Lizzie Eastham is passionate about beauty products, despite being born without sight.

“I love makeup — I enjoy the sense of normality and empowerment it gives me,” Ms Eastham said.

“There are stereotypes that [say people who] can’t see, don’t care about the way [they] look or give minimal thought to [it].

“Lack of sight does not mean [I] have a lack of self-respect or pride.”

Ms Eastham lives with a rare condition called Septo-optic dysplasia, which affects early brain and eye development.

“I’ve never seen colour [or] shapes,” she said.

“Sometimes I pick up light but it’s very rare.”

Ms Eastham, a host with Vision Australia Radio’s Studio 1, said she hoped mainstream brands would work harder to embrace diversity and make their products accessible.

“Brands are driven by the market [that is] not blind or vision impaired,” Ms Eastham said.

“Because no one has come forward to challenge [stereotypes about people who are blind], there’s been a delay in mainstream brands coming forward.”

Lack of accessible products leads to exclusion

Ms Eastham said she felt most products within the global, multi-billion-dollar beauty industry excluded people who were blind or vision impaired.

“I can’t use powder like blush, highlighter, bronzer or contour at all,” Ms Eastham said.

“They all look the same [and] you need to have some perception of colour, which I don’t have.”

Lizzie Eastham was born without sight and believes beauty products should be more accessible.(Supplied)

To tackle this, Ms Eastham said she often seeks help from friends and support workers and uses certain types of products such as tinted moisturiser instead of foundation.

“For certain events, I’ve had support workers or friends come and do my makeup,” Ms Eastham said.

“A tinted moisturiser is easy to apply and know how much [I’ve] used based on the feeling of it against my skin.

“It makes me feel glowy and radiant.”

Ms Eastham said she wanted to see clear instructions, and large print or braille on products to make them easier to use.

“If we could use technology to make things more accessible, that would be great,” Ms Eastham said.

“QR codes are the new norm in restaurants. I don’t see why that couldn’t be used for makeup products as well.”

Ms Eastham said educational classes could be another way for brands to improve the usability of their products.

“I would like to see big makeup brands hosting workshops for blind and vision impaired [people],” she said.

“If [people who are blind] had an opportunity to learn how to apply [makeup], [they] would feel more empowered and confident.”

Half a million Australians ‘overlooked’

Rina Gocaj-Bekiri is the co-founder of accessible hair care brand SISTERWOULD.

Ms Gocaj-Bekiri said while it could be costly to be inclusive and make products accessible, she believed it was the right thing for brands to do.

“Everyone is focused on sustainability, but people [with disability] are overlooked and under-served,” she said.

“Wouldn’t [brands] want to tap into every consumer on the market and make the world a better place?”

SISTERWOULD co-founder Rina Gocaj-Bekiri helped to create accessible haircare products.(Supplied.)

Ms Gocaj-Bekiri and her business partner Floriye Elmazi launched their hair care brand in collaboration with Vision Australia in 2022 to alleviate the daily frustrations of their mothers, who live with vision impairments. 

“They struggle to read print on bottles and packaging,” Ms Gocaj-Bekiri said.

Through consultations with Vision Australia, the businesswomen found there was more to making products accessible than the inclusion of braille.

“Only 10 per cent of [people who are] blind can actually read braille,” Ms Gocaj-Bekiri said.

“People use paint and rubber bands to differentiate shampoo and conditioner in the shower.

“Our shampoo texture is completely different from the conditioner so blind and [vision] impaired people can differentiate the products through consistency.”

SISTERWOULD co-founder Floriye Elmazi.(Supplied)

Australian Retailers Association chief executive officer, Paul Zahra, said that while Australian brands were conscious of inclusivity, many are still on a journey to make their products accessible.

“Historically brands have catered to a limited demographic but recently that has shifted,’ Mr Zahra said.

“[The Australian Retailers Association is] seeing brands focus on sustainability but also diversity and inclusion.

“It’s not just a moral choice, it’s also a strategic imperative. If brands want to grow, they need to be inclusive.”

Approximately half a million Australians are blind or vision impaired, according to a survey by Vision 2020 Australia.

A spokesperson for Australian beauty retailer MECCA said more work needed to be done when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the makeup industry in Australia.

“We want beauty to be accessible and inclusive, and for MECCA to be a place where everyone feels welcome and included,” the MECCA spokesperson said.

Mr Zahra said the beauty markets in the United States and Europe are more advanced because of their larger population and greater diversity.

“[Australia is] not leading [the market], but we’re certainly fast followers,” he said.

“There’s no doubt further work is required.”