A Professional—But Definitely Not Boring—Makeover For Spring

My friend Emily wanted short hair and a confident, low-maintenance makeup look, and I helped her get it!

Spring is slowly peeking its head around the corner, and with it comes the desire for change.

And of course, for those of us in the beauty world, this means it’s MAKEOVER SEASON. Since I’ve already found my signature look, I’ll be resisting the urge for a baby pink pixie cut for another year. But when one of my closest friends asked me to help her with a beauty overhaul, how could I say no?

Emily and I met in college, when we both lived with awful roommates in the dorms at DePaul. We’ve basically always been as elegant and refined as we are now.

It’s been 10 years, and we’ve gone through some really interesting beauty phases throughout the course of our friendship. Lately, Emily has wanted to upgrade her look. She’s getting her Masters in social work and starting a crazy-prestigious internship at a Chicago-area hospital in the spring, so she wanted a new hairstyle and makeup look that are easy to do and project professional confidence.


“I think I want short hair,” she texted me last week. “Do you think I can do it if I have a round face?”

Yeah you can do it,” I texted back. “It’ll obviously depend on what kind of short cut you get, but I think you’ll look babely.”

Half an hour later, she had made an appointment to chop off her hair. She also agreed to let me give her a makeup makeover afterwards--something that would compliment her new hair and exude professionalism as she moves into the next stage of her career.

Let’s meet Emily as she is right now. Hi, Em!

She looks a little worried right now. It’s understandable, as she is preparing for a big change. Fortunately, she is in the capable stylistic hands of Christin at Art + Science in Lincoln Park. Not only is Christin an absolute wizard with hair, she’s also a really wonderful person and a good friend.

“For a style like this, it’s about proportion,” she told Emily, as they looked at hairspiration photos. “I don’t believe there are face shapes that need to avoid certain lengths.” They talked about Em’s life and job, how much time she had for styling, as well as the thickness and condition of her hair--it’s exceptionally thick and beautifully shiny--before Christin led her off to the sink.

Then it was time to cut. In the beginning, Emily was panicking a little. Christin and I distracted her with elaborate murder mystery jokes, and I tried to recite some poetry at her, but she shut me down. All the laughing had the desired effect of dispersing the tension and making her way less stressed out.

This is why you always bring a friend for moral support during huge hair changes.

As she cut and styled, Christin gave Em a bunch of really excellent advice for managing her shorter haircut. “Thou shalt not use a brush with this!” she intoned while blowdrying. “Volumising mousse straight up, and force it into the side part. Don’t let it do whatever it wants.”

A little bit of Bumble and bumble Thickening Creme Contour at the ends gave the longer parts of her hair shape and control without weighing it down.

You know how some major cuts take time to get used to? Emily said that she was used to this one almost right away. “With my job, you have to cover up tattoos, can’t really have crazy dyed hair, and you have to dress pretty conservatively,” she said. “This hair is professional, but not boring. I love it!”


Emily loves makeup, and her skill with liquid eyeliner is unparalleled. But like a lot of us--myself included--she tends to fall into beauty ruts. I asked her to bring me her makeup bag so that I could give her a new look to go with her new hair, mostly using products that she already owned.

I’m always saying that hair and makeup needs to fit your life, not the other way around. Emily needed a makeup routine that she can do easily, and that looks pulled-together enough for work or school.

Emily’s skin is gorgeous, and I didn’t want to hide it, so I applied her Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream only where she likes a bit of extra coverage--on and around her nose, cheeks, forehead and chin.

I dusted a teeny bit of MAC loose powder overtop to set everything and help control shine. Emily doesn’t usually do powder, but she liked how this looked and felt.

I wanted to give her a little extra colour with some blush, a product she doesn’t usually wear. I used Tarte 12 Hour Amazonian Clay blush in Glisten on the apples of her cheeks (you may remember this blush from this article), which gave her a beautiful peachy-pink flush with a bit of shimmer. Emily said “I never would have picked this colour myself. I would have thought it was too bright and pink for my skin, but this is great. It’s subtle.”

Em’s eyelids tend to get a little oily, so I primed them with Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, then used the medium shade from the Lancome Color Design 5 Shadow and Liner Palette in Taupe Craze. This was a great shade on her skin, and really made her dark eyes look extra-rich and beautiful.

Emily doesn’t usually wear eyeshadow, so I blended it well across her mobile lid and up towards her eyebrows. I didn’t mess with creases or complicated shading.

Emily loves a good cat eye but feels like it isn’t always work-appropriate. So instead, I used a rich brown-black eyeshadow (Embark, MAC) across her top lash line, winging it out a tiny bit at the outer corner.

Instead of liner under her eyes--something Em never wears, and isn’t a fan of--I lightly ran the same eyeshadow beneath her lower lashes with a little brush. This balanced out the top and gave her eyes a bit of definition without looking harsh.

Finally, I gently defined her brows with an angled brush and dark brown matte eyeshadow (Embark again, by MAC), highlighted the inner corners of her eyes with a shimmery champagne shadow (Kitten, Stila) and applied two coats of mascara to her top lashes only.

Finally, the lips. Emily isn’t a huge lip-colour-at-work-and-internship person because she’s busy and doesn’t have a lot of time to spend checking her reflection. This was obviously a job for Revlon Colorburst Balm Stains!

First I tried Honey, which is a really flattering dusty-pink. It looked great on her, but with the minimal eye makeup, I knew we could go a little bolder with the lips.

So of course, I turned to Smitten. I really do believe this colour looks good on everyone, and Emily is no exception. The colour really showed up on her lips, so we blotted a tiny bit just so it wasn’t SO dramatic. The result was a beautiful stain that will last all day AND look really chic and put-together, whether Em is at work or hanging out with yours truly.

“I’m surprised by this colour,” she said afterwards. “I thought it was going to be a brownish purple shade, but it’s not. I can definitely see myself wearing this to work. This is great!”

Another convert to the Cult of Smitten, guys.

Here’s her new look all together!

And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t show you how amazing it looks with cute glasses, too.

I was really happy with how this look turned out. Most importantly, Emily was happy, too: “I don’t like to wear a lot of makeup anymore, but I do want patients to think that I’m competent. This is really simple, but it looks like I’ve made an effort, and that matters. Also, it’s cute with the hair. Being a professional doesn’t mean being boring.”

“You need to be willing to branch out and try different things,” she said, inspecting her blush again (which she liked so much, she went out and bought after the shoot). “Try new things, make mistakes, learn from them.”

“And always listen to Alle,” she finished, which I did not have to prompt her to say at all.

So what do you think, guys? Have you made any big hair or makeup changes lately? Are you thinking about making any? What is your go-to professional look? Do you have any awesome makeover stories to share?