Selma Blair Is Helping Redefine Makeup Design in Her New Job as Creative Director of Guide Beauty

Unfortunately, makeup is one of many categories that suffers from ableist standards. Even getting proper attention and diagnosis is a well-documented problem for many women with chronic illness. “There was actually something very empowering about finally getting that diagnosis,” says Bryant, who slowly lost her ability to work until she was eventually told it was Parkinson’s. As Blair puts it, “[diagnosis makes you feel] valid instead of being told you’re probably depressed or overstressed or like you’re being gaslighted. Diagnosis gave me permission to be gentler on myself.”

Soon after her diagnosis, Bryant dove into the world of universal design, a theory that factors for those with the greatest needs with the idea that it leads to better design for all. Past examples of universal design that are now commonplace include bendable straws, the remote control, and OXO’s Good Grips line. As she went through more than a hundred prototypes for her products incorporating input from a community of other women with challenges, Bryant “realized that regular makeup tools and products were actually designed for makeup artists to apply to someone else, not for you to apply to yourself,” she says. “I wanted to make artistry easier for anyone.” Many professional artists without challenges tell her Guide Beauty’s designs are a relief to tired hands on set or backstage.

Blair applying eyeshadow with a Guide brush.

Photo: Courtesy of Guide Beauty

Guide’s eyeshadow palette and makeup brush.

Photo: Courtesy of Guide Beauty

Blair, who was introduced to Bryant through a mutual friend, says her partnership with Guide Beauty is about visibility and including everyone who wants to be included, similar to the impact of using her cane on the red carpet at Vanity Fair Oscars Party in 2019. “At awards shows they wheel out a ramp when needed but then dolly it away behind curtains,” says Blair, who went to LaVant Consulting to learn how to speak about her disability publicly. “Imagine if we include a beautiful ramp as the design and not as an afterthought?”

With the announcement of Blair’s position, Guide Beauty is also launching a six-color eyeshadow palette with extra wide edges for easy opening, a collection of three eye shadow brushes, and a fan brush for applying face powder, blush, bronzer, and highlighter in light, instantly blended layers. Each brush features the brand’s signature ring that keeps the handle locked to the hand with almost no grip needed. The testing community that helps Guide Beauty create new products has grown to 200 people.