Mail from readers willing to let us change their appearance would keep a roomful of elves busy. There's a message here. Women are ready for some changes, but they want help.
So, in the spirit of encouraging positive change, I'd like to offer some general tips.
Most people don't need a complete make-over, much less cosmetic surgery. What they need is an update. Just because you once looked good with Farrah Fawcett wings doesn't mean that hairstyle is still flattering.
Some common mistakes, based on conversations with hairstylists and makeup artists:
* Many women are terrified of cutting their long hair, even if it makes them look older, which it usually does for those older than 30. Consider going at least as short as shoulder-length, which still gives the swingy movement of longer hair, but makes you look far less dated.
* Ask people whose hairstyles you admire where they get their hair cut (even people you don't know; they'll be flattered). Their hair needn't be the same texture as yours; you're looking for good haircuts that seem to suit the people wearing them. That will guide you to good salons.
* When you have a list of salons and/or stylists, call two or three and ask for consultations, a free service many salons offer but rarely advertise. You shouldn't have to commit to a haircut to get a consultation. The stylist whose suggestions you like and who makes you feel most comfortable is the one you should trust with giving you a new style.
It's easier to be experimental with makeup. You can always wash your face and try again.
* If you're still wearing powder blue eyeshadow, stop right now. I don't care what Vogue says about blue eyeshadow making a comeback; that's for trendies and club-hoppers, not for real life. Blue eyeshadow does not complement blue eyes; it competes with them. In fact, powder blue shadow does not complement any eyes. Ditto for bright green and bright purple.
* Neutral shadows are far more versatile. Think brown, taupe, clay and brick. Put a light shade over the entire lid, then smudge a darker shade in the crease. If you want more color, try navy or eggplant.
* Despite what color analysis dictators would have you believe, most people can wear a wide range of colors if they find the right shades. If you've never worn orange or brown or peach because they aren't "your" colors, try a lipstick or blush in a pinky bronze. If you've avoided fire-engine red, look for a red with orange undertones.
* Finally, do not apply blush in a straight slash or a clown circle. It should be blended (and blended, and then blended some more) along the half-moon crescent formed by your cheekbone and your temple.
* January and February are dotted with many store promotions featuring expert make-overs and cosmetic clinics. Check the What's In Store calendar on C5 for special events ahead.