in a cylindrical pump. The cap pops right off, and you can apply the cream straight to your face. It has the thicker texture of a night cream, but isn't too greasy to wear during the day if you like extra hydration.

Lip Smacker Disney Emoji Lip Balm

I didn't tack this one onto the list just because I never stopped loving and collecting these delicious gems masquerading as a lip balm; I added it because Lip Smacker has lept from the '90s into the future with a lip balm so effortless to open and apply, it'll have you opening and closing it as if it were a fidget toy. The Disney-themed designs aren't just cute, the matte-plastic and oversize shapes make them easy to swivel open with one hand. Plus, the balm and cap stay attached to the base, so you can say goodbye to losing runaway lip balm caps.

Read the rest of The Beauty of Accessibility.

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