The writer, before and after. Courtesy Photos
I'm a stay-at-home mother of three in Great Neck, Long Island
-- an affluent town where women can be very focused on their looks. Unlike most of my neighbors, however, appearance has never been one of my top priorities. Raising my kids and managing my household takes up the majority of my time, money and energy. Although I put little effort into my looks, I have always been content with myself the way I am.
But recently, a weekend getaway to Miami Beach
with five of my girlfriends -- five of the most gorgeous, well-dressed, put-together women I knew -- left me feeling insecure and unattractive. One night, as we were all getting ready to go out, one of the girls told me very bluntly that I had way too many gray hairs
and needed to color ASAP. I was mortified!! That same night one of my friends did my makeup and blow-dried my hair straight
. I looked in the mirror and could barely recognize myself. I looked amazing. I decided that I could remain true to myself and still look great! It was time to learn how to fix myself up.
As soon as I got back to New York, I called a local salon and made an appointment to color my hair
for the first time ever. The colorist agreed with my friend that it was time, and she used a semi-permanent dye to match my natural dark-brown hair color
. I loved the finished product because my hair looked shinier, my grays were covered and I was set for at least another two months.
Next I went on a makeup shopping trip with my friend to Sephora
. For my eyes I bought cake eyeliner from M.A.C.
in black, dark purple and dark gray. Cake eyeliner is so easy to use even for a beginner like me. You have to buy a special angled brush
, dip it into the eyeliner and gently apply it to your lash line. It doesn't even show when you mess up and you can easily achieve that smoky eye look
. I also bought liquid eyeliner
but gave up using it after the first try because you need to have a very steady hand and when you mess up you have to start from scratch. I bought a light pink lipstick
from their limited Lady Gaga collection
as well as lip gloss to go over it. I bought tinted moisturizer
(which feels like a light foundation) from Laura Mercier
in Almond with a foundation primer
from the same company to go under it. I love these products because they don't feel heavy, yet give you an even, smooth look. I also got a bronzing gel from Laura Mercier
as well as bronzing powder
to give me a natural sun-kissed look.
At first I aimed to have my hair blown out weekly
at the salon, but this just took too much time and money. I realized that I just have to work with my curly hair rather than fight it
. I went to CVS
and bought a Conair curling iron
to go over my curls and Moroccanoil blowout cream
to tame my curls and control the frizz
. I definitely don't have enough eye-hand coordination to use the curling iron
and gave up before I burnt all my hair off. I highly recommend the Moroccanoil cream for curly hair because it gave my curls definition
without making them too stiff.
As far as fashion and clothes go, I learned a long time ago that I can't keep up with my fashionista friends, yet I can't give up altogether. So I bought a couple of quality, staple pieces that I can repeat often without it being too noticeable. Midweek I am still in sneakers and gym clothes and for the weekends I invested in two pairs of J Brand jeans/pants
and a few nice tops to alternate with. I refused to take my friends advice when it came to buying $900 Louboutin 5-inch heels
-- what's the point of spending so much on something I can't walk in? I bought the more affordable, practical alternative, Stuart Weitzman
Now I think that I probably look like a more polished version of myself. While no one seems to notice any of the specific changes, I've received many compliments on my overall appearance. All these beauty techniques are part of a learning process and I have to do what feels comfortable and works for me. Throughout this whole makeover process I have realized that in order to live in peace and enjoy life I have to love and accept myself for who I am, cherish my own values, accept my strengths as well as my weaknesses. If from there I want to make changes, they have to be for me and only me.
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