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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Practically free: style makeover

Looking for a little lift but can’t invest much? For a younger, more sophisticated or stylishly hip image, a new ‘do, pampering or an extreme overhaul, consider these options:

Virtual makeover: No financial investment needed with ivillage’s Makeover Central http://makeovers.ivillage.com/ to guide you through a beauty/fashion overhaul, including tips from style guru Tim Gunn, a virtual tool for “trying” makeup, hairstyles and celeb looks and more. Marie Claire http://www.marieclaire.com/hair/hairstyles/virtual-salon/ lets you upload your photo and perform a virtual makeover, testing new hair styles/colors and makeup shades.

Free makeup re-do: Don't be shy about visiting department stores and beauty shops like Sephora for free consultations and makeup applications. A caveat: makeup artists might work on commission, so if you’re swayed into purchases your “free” makeover can turn costly. Kudos to major department stores (Nordstrom’s, Macy’s) and makeup shops (like Sephora) that will take an already used product back if you’re disappointed in it's performance.

Tress update: A new hairstyle and color can dramatically change your image. Parting with a long time look -- especially “big” or long hair -- can seem traumatic but you’ll soon become accustomed to the new you, so now’s the time to go for it! If you don’t feel your own hairdresser is impartial enough, get recommendations from your best-tressed friends. In any case, use caution: if a hair dresser suggests a high maintenance style or a colorist promotes cost/time intensive highlights you can’t possibly keep up, try to compromise.

The whole shebang: Book a few beauty services or a head to toe makeover at a salon or spa that offers “day of beauty" specials. Follow word of mouth raves or check out affordable national beauty salons and day spa chains such as Regis (www.regissalons.com), Aveda (www.aveda.com) and JC Penney (www.jcpenney.net/stroes/salon) that continuously train hairdressers, cosmetologists and estheticians so they’re always up to date on the latest looks and techniques.

Frump repair: If your fashion purchases tend to be mistakes, a personal shopper can help you stylize a winning wardrobe (and possibly save you money in the long run, with wearable styles/colors that mix 'n match for fashion mileage). Some department stores (including Macy's and Nordstrom) offer free personal shopping services, by appointment. A paid personal shopper can lead you to a more diverse range of stores but be clear on your budget and your goals.

An image overhaul: Looking to really “repackage” yourself? An image consultant can help improve everything about you, even your verbal and nonverbal communications. For fee guidelines and a listing of reputable image consultants in your area, log onto www.aici.org

Extreme makeover: For a little nip and tuck there’s no shortage of places -- from medi- spas to plastic surgery centers -- for mild procedures or a total surgical overhaul. You might start by seeing if simple non invasive procedures … like tooth whitening or injectable wrinkle fillers ... boost your self image (with minimal investment and no down time). For info on procedures, fees and board certified plastic surgeons visit www.plasticsurgery.org/patients_consumers. For more extreme makeover options, check out websites like www.ienhance.com, featuring makeover team members from the Extreme Makeover reality TV show.

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