Rewriting Her Own Song: Reader Makeover Liz

A reader named Liz recently contacted me and asked if I could show her how to apply makeup. Liz is in her late forties and going through a serious change in her life. (No, not that change.) She is trying to get her groove back, feel comfortable in her own skin, and start a new chapter in her life. Of course, I am happy to help her! Before we get to the hair and makeup, let me fill you on why Liz needed to start a new chapter. Honestly, she needed to start her own book.

Liz and her partner of more than a decade had just moved from Baltimore to the South when her partner decided she didn't like living south of the Mason Dixon line, and Liz too. Still the new kid in town, Liz tried to make friends and keep up, but her neighbor made it really clear he didn't want her there. Not liking lesbians or dogs, he literally kept setting fires near her house and was shooting at her. The police weren't much help. Liz decided to move in with her sister in North Dakota, to stay safe. What Liz didn't know was that the Red River, which was only feet from her sister's home, was threatening to overflow and flood the town.

Liz and her sister worked with their neighbors at the Civic Center to fill sandbags to try to hold the river back. The river finally receded and shortly after that, so did Liz's new job. She couldn't go back to Nashville, as the police had bungled the case of the nasty neighbor and it wasn't safe for her to live there. There was no reason to stay in North Dakota. So Liz moved to Baltimore, where she had started, to begin again.

With the help of many wonderful friends, Liz found her way back to what she loves: helping dogs and their people. She landed a job working as an animal caretaker with a rescue where disabled dachshunds and other last-chance dogs and cats find a place in the sun. She has returned to training dogs and started doing therapy dog volunteer work again.

Things were looking up, but Liz still didn't feel right. Not comfortable in her own skin, she realized she didn't need to fill some mold that her old partner saw for her. She realized she could become whatever she wanted. She needed to start to look for her authentic self.

So by the time she contacted me, she was ready for a makeover. Liz hadn't done girly things for a very long time. She hadn't been in a proper salon for years, never had a brow wax and hadn't worn a full face of makeup in more than a few decades. Her makeover goal? To find a way to look polished and pretty, without looking like she was trying to be someone she isn't. Her style inspiration? Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen has a great way of looking polished and put together, without looking like she is trying to be too girly or too masculine. It's a fine line and I was determined to help Liz find it.

Stylists at the amazing Padma Salon (3701 Keswick Ave, Baltimore, MD) joined forces with me and together we started Liz's next adventure. First up were brows. Liz doesn't have a huge amount of dark or unruly hair, but if you only do one thing, frame your face with manicured brows.

She willingly laid down and let Candice give her brows some much needed shape. Like a proud mama bird, I watched as Liz never once flinched when hot wax removed delicate brow hair.

Next up was cut and color. Sam, our amazing hairstylist, talked to Liz about what she was looking for and what would make her comfortable. From having long hair as a teen to a buzz cut in the nineties, Liz wasn't too sure what that would be. Sam played with her hair, moving and arranging it to find the best way to frame her face. While we talked about style and color, the one thing we all agreed on was whatever we did, we had to make Liz's incredible blue eyes pop.

A little base color on the hair (and brows) and a few strategically placed highlights later, Sam began to give her hair a shape that showed off her eyes and cheekbones. At one point, Liz actually started to weep, "I didn't know this was possible. Everyone is so nice and it's so beautiful here. I didn't get why people do this before. But I feel like a change is happening. I am starting to care about myself again. It's an amazing feeling."

After we marveled (and cried again) when Sam unveiled Liz's new 'do, we moved back to Candice for a lesson in makeup. We went over basic skin care, discussed the importance of SPF (its importance ranks higher than brow shaping in my book) and moved on to the good stuff. When she was finally settled in the chair, she noticed all of the products lined up on the counter and stared at them like a kid in a candy store. I was personally excited to show Liz how to get a gorgeous face using Laura Geller. All of the products are easy to use and because the powders are swirled and baked, it takes the guess work out of blending and combining the right colors to get a perfect look. Since makeup is not something Liz was accustomed to applying, this line makes it easy, quick and gives great face!

First Candice applied Spackle, a makeup primer by Laura Geller, to fill out any uneven skin surfaces and prep the skin for the foundation. Next up was one of my personal favorite tinted moisturizers, Barely There, also by Laura Geller.

Candice showed Liz how to apply the foundation using a sponge, something Liz had never done before. Liz has beautiful skin to start with, but the tinted moisturizer gave her a dewy glow that made her look polished and her skin perfect.

Candice chose Pink Grapefruit, a multi-colored, Italian baked baked pan blush to lightly define Liz's already amazing cheekbones. She applied it along the bottom side of her cheekbones, forming a Nike swoosh to sculpt and illuminate the cheek.

Next, Candice used Midnight Magic to show off Liz's piercing blue eyes. Midnight Magic combines two of Laura Geller's amazing products. The light pink is an eye shadow and the darker purple is an Eye Rimz shade, a contour shade and a liner all in one. This seemingly simple eyeshadow duo is capable of many looks - be it a simple lined eye, a smoky look for evening or a high gloss look for a special occasion (foiling it looks amazing). Candice then lined the tops and bottoms of Liz's eyes with a beautiful bronze I-Care Waterproof Eyeliner, which is perfect for staying put when she is hard at work.

We finished Liz's new look with a light lip gloss touched with a little bit of bronze sparkle. Liz couldn't believe the transformation and couldn't stop smiling. I always knew the beautiful woman who dedicates her life to animals was in there, Liz just had to see it for herself.

Here is Liz when we arrived at Padma:

(Before. Happy and not understanding what waxing ones brows entails.)

And here is Liz after the transformation:


After the makeover, we wanted to show Liz off, so we headed to another salon, where Loxy was getting his hair cut. Like a good makeover reveal show, we hid around the corner until Loxy came back from getting his hair shampooed. When he saw Liz, his jaw dropped and a huge smile crept across his face. Liz officially got the Loxy Stamp of Approval!

(At mall, after getting the Loxy Stamp of Approval)

The big question, is how did Liz work her new look the next day? I think she did a great job. And we clearly succeeded in making her peepers pop!

I couldn't be happier that Liz loves her new look so much. Yeah, Lizzie!

Ever wonder how someone would interpret your look? Need a change or just some really good highlights? Call Padma and have them work their magic!

(Myself, Liz and the Padma Beauty Team after the transformation.)

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  1. This story makes my heart smile - not only b/c the Padma folks were awesome, but b/c Liz was open to change and feels great now, not to mention looks fantastic! It's inspiring to read about people who should be good to themselves turning a page and ARE being good to themselves. Well done, everyone! Now go hit the clubs, Liz.

  2. What an awesome story. happy tears welled up in my eyes as I read your story. Liz you look fantastic. You definitely look ready to start that new chapter well you actually have already started it by taking this step. You have an amazing smile, Liz. Kudos to all involved.

  3. Very well written. I enjoyed reading this. This makeover helped the outer beauty match the inner one. Liz's story is inspiring and her makeover looks fanatastic. Makeup and color is so much more than just cosmetic; it can really influence how we feel. Best of luck to you Liz on your journey.

  4. Wow. Amazing to read and see pictures a few days after the fact. The comments are just lovely - thank you. This wasn't a cover up as I secretly feared it might end up feeling like. I felt like real artists looked and listened and shared their gifts with me. I can't say enough about the Padma experience - people and place. And Kelly, la maestra! What a joy to be in your hands. I hope you feel like a super hero. You are to me.


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