After losing her style, a 55-year-old mother embraces her dramatic makeover

Makeover Author: Canadian Living


After losing her style, a 55-year-old mother embraces her dramatic makeover

Looking to refresh her life, artist, wife and mother of three Roberta Birnbaum embraces a dramatic new look—with a stunning result.

“I’ve lost my style,” says Roberta Birnbaum. “I grew up in the fashion industry and always dressed on the cutting edge, but once I started having children, staying at home and going out less, I didn’t care as much about how I looked.” Though Roberta still works from home, she has become more involved with charity work and attends many luncheons and dinner events. “I would love to look more current and to present a professional fashionable image,” she says.


Hairstylist Paul Pereira selected a beige-blond base to complement Roberta’s skin tone, plus highlights and lowlights to give the hair dimension. For the cut, he was inspired by actor Michelle Williams’ shag hairdo. “Roberta had short layers on top and length through the sides,” says Pereira. “But she should do the opposite for her round face shape: Go tighter on the sides and have more length at the top.” This cut elongates her neck, too. He sprayed a smoothing cream into her hair, blow-dried it with a round brush, then ran a flatiron over her locks from mid-shaft to ends. Pereira finished the look by separating the strands with a small amount of texturizing paste.

When Roberta visited Spa My Blend by Clarins in Toronto, Clarins Division boutique and spa development director Régine Perron noted issues with uneven pigmentation, dryness around Roberta’s nose and fine lines around her eyes. To treat these concerns, Perron recommended exfoliating once a week, followed by a mask for 10 minutes to hydrate and target dark spots and fine lines. Roberta also had milia on her forehead – tiny white bumps that can be caused by too many rich creams. “People tend to use a lot of product, thinking it will have more of an effect, but that’s false,” says Perron. Use only a pea-size amount of eye cream to diminish fine lines, then add a touch of serum and a day cream with SPF 30 to prevent dark spots from sun exposure.

Confident with makeup, Roberta had her daily routine of foundation, eyeshadow, eyebrow pencil, mascara and lip gloss. The problem? She’d been doing the same thing for 20-plus years. “My skin tone has changed, so the colours that once looked good on me no longer work,” she says. Plutino Group makeup artist Sheri Stroh gave her soft, luminous and pretty makeup that didn’t focus on just one of Roberta’s beautiful features: sparkling eyes, luscious lashes, and full lips. Stroh used a pore-refining primer and cream foundation in lieu of powders, which, she says, can age you by settling into fine lines and accentuating them. Next, Stroh applied a natural-looking mauve-and-plum smoky eye, along with a brow thickener to fill sparse areas. Then, she slicked on a petal-pink translucent lip gloss and dusted a berry blush onto the apples of Roberta’s cheeks to warm up her complexion and define her cheekbones.

Quo by Orly Color Amp'd in Venice, $11, Clarins Super Restorative Replenishing Comfort Mask, $68, Osis+ Blow & Go Smooth Express Blow Dry Spray, $21, Benefit The Porefessional Face Primer, $39,  


Roberta was keen on a refresher course in fashion, and Cynthia Florek, style expert for Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Ont., was up for the job. Florek chose modern classic pieces in a warm neutral palette. “A blush colour is very flattering on a lot of skin tones,” she says. The trophy piece in Roberta’s ensemble: a taupe Ultrasuede jacket with a waterfall front; that delicate details adds softness, which ties into the romantic colour scheme. The floral scarf and multitiered blouse echo the same dreamy aesthetic. “Since the look is free-flowing on the top, I wanted something clean and narrow at the bottom – cropped black trouser.” Metallic pumps gave a little edge to the outfit.

“The reaction I received from friends and family caught me off guard. I posted pictures each day of the makeover and received almost as many comments as birthday wishes on my birthday. The experience has far surpassed anything I could have imagined.”

Right: Jacket, $220, blouse, $120, pants, $120, and scarf, Melanie Lyne. Necklace, Cleo. Earrings and shoes, Banana Republic. All clothing and accessories available at

Read more:
Makeover: A new mom refocuses on herself
Makeover: Bringing sexy back
Journalist Wency gets a major makeover

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Canadian Living Magazine.

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After losing her style, a 55-year-old mother embraces her dramatic makeover