How to Transform Your Look With a Makeover

Updated 04/12/19
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A few years ago, my boyfriend at the time took one look at the baggy pants I was wearing at brunch and had the audacity to suggest I go on the TV show "What Not to Wear." Around the same time, a friend told me I needed a new hairstyle; he couldn't believe that, as a beauty editor, I only got my hair cut and colored four times a year.

What do you do if your loved ones tell you candidly that your look is no longer working for you? You could get mad, or you could ask yourself if what they see is true. In my case, it was. I'd gotten so used to just being comfortable that I forgot what it felt like to be fierce. I needed a makeover, stat.

I'm normally pretty low maintenance, so I needed to make small changes that elevated my confidence. I made haircuts a regular part of my beauty and self-care regimen. I never, ever leave the house now without at least mascara now. People have noticed the difference. At 37, I feel like I've never looked better in my life.

Giving yourself a makeover is about customizing a new routine and a fresh look that make you feel good. There's no one-size-fits-all solution. But I've got a few tips for inspiration.

How to Change Your Hairstyle

A new hairstyle is a great first step in a makeover. It goes a long way in changing your look and making you feel excited about your transformation. Whether you want a subtle or drastic hair makeover, consider the following:

  • Browse magazines, Pinterest, or Instagram for styles that you love.
  • When you make an appointment with a hairstylist, chat with them briefly about your expectations and what they think could work best for your face shape. 
  • Bring your inspiration photos to your appointment and communicate very clearly with your stylist. Leave no room for vagueness. Never say things like "a couple inches" or "I'm fine with whatever." You will regret it.
  • The only caveat to the above is if you're super comfortable with change and really, truly want a dramatic look. If you're willing to let the stylist work their magic, then I wish you the best of luck.
  • You might want to consider color to really breathe new life into your locks. Again, this is something to chat with your stylist about ahead of time.

A New Skincare Regimen

It's easy to fall out of a skincare routine. Not everyone takes pleasure in slathering on creams and potions day and night. Plus, if you're busy, sometimes skin care is the first thing to go. But I promise you, this will also make you feel like a new person. The practice of taking care of your skin feels so good when you start seeing results. Begin with the basics.


  • Micellar water: Always start with clean skin. A lovely micellar water like Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($12) makes cleansing in the morning quick and easy. Just infuse some into a cotton pad and swipe all over your face.
  • Moisturizer or facial oil: Immediately after cleansing, apply a moisturizer or facial oil to seal in hydration right away. What's the difference between the two? Cream and gel moisturizers are the classic ways to hydrate. In the last several years, facial oils have been gaining popularity since they're often natural, nourishing, and radiance boosting. Try one of Herbivore Botanicals' Mini Facial Oils: Phoenix (for dry skin, $26), Lapis (for oily/blemish-prone skin, $24), or Orchid (for aging skin, $22).


    • Cleanser: Wash away all the day's dirt with a gentle makeup-removing cleanser like Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser ($18).
    • Moisturizer: Choose a rich moisturizer for night so that your face can be rejuvenated as you sleep. Try SkinCeuticals Renew Overnight Dry ($61).
    • Eye cream: This can be a difference maker in keeping you looking and feeling youthful long term. Avalon Intense Defense Eye Cream ($12) is budget-friendly and amazing for anti-aging and diminishing dark circles.

    Makeup Makeover

    New hairstyle: check. New glow: check.

    Makeup can either give you a chance to change things up daily, or you can create a timeless new you. Ask yourself this: Do you want to rock bold makeup trends, or do you just want to update your everyday look? Or would you like to do either on any given day?

    Remember that makeup is about self-expression, creativity, confidence boosting, and enhancing your natural beauty. You don't have to put on an entirely new face, but you can if you want to. Start with what feels good to you.

    In my case, daily mascara made all the difference. But for you, you might be interested in trying something you never do, like using lipliner for a polished pout. It might also be as simple as updating your foundation brand or shade. Get your cute self to the makeup counter and start experimenting. 

    Update Your Wardrobe

    New clothes are fun. Peruse the current runway collections for style inspiration. No need to splurge on designer items unless you want to. Even just picking up a few new on-trend pieces to sprinkle into your existing wardrobe can feel transformative.

    Take a cue from Marie Kondo: If it doesn't spark joy, get rid of it. Don't be afraid to discard or donate clothes that no longer suit you or make you feel like your best self. Out with the old, in with the new you.

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