Makeover Magic for Dieters

Why wait until you reach your goal to start looking great?

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Whether you're just a few pounds away from your goal weight or are still hoping to lose 50, even 100 pounds, there's no reason to wait on looking great.

Mini-makeovers throughout the course of your weight loss program will not only give you an instant ego and energy boost, they may even help you stick with your plan, experts say.

"People who see you every day don't always notice the weight loss, but when you've got a great new hairdo or you update your cosmetics, it can be a real "wow," and suddenly people are saying 'You look great!,'" says Ceslie Armstrong, a fashion and style expert who is the former editor-in-chief of Grace magazine.

These are just the kind of compliments that can keep us going when the dieting gets rough, says Image consultant Sandy Dumont.

"It gives you the incentive to remain really serious about losing weight," says Dumont, author of the book Image Pays.

The best news: Makeover expert Andy Paige says updating your look may be easier than you think. It all starts with your attitude.

"Toss away those preconceived notions of how you viewed yourself before, and begin looking at yourself in a whole new -- and thinner -- light," says Paige, a former plus-size model who is beauty and style director for NBC's makeover show Starting Over.

That means forgetting many of your old "rules" -- like "I can't wear that!"

Makeover Magic Starts at the Top

When it comes to casting a new image, perhaps nothing works as quickly as a new hairdo. But, experts advise, don't just rearrange the style you have -- go for something brand-new!

"Try a really sleek, modern haircut, one that doesn't have a lot of girth, and look for a style that offers contours that can slim the face and work with the overall proportions of your new body -- the way you look now," says Paige.

Taller women should keep their hair at shoulder length or just below, she says, adding layers to create emphasis around the eyes, cheekbones, and jaw.

The one style you probably want to avoid: A chin-length pageboy with ends that turn under.

"This will make a chubby face look chubbier," says Paige. Flipping hair out on the ends, she says, will slim the face and give you a friendlier, more approachable look.

Another trick: Treat yourself to a professional hair coloring -- one that uses tones of your natural shade to create a more slender appearance.

"If the hair from the ears to the nape of the neck is one or two shades darker than the rest of your hair, it can contour the jaw line and slim the neck, making it look longer and leaner," says Paige.

If you can't spring for professional coloring, try an at-home highlighting kit. The goal here is to lighten more strands at the top and fewer at the bottom, for a slimming effect.

As you continue to lose weight, Armstrong says, it's important to keep your hair well-groomed and your cut maintained.

"Don't just do it once and forget it," she says. "Make sure you revisit your salon with every 10 pounds you lose, so your haircut will constantly flatter your face shape and size."

If you're like many women, you've been using the same cosmetic brands for a decade or more, sticking with the products you used during the time you looked your best.

"Never underestimate the impact of a good bra."

But, experts say, this is almost always a huge mistake. Not only does your coloring and complexion change as you age, dieting changes your skin and the shape and contour of your face.

The best place to start updating your cosmetic bag is at the foundation counter, where you should seek a shade that matches your skin tone as closely as possible.

"For some reason, larger women always seem to gravitate towards a foundation that is just too light for their skin, sometimes believing it will make them look more radiant," says Armstrong. It doesn't, she says.

Armstrong cautions that foundation that's too light simply makes your face look larger and blanks out your natural contours.

To make sure you're getting the right shade, experts say, try your foundation on the lower part of your cheek -- not the back of your hand -- then walk into natural light to check whether it's truly a good match.

"Ideally, you should have a hard time figuring out where the makeup is -- that's how close you want to match the color," says Armstrong.

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