I am not the ideal makeover candidate.

   While some women wield thermal hair appliances with the grace of a Degas dancer and blend pigments galore effortlessly on their cheekbone palettes, I do not count myself among them.

   I never have.

   My skill with the blow dryer being what it is, my hair’s natural wave won every meeting engagement simply by default, by virtue of the fact that I readily conceded.

   Similarly, I’ve never been very good at spackling my face with the creams and powders necessary to achieve that fresh, flawless look. You know, the one that jumps out at you from the glossy pages of countless fashion magazines.

   My fresh and flawless could be summed up in two words: au naturel.

   Enter Donna DePinto.

   Put together and polished, the owner of D’Bella Salon in Kendall Park saw promise in my remarkably understated presentation and offered to do a complete makeover.

   Being an exceedingly low-maintenance kind of girl, I was apprehensive, to say the least. Ms. DePinto, however, was as enthused and energetic as a fifth-grader on the last day of school, eager to work me over with a new look.

   As I schlepped into the salon, I could feel the flutter of 1,000 butterfly wings buffeting the inside of my stomach, the specter of the unknown looming large in my mind.

   After assessing my “virgin” hair color, Ms. DePinto selected an appropriate lightening solution and began daubing sections of my hair with it, wrapping them in large swaths of aluminum foil as she went.

   My head gradually grew to resemble something out of “Star Wars,” as Ms. DePinto finished the partial highlight she had blazed through my hair and moved me under the Italian ultraviolet dryer to set.

   Catching a glimpse of myself, in all my foil-extensioned glory, I suddenly felt very shiny and it occurred to me that buying stock in Reynolds Wrap might be a smart financial move

   At the most unusual looking chair in the salon, the dryer was imported from Europe and uses UV rays instead of air to process. Instead of the anticipated blast of hot air, all I felt was a radiating wave of heat.

   Once the color had set, it was on to the sink, where Ms. DePinto massaged color-protecting shampoo through my hair, as the scent of rosemary perfumed the air. Recognizing the discomfort that often accompanies scrunching down to meet the salon sink, the sinks at D’Bella adjust to come to the client, for a more neck-friendly washing experience.

   Finishing with a cool water rinse to seal the hair shafts, Ms. DePinto squeezed the excess out into a towel as we prepared to change tacks.

   Moving to the makeup counter, she expertly smudged powders into creams, custom blending a green-tinged base to neutralize the red tones glaring harshly from my complexion. As she blotted the blend over my face, the red faded away, leaving a neutral canvas to work with.

   Sweeping blush over my cheekbones, and waving the mascara wand over my brows, Ms. DePinto offered tips every step of the way, anticipating my inevitable self-doubt at being able to maintain her transformation.

   As she applied the light pink color to my lips with the tiniest of brushes, I mentally dispatched any remaining fears and felt my anxiety ebbing away, as Ms. DePinto confidently continued to draw me out, physically and otherwise.

   One more stroke of mascara to accentuate my lashes and I was finished in makeup.

   Continuing our total hair overhaul, Ms. DePinto combed out my overly long locks, her appraising eye taking in the lines of the former cut, as the leave-in conditioner made quick work of any tangles.

   Standing to my side, scissors in hand, she snipped and shaped my newly colored and cleansed hair with the skill of a seasoned hand.

   Bangs, long since grown out, reappeared, snip by snip, and the layers that had once framed my face became visible again.

   Blowing out the now shoulder-length cut, the wet deep brunette warmed to a multifaceted, lighter blonde as it dried, the ends curling under in their softness.

   A few strategic spritzes of hair spray and a bit of finger combing later, and it was time for the big reveal.

   Sliding my glasses onto the bridge of my nose, I gaped at the stranger standing before me in the mirror.

   And, several hundred smiles later, I haven’t quite stopped.

   D’Bella is located at 3110 Route 27 at Henderson Road, in the Quick Chek plaza in Kendall Park. For more information, go to www.dbellabydonna.com or call 732-297-1116.

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