Kenisha Johnson in O, the Oprah Magazine
Photo: Akos

Kenisha's haircut and makeup application take place at the photography studio because her pictures will be shot immediately after her makeover. About her haircut, Edris says, "I want to give Kenisha a style with a stronger shape, so I'm going to cut her hair into a bob with a slightly graduated line from front to back. That will give some lift and volume but will leave her hair long enough for a ponytail." Edris runs her fingers through Kenisha's curls, fluffing them out a bit. "On the other hand, I want this cut to be so easy to take care of that she won't be tempted to pull it back," Edris says.

(Left) Kenisha's Evening Look : Playing up Kenisha's huge brown eyes with three shadows, in black, gray, and a coppery brown, and adding false lashes amps up her everyday look. A sheer, cream blush in a rosy shade and a nude-mauve lip gloss complement (and don't compete with) Kenisha's sexy, smoky eyes. ("When the eyes are so strong, the rest of the face should be minimally made up," says makeup artist Rebecca Restrepo.) A flatiron used at the roots gives Kenisha's curls some extra volume.

Edris cuts Kenisha's hair dry ("Curly hair shrinks up when it's dry, so cutting it wet, you risk going too short"), taking off about three inches all around. She points out that very curly hair like Kenisha's often has different textures all over the head; cutting dry allows Edris to see the differences and cut accordingly. She advises Kenisha to apply just a small amount of a leave-in conditioner to her damp hair, in sections ("If your hair is soaking wet, the product will just slide right off"). Then she shows her how to dry her hair with a diffuser on her blow-dryer, holding it against the hair and keeping it still to cut down on frizz. But Kenisha can also let her hair air-dry. "I want her to be able to just shake her head and go!" says Edris. Kenisha sits very still, her hands folded in her lap, watching while Edris does her thing. When the cut is finished, Kenisha stares at herself in the mirror. There is a moment or two of nervous anticipation about her response. "Oh," she says, finally. "Oh, I love it!"

Rebecca Restrepo takes a step back and looks at Kenisha's bare face. "She's really very beautiful," she says, to no one in particular. "Absolutely flawless complexion." She uses her fingers to apply foundation to Kenisha's whole face, including her eyelids. "Using your fingers warms the foundation, so it melts more easily into the skin," says Rebecca. She applies a copper eyeshadow as a wash on Kenisha's lids from the lashline to the crease, then wets a little corner of the shadow in the pan to apply with a liner brush along Kenisha's upper lashline. Next she coats the tops and undersides of Kenisha's lashes with black mascara. "I want her eyes to look natural but have a lot of definition," says Rebecca. She dabs a cream blush in a rosy mauve on the apples of Kenisha's cheeks for a fresh glow. Then she lines her bottom lip with a brown lip pencil. "In many African-American women, the lower lip is lighter than the upper lip, so a little dark pencil evens out the color." Finally, on both top and bottom lips, she applies a mixture of a plum and pink gloss.

Her makeup complete, Kenisha is fitted with a new pair of chic jeans and a top. She looks at the jeans admiringly. " These aren't mommy jeans," she says. Then she tries on a body-hugging sequined dress and slips into a pair of sleek four-inch heels. She steps up to the set, where the photographer waits to take his first shots. Someone turns up the sound system, and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" blasts through the studio. Kenisha's dream team, beholding her beauty, whistles and claps.

And it is in these next few moments—as she tosses her luxurious, highlighted curls, suggestively raising one perfect eyebrow and then the other—that Kenisha Johnson, mother of two, is transformed from frumpy mom into a stunning, sexy, confident ten.

Make Yourself a Ten! Makeup artist Rebecca Restrepo's winter beauty tips


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