Beauty rehab makeovers

Makeovers From the Inside Out
Problematic beauty behavior can run the gamut from arrested development to just plain self-destruction. Consider the case histories of the five women in this story: They're savvy, charismatic, ambitious—but when it came to their looks, they'd fallen into some unfortunate patterns. This called for more than a cosmetic intervention! We challenged these willing women to do some soul-searching, maybe even a little demon-facing, to get to the root of their reckless embrace (or, in one case, complete abandonment) of a particular beauty ritual. The results? Clarity, insight, confidence—and four gorgeous new looks.
Lauren Jones

The Blondaholic
Lauren Jones, Actress

Her Backstory:
Lauren, 26, started using Sun-In in junior high, moved on to salon highlights at 16, and was a full-on platinum blonde by 20. When we met her, she had graduated to lightening her hair herself, mixing peroxide and bleach at home. "I've always been obsessed with blonde hair, the whole Marilyn Monroe look," says Lauren, who spends much of her time in Los Angeles, surrounded by other platinum blondes. "Over the years, my hair's gotten lighter and lighter...and lighter." The prospect of going darker is terrifying. "My biggest fear about making a change is that I'll look plain, that I won't be noticed," she says. "When you're really, really blonde, you get a lot of attention. It's not always the right kind—but it's attention."
Lauren Jones

"I Feel Sexier!"
The Psych Counsel: "There's a cultural concept that more—money or blonde hair or weight loss—is always better, but we can lose perspective on how far we've gone," says psychologist Rita Freedman, PhD, who suggests that Lauren ask herself: "Am I comfortable only around certain people, in certain milieus, and not in other settings? What do I want from this look—to appear sexier, to be accepted by my peers?" "The answers might help her realize that she's conforming to a stereotype that could be limiting her."

The Beauty Counsel: "Overbleached hair is incredibly damaged, and must be eased toward a more natural color," says colorist Rick Wellman. "If you just put a dark dye over the blonde, the result will be moldy green." So he added golden tones before weaving in brunette pieces. If you're coloring at home, choose low-peroxide or no-peroxide formulas, like Clairol Natural Instincts; look for golden and apricot shades and avoid anything that says "ash." With more depth to the color, Lauren's hair instantly looked much thicker; hairstylist Patrick Melville also trimmed away her frazzled ends.

Lauren's Reaction: "I never imagined what an immediate and positive impact I would feel from this change. A few days after I got my new color, I landed my first role in a major feature film—and the actress I beat out was a platinum blonde! I realize what a stereotype I had been playing into before. Now I actually feel sexier—like people are looking at me, not my hair."

Orange and pink sapphire bangles, Daniel K; 888-841-7676. Gold bangles, Mimi So; 212-300-8655. Ring, Sara Weinstock; 412-687-7600.
Leslie Sumpter

Loves Makeup Too Much
Leslie Sumpter, Insurance underwriter

Her Backstory:
Even Leslie's most streamlined makeup routine takes 20 minutes, "but sometimes I spend a full hour on weekends," she says. "And I never leave home without my supplies." She usually gives the most attention to her eyes, often rimming them in heavily pigmented blues and greens. "I love color, and it helps put the focus on my eyes, which I think are my best feature," explains Leslie, 43. But her makeup routine is more than just an aesthetic spotlight. It's a spirit lifter. "In my job, I follow strict guidelines all day, but I can be creative with my makeup in the morning," she says. "Without it, I feel like something's missing. It really does affect my mood."
Leslie Sumpter

"It's Just as Much Fun"
The Psych Counsel: Beauty rituals can be a genuine source of joy, and there's nothing wrong with that. "But sometimes we get stuck in behaviors that no longer serve us," says Freedman. (The vibrant eyeshadow colors that Leslie first discovered in her 20s aren't necessarily the best choice for her in her 40s.) And Freedman points out that anytime you believe you need something—whether eyeliner or a cocktail—to feel better, it's worth looking at why. You may be trying to avoid addressing a deeper anxiety, and should consider what would happen if you scaled back on your crutch—the reality might not be as intimidating as you think.

The Beauty Counsel: "Leslie gets great pleasure from makeup, so I don't want to take that from her," says makeup artist Sandy Linter. "She can still use a variety of products, but in a more subtle way." After brushing a beige shadow over Leslie's lids, Linter blended a charcoal one into the creases of her gorgeous deep-set eyes. With black liner on the upper and lower lashlines and two coats of mascara, Leslie's eyes remained a major focal point. Linter used a light foundation (Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in #16) to even out Leslie's skin tone and dotted a cream blush (Lancôme Color Design Blush in Chic Cassis) on the apples of her cheeks. A sheer brown-berry lip gloss completed the understated, but no less stunning, look.

Leslie's Reaction: "After Sandy finished, my eyes stood out even more than before—with so much less makeup. I realize now how much I was overdoing it. I still love color—I picked up a new sea-foam green shadow the other day—but I'm using it with a much lighter touch. It doesn't look as dramatic—but turns out it's just as much fun."

Dress, Tadashi; $348; for stores. Earrings, Jennifer Miller; $150; 212-734-8199
Jaclyn Sedotto

The Tanning Junkie
Jaclyn Sedotto, Public relations intern

Her Backstory: Several times a week, Jaclyn, 22, drives to a tanning salon, strips down, and lies on a bed lined with 100-watt UV bulbs for 15 minutes. It's a routine she's been loyal to since her senior year in high school. "I hate being pale," she says. "It makes me feel ghostly and sick. I look healthier with a tan." But what about the potential effects on her skin—the age spots, the wrinkles, the cancer? "By the time I have to worry about that, they'll have something to fix it."
Jaclyn Sedotto

"I Never Thought I Could Look So Glowing Without a Tan"
The Pysch Counsel: Jaclyn says she knows she should cut down, but tanning helps her relax, and, really, she doesn't indulge as often as her friends do. Jaclyn's relationship to tanning bears hallmarks of addiction—and it's no surprise. When skin cells are exposed to UV light, one by-product of the chemical reaction is the release of feel-good endorphins. "Frequent tanning induces a change in brain chemistry," says Steven Feldman, MD, professor of dermatology and pathology at Wake Forest University. An alternate mood-lifter, like exercise, could help Jaclyn kick her tanning habit. Sitting in front of a light box (which emits visible light but has UV filters) for 20 minutes a day is another option, says dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler, MD. But Jaclyn must want to quit. "She needs someone—a friend, parent, doctor—to wake her up," says Wechsler. "I tell young patients who tan that they will soon look 15 years older than their peers. By their late 20s, they'll be having their first basal cell carcinomas surgically removed."

The Beauty Counsel: Jaclyn can turn to self-tanners to get the complexion she craves; they're cheaper and easier than ever to use. She can also enhance a sun-kissed look with makeup, applying a tinted moisturizer with golden undertones (like Lancôme Bienfait Multi-Vital Teinté in Sand) and blending bronzer along her cheekbones and the outer edges of her face. Linter also used charcoal eyeliner and a soft lavender shadow to make Jaclyn's beautiful green eyes—and her skin—glow.

Jaclyn's Reaction: "I'm not ready to stop tanning completely, but Dr. Wechsler's advice did make me seriously consider cutting back. And I loved everything that Sandy showed me—I never thought I could look so healthy and glowing without a tan."

Dress, Notte by Marchesa; $1,155; Neiman Marcus. Earrings, Ippolita; $1,295;  
Alexandra Winter

Hair Codependent
Alexandra Winter, Sales associate

Her Backstory: Alexandra, 28, had not so much as snipped a split end since 2006. She became seduced by the versatility of her long hair—pulling it back or letting it air-dry into smooth waves—and she felt that it was her defining feature. "I like to look distinct, and my long hair is definitely dramatic," says Alexandra. "It's comforting, too. I can cover my body with it. In the summer, I literally use it as protection—spreading it over my arms to block my fair skin from the sun."
Alexandra Winter

"I Don't Feel Like I'm Hiding"
The Pysch Counsel: Alexandra has become very attached to her extraordinarily long hair. "From the time we're young girls, long hair is something that garners positive reactions," says Freedman. "That makes it difficult to give up"—even when the hair length has gone from a little exotic to downright eccentric. But when a woman seriously considers why she's reluctant to cut her hair, it can become clear that the devotion has nothing to do with versatility (the oft-cited reason among long-hair lovers) and a lot more to do with acceptance and attention.

The Beauty Counsel: Melville braided Alexandra's hair before cutting it so she could donate the 12 inches to Locks of Love (for more information, go to Then he set to work fine-tuning her new long bob. "An A-length silhouette—a bit longer in the front than the back—will help bring out the natural wave in Alexandra's hair," explains Melville. And while the new cut certainly doesn't provide the same cape effect as her old style, the layers around her face allow her to hide a little if she needs to. The final look is proof that a shorter cut can still be dramatic—and inspire positive attention.

Alexandra's Reaction: "I love my new cut! I was so afraid about losing versatility, but I can still wear my hair curly, and even pull it back on top. And I'm ready to buy some new clothes to go with my new hair. I've had a very relaxed, bohemian style these past few years, but now I'm attracted to styles that are more colorful and a little less modest. I don't feel like hiding as much as I used to."

Dress, Alberto Makali; $630; Ring, Marcia Moran; $138;

Karen Avery in O, the Oprah Magazine

Makeup Challenged
Karen Avery, Management Consultant

Her Backstory: A single mother of 10-month-old twins who often works a 60-hour week, Karen, 41, doesn’t need to think long when asked why she rarely puts on makeup: "No time." And even when she can find a moment, she's too overwhelmed to focus on the task at hand. Having decided to apply some eye makeup at a stoplight during a recent morning commute, "hours later a colleague commented on the 'interesting' look I was trying—I'd only done one eye before the light turned green," she says, "and never finished the job." But there's another reason eyeliner and mascara are no longer part of her life. Karen feels less feminine since her daughters' arrival. "I never expected this," she says. "I thought giving birth was the most feminine thing you can do." But her new identity as a mother has overshadowed not only her old morning makeup routine, but her femininity, too.

Karen Avery in O, the Oprah Magazine

"I Could See People Were Noticing Me!"
The Psych Counsel: When there simply aren't enough hours in the day, it's easy to forget that even the smallest action can help restore a sense of control. "Just focusing on yourself for a couple of minutes reinforces the idea that you're still important, still feminine, still attractive," says Wechsler. And, even if it must be an abridged version, a familiar routine—like Karen's pre-babies makeup regimen—it can be enormously comforting in times of transition.

The Beauty Counsel: "With her beautiful wide set eyes and high cheekbones, it won't take much makeup for Karen to look polished," says Sandy, who formulated a pared-down, four-step plan: 1. sheer foundation, 2. black eyeliner pencil (along the upper lashlines), 3. taupe eye shadow (over the lids), and 4. mascara. (For her after shot, she added a couple of extras: blush on the apples of her cheeks and a rosy lip gloss.) And when Karen only has time to apply one thing? "Eyeliner," says Sandy definitively. "Like many overworked women, Karen usually reaches for concealer first, but focusing on what you perceive to be wrong—like dark circles—often highlights it; play up something else and what you were trying to hide suddenly disappears."

Karen's Reaction: "From the moment I left the shoot I could see that people were noticing me—I'd almost forgotten what that's like. It feels good! Now I'm taking five minutes every morning to apply a light foundation, eyeliner, and mascara. And I've ditched the concealer completely. I'm even bringing a little bag of makeup to work with me so I can touch up in the afternoon." Dress, Jovani; $900; Earrings, Kendra Scott for Jennifer Miller; $95; 212-734-8199.

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