You want to look and feel your best, but painful, stiff joints often get in the way. “When you have arthritis, holding a makeup brush or razor can be difficult,” says Jeanne Harper, an occupational and certified hand therapist in Portas, California. These tips and devices can make looking good easier and less painful.
BRUSHING AND FLOSSING: An electric toothbrush does some of the work for you, Harper says, and its large handle may be easier to grip than a standard toothbrush. Or you can build up a handle with foam tape. For flossing, opt for a pick or floss holder that’s easier to handle.
SHAVING: “For some, the vibration of an electric razor is uncomfortable,” Harper says; wrap the handle in foam tape as a buffer. If you’re shaving your legs, sit down and prop up your leg or try a long-handled razor; bending over in a slippery shower can set the stage for a fall. Men can try a cuff or strap to reduce gripping pressure, or let a pro do the job at a barber shop.
WASHING HAIR: A long-handled scrubber can help you apply shampoo. And try products that let you go longer between hair-washings, like spray-on dry shampoo or no-rinse shampoo, Harper says. “You lather and dry your hair, so you don’t need water.”
APPLYING MAKEUP: Pick containers that are easy to open. “I use foundation bottles with a pump and sunscreen sticks, because twist-tops are hard for me,” says Suzy Szasz Palmer, who has osteoarthritis and lupus. For powders, choose brushes with long, thick handles, then wrap them for extra comfort. “I loop a rubber band on top for extra grip,” Palmer says. You can save steps by using multi-purpose products, such as a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen or swipe-on blush that doubles as a lip tint.
STYLING HAIR: It’s important to have a hairstyle that you can maintain easily, Palmer says. “I asked my hairdresser for a cut that didn’t require a hairbrush. It only takes five minutes to style.” She uses a lightweight travel hairdryer, which is easier to hold. Jennifer Vido, who has rheumatoid arthritis, says she lets her hair “air-dry until it’s slightly damp before blow-drying it. It cuts down on the time,” she adds. Another tip: Choose a comb or brush with wide bristles; they’re easier to run through hair, which puts less pressure on fingers.
CUTTING NAILS: To ease the strain of gripping and squeezing, try clippers with a suction-cup base, so you just need to press down on the top lever, Harper says. Can’t reach your toenails? Prop up your foot and trim them with long-handled scissors or clippers. For a high-tech option, try the ClipDifferent Pro ($149), an automatic nail clipper that requires zero gripping. Or treat yourself to a professional pedicure; you’ll get a massage along with tidy nails.
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