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
Ken Paves's Hairstyle Rx: "Rather than dye Cynthia's salt-and-pepper hair black, it's more flattering to her complexion to give her a light brown allover shade with caramel or honey undertones. Her hair was very dehydrated; a cut that skims her shoulders got rid of the dead ends and infused her hair with more bounce. Though she can simply wash and go, if she wants a sleek style, she can use a flatiron from roots to ends."
Rebecca Restrepo's Makeup Rx: "Cynthia doesn't wear a lot of makeup and told me she didn't want me to do much, so I kept her look subtle but elegant. I used a liquid foundation and then a coppery brown eyeshadow from her lashline to the crease of her lids. I traced the inside rims of her eyes with a chocolate brown liner to bring out their color and size, and gave her a couple of coats of black mascara. A burnt-sienna blush on the apples of her cheeks warmed up her complexion, and a tomato red lipstick emphasized her lovely mouth."
Next: Eva gets her brows filled in, and goes softer all over
Ken Paves's Hairstyle Rx: "Eva has a broad, beautiful face with large features. A short haircut would emphasize them, making them look even bigger, so I kept her length but gave her a side bang with soft layers around her face. Her dark hair looked harsh against her pale complexion; a medium-beige blonde base shade with light blonde highlights gives her skin luminosity. A side part with soft waves is sexy but classic."
Rebecca Restrepo's Makeup Rx: "After I applied a liquid foundation all over her face, I played up Eva's eyes with a light beige shadow and tons of black mascara on her top lashes as well as the bottom. I used a faint, soft peach blush because Eva has a lot of rosiness in her complexion, and I didn't want to emphasize that. But I did want to accentuate her gorgeous lips. So I applied a cream lipstick in a peach shade light enough so that her own lip color broke through. Natural, but a little more so."
Next: Angela gets an easy-to-maintain air-dry cut
Ken Paves's Hairstyle Rx: "Angela's hair is a mousy brown, and she had two different haircuts, really: one was waist-length and the other was short and feathered around her face. To give her a more distinctive look without shocking her, I colored her hair a very natural red, with tawny brown highlights. It's a head-turning shade but still subdued. And after we cut off the length, I gave her a short, casual, layered cut that works with her texture so she can let it air-dry. She'll never have to fuss with it, but it'll always look terrific."
Rebecca Restrepo's Makeup Rx: "Angela has stunning bone structure, so after I applied liquid foundation all over her face to even out her skin tone, I applied a luminizer to her cheekbones to bring them out. On her eyes, I used a light auburn brown shimmery shadow from her lashline to the crease of her lids. Then I brushed a hint of dark chocolate shadow on the outside corners of her eyes just above the lashline for a little lift. On her bottom lashline, I used a soft honey beige pencil. And then I gave her several coats of black mascara. A pale peach blush warms up her complexion without overpowering her natural coloring."
Next: An architect gets a sophisticated (but still wash-and-go) cut
Ken Paves's Hairstyle Rx: "Because Frid's natural haircolor washed out her complexion, I gave her a honey brown allover shade with blonde highlights, which complements her skin tone. Her hair was so dry that it had lost a lot of its texture and curl. Cutting it to collarbone length restored some of that. And because her cut works with her texture, she'll be able to wash and go; if she uses a diffuser on a medium setting, she can emphasize the curl."
Rebecca Restrepo's Makeup Rx: "A busy mom like Frid doesn't want to fuss with a lot of makeup, but she can still look great. I applied a liquid foundation all over her face, and then lined Frid's upper eyelids with a black liquid liner. I brushed a light beige shadow on her upper lids and gave her several coats of black mascara. A soft bronzer on the apples of her cheeks and along her hairline gave her a sun-kissed look. And a plum red lipstick brought out her hazel eyes."
Next: Susan's thinning hair gets thickened with highlights
Ken Paves's Hairstyle Rx: "Susan's hair is thin, and thin hair always looks more sparse when it's dark. So her black shoe polish color wasn't doing her any favors. I gave her a much softer, richer, warmer chestnut brown shade with caramel highlights; it makes her hair look fuller and also counteracts the reddish undertones in her complexion. One of the reasons Susan liked to pull back her hair was to show off her beautiful neck, so I gave her a cut that would allow her to continue to do that. A chin-length bob, slightly tapered in the back, has the neat look of a pulled-back style, but with swing and movement; full bangs diminish her high forehead and emphasize her gorgeous eyes."
Rebecca Restrepo's Makeup Rx: "Too much color—turquoise shadow and bright red lipstick—overwhelmed Susan's delicate features. She can wear color, but I wanted to keep it soft, so after a liquid foundation, I lined her lids in a honey brown pencil and applied smoky, pale gray eyeshadow from her lashline to the crease of her lids. Then I gave her several coats of black mascara. For a pop of color on her cheeks, where she had worn a stripe of reddish color, I used a coral cream blush, which gave her a healthy glow. For a warm, rosy lipcolor, I blotted on a true red lipstick to create a stain—nothing too bright. Her new look is still a showstopper, but not overly dramatic."
Have a beauty question? O's beauty director Valerie Monroe answers all—and we mean all—of your questions
See another O makeover: Do you know what your brows say about you?