Brand New You

Brand New You

So you want to change your look but don’t have the money to hire professionals for the job? No problem. There’s a lot you can do in the comfort of your own home and without a big investment.

A shopping trip to a discount beauty store can yield a basket of “brand-new-me.” Allocate an hour and about $100 for the shopping. Give yourself about three hours for the transformation. Don’t expect results like those on popular TV shows “The Swan” or “Extreme Makeover,” but be relieved that there are no scalpels, or pain, involved in this plan.

Start out with a relaxing soak in the tub. A big jar of lavender bath crystals is a mere $4.99. Lavender scent is a natural tranquilizer, according to aromatherapy experts. Really stressed? Turn off all the lights, light a lavender votive candle ($1.50) and pop an “Ocean Symphony” CD ($5.00) into the boom box. It’s not just a mental makeover; relaxed people look better than stressed people do.

Right before stepping into your tub, slather a cooling cucumber or tingling tangerine mask ($5) on your face. A hair mask ($8), chock-full of moisturizers, will do wonders for stressed tresses. Let the masques (the French, more expensive-sounding name) do their job of tightening your pores, exfoliating blah skin and mending those dreaded split ends while you close your eyes and imagine yourself on the beach in Maui. People who vacation in Maui look better than people who vacation in their bathroom.

Soak for as long as you like but remember that wrinkled fingertips are cuter on five-year-olds than 35-year-olds.

The warm bath water is the perfect prelude to the next few spa services you’ll be giving yourself. A manicure/pedicure set ($12) will whisk away those nasty cuticles, get the potting soil out from under your nails and even smooth away rough spots. This leaves you ready for the next step.

Normally a shy person? Grab a bottle of bright nail polish ($3) and paint the town red. Fingers and toes in “Your Fired” can perk up even an “Apprentice” loser.

After your nails have dried, and a good rinsing reveals your tighter, brighter face and shiny hair, you can move into the big leagues – haircolor. I don’t recommend anything drastic. If you are a true brunette and want to see if blondes really do have more fun you might try a professional first. Trust me, it’s cheaper to go to a colorist with virgin hair than to see one because you were shooting for “Morning Sun” and wound up with “Day-Glo Green.” There are a number of great temporary color products on the market. The newest is a color mousse that offers a great assortment of shades and washes out in eight to ten shampoos ($5.50). You can make even less of a commitment with “brush on” highlights ($7.99). What looks like a giant mascara-tube yields blonde, brown or red color that brushes on and can be washed out a minute later. It’s great for covering those little splotches of grey around the temples too.

Once your newly conditioned and colored hair is dry you can start fooling around with a new style. Usually a curly top? A ceramic flat iron ($25) can make you into a sleek, smooth goddess in 20 minutes. And vice-versa. A set of hot rollers ($20) will give you, and your straight hair, a bounce in minutes.

Make-up can improve your appearance dramatically. And you don’t have to do an Earl Sheib paint job to see a difference. In fact, with facial cosmetics, “less is more” is a good motto. A sheer foundation ($6) evens out skin tone and a little concealer ($4) hides dark circles and mysterious blotches. Throw in some subtle eyeshadow ($3) and a nice lip gloss ($2) and you’re ready to go. If you’re brave, and steady-handed enough, a small dose of liquid eyeliner ($3) will bring attention to your eyes, the windows of the soul, according to Shakespeare. The adventurous woman will try false eyelashes ($3 for the lashes, $6 for the glue). I usually wind up looking as if a caterpillar took a nap on my eye but have heard that a more patient person fares better. If it doesn’t work don’t sweat it, the lashes will peel off easily, as long as you didn’t skimp and use that bottle of Super Glue you had hanging around.
The final, but most important step, to any makeover is to appreciate the new you. Look at yourself in a mirror with the most flattering light available (hint: fluorescent bulbs are cruel), give yourself the biggest smile you have, and say, out loud, “I am spectacular!” After all, self-confidence is the best, and cheapest ($0), beauty treatment known to man.