Is there magic to having or styling a makeover? I don’t think so. The results might be “magical” but to reach that point there are many layers of creativity: skin tone; hair colour; make-up; clothes; type and shape of hair; face shape; lifestyle.

For thirty years I got to do many makeovers on CityTV. I earned an excellent reputation for accomplishing fantastic results. When it was a solo appearance, the stylist got to choose the “model”. One of my secrets was to find a subject that looked tired and was not a “pretty, young thing”. A pretty girl’s before shot would look too good – not the best contrast on television. I would also see if this lady had warm or cool skin. I would then have a discussion with the make-up artist not to do a “natural” look. It’s so important to understand that the television lights blank out colours, so it’s always been my point to add colour not only to the eyes and lips but also the foundation. Coyly, I have always felt that on television the make-up is most important in a “before & after”. If the women has grey hairs, this is not a problem if she has cool skin, but if her skin is warm, the client looks drained. I used to carry an edge, some copper and golden mousse to counteract.

As far as hair shaping is concerned, the first thing I do is to ask the lady the following questions: What is she afraid of? What does she not like? What is she capable of when she looks after her hair at home? All these questions are far more important than the latest trend. Trend is nice to include in the after look, but far more important is suitability.

Point of interest: Right from the moment I went to hairdressing school in London, UK we were taught that the most ideal face shape was oval. Our job was to create a cut or hairstyle to shape a square or round face into an oval. 25 years later I was working on this first time client from Malaysia. To my eye she was a stunning beauty, flawless skin and hair, full lips, almond eyes and an oval face. I told her she was a perfect beauty. What she said next blew me away: “not in my country, my face is too long, my face is not round enough!.” I was shocked, but that night as I reflected, I realized, for example that in China where there are a billion people, most had round faces. Obviously the majority of the population would look at the round face as ideal.

I want to thank CityLine producer Chrissie Rejman and her team for all the wonderful shows over my 30 years. Chrissie named my associate, make-up artist Jean MacDonald and myself “The King and Queen of Makeovers”. When I participated in the multiple “Mega Makeovers”, which I loved doing because we prepared them “in-salon” and had total control, our own colourist and make-up artist. It was revealed to me that when the CityLine staff were looking at the “before” photos of the volunteers, they would choose those they thought were the most difficult for any stylist to do, as “this is a Robin Barker”. I was flattered but also loved the challenge, as I mentioned earlier, the more contrast between the before and after, the better, both for the client and the look.

As a hairstylist, one of the joys of everyday work is that you cannot get bored that easily. Everybody has a different personality, their tastes are different. Some will love avant garde, or trend, but many are conservative and others favour wash n’ wear.

See also my “10 Points fo a Perfect Haircut” and Makeover Gallery.

1 Before2 Dramatic Smooth Look1
3 Hip Beach Waves24 A sharp sleek updo