makeup artists
O's makeover team

There always seem to be more important things to think about than the way you look. And then one day you realize it's been a long time since your last haircut. Maybe you've neglected your wardrobe, too, relying on favorites you've had since...wait...have you been wearing that sweater since high school?

"These women were craving a change, and the makeovers brought out their authentic sense of self," says O creative director Adam Glassman, seated above with (from left) stylist JoJo Cohen, manicurist Roseann Singleton, hairstylist Ken Paves, O beauty director Valerie Monroe, photographer Patrik Andersson, makeup artist Rebecca Restrepo, eyebrow specialist Eliza Petrescu, assistant makeup artist Sara Cimino, haircolorist Nicole Currier, and hairstylist Roberta Rogers.

After talking with the five subjects, Paves realized they had one thing in common: "They've put themselves at the bottom of a long to-do list. Careers, family, and friends have all come before them, and that lack of attention ended up looking like a lack of style." But with new looks came new attitudes—and the makeover team immediately saw the effects. "This was one of the most emotional stories I've ever been involved with," says Cohen. "For the first time in my career, I cried on set."

In the end, Glassman says, he hopes the story will have a positive impact on O readers, too. "You know what a makeover really does? It shows that there are big possibilities for all of us. I hope the takeaway will be: 'Maybe I can try something new. It's not that scary.' After all, it's only hair—it grows back. And makeup? If you hate it, just wash it off!"

We've complied the essential beauty tips and tricks from our best makeover yet. Keep reading and you'll discover the hair and makeup moves that brought out the glam in O's real women.

Next: A no-fuss school bus monitor chops it all (well, mostly) off