chronic illness · chronic pain · makeup · product reviews

Let’s Talk About Makeup: How to NOT Look Sick with “Spoon Friendly” Makeup Tips

Hey hey!

So if you don’t follow me on instagram you may not know that I’ve recently begun to do a few “Makeup and Skincare FAQs” on Instagram Live. It has been more fun and fulfilling than I ever imagined! Using Instagram “Live” been a really easy way for me to directly answer questions like “what’s the best mascara for sensitive eyes” or “what’s a good moisturizer when you break out easily”. Best of all, its a cool way to “teach” people quick and easy makeup looks and answer any questions WHILE I’m breaking the look down.

Between messages, comments, and Live requests, it has become VERY clear that many of my friends and followers want to be able to look “well” even though they are chronically ill.

Several people have also asked if there are “quick and easy ways to do makeup that won’t take up much energy and time” aka spoons. While every sick person I know wants their illnesses to be validated and taken seriously, we also want the ability to not look sick…even when we are.

Finding ways to do makeup when you feel like crap is a topic is one near and dear to my heart because learning to do makeup when I don’t feel good is something I have had to learn.

In 2009 before I ever became sick, I got certified to volunteer for the Look Good Feel Better program. For those who aren’t familiar, it is a program run by the American Cancer Society where women who have dealt with cancer are given free lessons and free products on how to do their makeup and style their wigs. It was incredible and inspiring and it also taught me a lot about “faking” looking healthy when you are sick. (You can volunteer as long as you are a licensed hairstylist or esthetician, I highly recommend volunteering as they are ALWAYS in need of help)

I then became sick with CRPS and another chronic illness in 2011/2012. After losing the ability to work for several months, I opened my own skincare and makeup business so I could control my schedule. I did my best to work part-time and only wore makeup on days I worked because NO ONE would trust a makeup artist who doesn’t actually have makeup on! Some days I felt awful so I kept my makeup minimal, some days I was able to do more “complex” looks.

photo by Rebekah Gonzalez Photography
photo by snapp shot photography

I realized early on that I had to figure out how to do my makeup even when I really didn’t feel well which sometimes meant getting REALLY creative.

Sometimes I would take makeup with me to work so I could do my makeup once my pain pills kicked in. Sometimes the night before I had to do a big early wedding party, I would do my eye makeup before I went to bed so when I woke up in a lot of pain there would be less makeup for me to struggle through. Sometimes I would feel so cruddy I would slap on some foundation, blush and a bold lipstick then hide my eyes behind my glasses hoping no one noticed I barely had any eye makeup on.

If I wasn’t working (aka laying in bed) I rarely wore makeup.

When I became disabled I lost the ability to work AGAIN so I rarely ever wore makeup, mainly because I didn’t see the point since I was mostly homebound. I mean let’s face it, when you don’t even feel well enough to take a shower, just putting on some blush can feel impossible!

That being said, makeup has been a part of my identity for a REALLY long time. I realized that in order to “survive” the dark depression that comes with becoming really sick and disabled, I needed to find ways to still feel like “me”. Part of being “me” is being creative with my makeup so with some time and some practice, I have found ways to still wear makeup when I am in chronic pain 24/7.

So here’s some tips from me to you about how to wear makeup even when you feel like %$#*!

Choose your battles

You know your body the best so you will know on any given day what you are capable of doing…and what you aren’t. On days where you really want to wear makeup but cannot tolerate exerting a lot of extra energy, think about one facial feature you would like to “show off”.

*If you love your eyes just apply some mascara ! Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Mascara is super budget friendly AND makes lashes look thick, long, and full. I am always amazed at how much difference mascara can make.

 * If you love your lips, wear some lipstick or gloss. I have fallen in love with Colourpop’s Lippie Stix, the formula is great, TONS of colors, and you just cant beat the price (5$!)


*If you aren’t sure what part of your face to highlight, buy a bb/cc cream so you can help even out your skin tone AND protect your skin from sun damage. It Cosmetics You Skin But Better CC Cream is a great choice and is an easy way to give your skin a boost!

Just remember, there’s no rules stating that you have to go out with a full face of makeup!

Some days you just have to accept that you may not look the way you want, just remember that you are probably the ONLY person worrying about it. If you can, celebrate that you DID put on a little makeup. Being sick has taught me to slow down and appreciate what I CAN instead of what I CANNOT. This applies to you too.

Fake what you can’t fix

Being chronically ill and in pain can do QUITE a number on you especially in how you look.

You become pale from being inside all of the time. You have circles under your eyes from lack of sleep and stress. Your skin can look dull and rough from dehydration, meds, and diet.

no makeup with all kinds of feels.

When I am doing quick “spoon-friendly” makeup, I ALWAYS make sure I am wearing blush and/or some highlighter. I am very pale because of being inside almost all the time and I feel like it makes me look even more “sick”. So even if I am doing some quick makeup, I always focus on adding some color to my face with blush and then adding some highlighter which gives the illusion of a “healthy glow”.

*I am currently MADLY in love with Makeup Revolution’s Ultra Blush and Contour Palette in Hot Spice. I love the mixture of three matte blushes (all which are very “natural”), one shimmery blush, and two highlighters. It gives me a very natural “glow” and the price is amazing (10$)

*If you constantly feel like you look tired, you may want to focus on hiding your under eye circles (this came up quite a few times during Instagram Live). Check out Maybelline’s Fit Me concealer, it’s a favorite of mine because it’s a) affordable and b) does a great job because of the light and creamy formula. The concealer you use under your eyes needs to be creamy since”cakey” aka thicker concealers will exacerbate fine lines! So save those thicker concealers for covering acne and pigmentation and only use gel/creamy concealers for under your eyes.  Pro tip: Be sure to check out how to “bake” your under eye concealer, it will help the concealer blend into your skin without the tell-tale”creasing”. Try Makeup Forever’s HD Microfinish Powder to help your concealer blend, it’s my favorite setting powder!

*For people who have lost their eyelashes and/or brows due to chemo, trichotillomania, or alopecia, you may want to focus on brow pomade or a brow pencil to “recreate” your brows. Anastasia Beverly Hills offers MANY products to give you the brows of your dreams, I love their Brow Pomade. If you are unsure how to have natural looking brows when you have little or no eyebrow hair, check out the Beauty Express Brow Kit.


*Using a nude pencil like NYX Cosmetics Wonder Pencil on your waterline is an easy way to make your eyes look bigger and brighter!

A “spoon friendly” look

So this is an easy look that took me 10-15 minutes max!

I wanted to give you guys an idea of the kind of basic look I wear on the days where I am able to do my makeup but don’t feel well enough to spend a ton of time on some complex look. What I wanted to mainly share is that there are LOTS of ways to quickly pull a look together that don’t take time or require tons and tons of products!

Lets start with eyes since you want to ALWAYS do your eye makeup first so if you have any “fallout” (from your eyeshadow) you won’t smudge or ruin your foundation wiping off the shadow.


  1. Primed my eyes using Urban Decay Primer Potion-this will allow your eyeshadow to last all day and makes it more vibrant. Those who have oily lids NEED to prime but even if your lids don’t get oily easily, a primer is the best way to make sure your makeup stays in place!
  2. My brows are awful (don’t judge) so I always start my look by filling them in with my Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz Pencil.
  3. I then used Kat Von D Shade + Light Eye Contour Palette which is a beautiful palette with all matte shadows, perfect for a simple daytime look. Color #1 was patted on my lids with a flat oval  brush, Color #2 was buffed into my crease with a fluffy crease brush, and Color #3 was patted on my brow bone with another flat oval brush. I then went back through with the crease brush and made sure everything was blended.
  4. Next I took my NYX Cosmetics Wonder Pencil and lined my waterline to make me look a little more awake (I use the color “light” since I am super pale).  I also added some shimmery “beige” pigment JUST to the inner corner of my eye (I used MAC Cosmetics pigment in Vanilla)
  5. Using my NYX Cosmetics Slide On Eye Pencil in Jewel, I lightly lined my lower lashes. I like to start heavier at the outer corner of my eye and then slowly taper it stopping where my lashes end (I don’t like bringing my liner all the way to the inside of my eye, it makes my eyes look small). I then buffed the liner with my fluffy crease brush, adding a bit of color #2 from the Kat Von D palette to soften the liner. (We will add mascara a little later FYI)


  1. After finishing my eyes, I applied primer to my face so my foundation would stay in place. I really love Smashbox’s Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer.
  2. With a damp Beauty Blender sponge, I quickly applied my favorite foundation L’Oréal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation all over my face. Those who don’t like foundation can do a tinted moisturizer, BB/CC Cream, or powder.
  3. Since I didn’t sleep much last night, I wanted to make sure I looked “more awake” so I applied Maybelline’s Fit Me concealer under my eyes, make sure to apply it like a upside down triangle. Optional: set your concealer with translucent powder (this is the baking technique I talked about above). I also applied a little concealer to cover a few hormonal breakouts on my chin and left cheek along with some hyper pigmentation on my right cheek.
  4. Apply a few coats mascara AFTER you have dusted off your translucent powder and blended your concealer. I used Dior Show mascara (its super $$ for mascara but my husband got it for my birthday and oooooh it’s just so pretty!)
  5. I then added some blush and highlighter from the Makeup Revolution’s Ultra Blush and Contour Palette in Hot Spice. This makes a HUGE difference in making my skin look healthier and brighter.


  1. I have found that doing a bold and/or bright lip is a GREAT way to pull a simple “spoon friendly” look together. If you are short on time and/or spoons, you can easily rock JUST some bold/bright lipstick, some foundation, a little blush, and some mascara… and TA DA instant cute look! You will for sure get a few compliments on your lip color which never fails to brighten my day. As of late I am almost always rocking lipsticks  in navy blue, black, bright lilac etc but for today’s look I kept it simple with a dark vampy color that makes my eyes look really blue and pairs really well with my skin. This color is Creature by Colourpop.

And there you have it!

As you can see this is by no means a heavy made up look. The lipstick definitely takes it up a notch but you could also easily just wear a gloss or a pink/nude lip. Those who are a bit more experienced may add some winged liner or do darker colors, I just wanted to keep it simple for my readers who are new to makeup and/or those who want a simple look.

I want to end this post by saying that “practice really does make perfect” so if you are newer to makeup or don’t feel confident in your “skills”, you may want to practice this look when you have some down time. People often try to do new looks RIGHT before they are going somewhere and the pressure of “getting it right” can make you feel anxious and not leave you much time in case you make “a mistake”.

Now I know you are going to say “Genevieve when will I be able to practice my makeup when I never feel good?!”

Dude…I got you. You know I understand!

Here’s what I sometimes do: I grab some makeup and a mirror and sit in bed while I practice. My body is supported by my comfy bed, I can stretch my legs which makes my cranky nerves less cranky, and for maybe 10-20 minutes I practice whatever technique I’m trying to “perfect”. You can also do your makeup this way if it’s easier for you.

Happy Makeuping!!!!

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Makeup: How to NOT Look Sick with “Spoon Friendly” Makeup Tips

  1. What you do here is great, Genevieve 🙂 I will truly enjoy following your blog. Myself, I am better off than most maybe, but I know what it is when you wake up in the morning and you know that possibly today and tomorrow is already gone (terrible migraines in my case), and all you can do about it is just bite it and sit with it (no meds for me). I also happen to have skin allergies (on the face) so I always feel like people think I’m ‘unkempt’. And I can’t do anything about it… peeling, flakey and itchy skin does not support ANY kind of powder or concealer, and that’s the worst. Make up removers make it even worse. Still haven’t found a way around 😐 so I just leave the house feeling messy. All I do is eye make up, but I’ve always felt bad about not being able to wear any powder whatsoever. And it seems that most women think not wearing powder is like going out naked, so the worst is that I feel bad in front of ‘normal’ girls who CAN wear it :/ do you know what I mean? I don’t want to feel like I *have to* wear powder or base, but I can’t stop feeling that way. Any ideas?

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