the mother-daughter makeover

Story by Jane Kellogg / Photos by Rudy Arocha / Photo assistance by Javier Trevino

The bond between mother and daughter is often tested. But for those women among us lucky enough to know a strong relationship, life still gets in the way. When Austin Woman asked readers to nominate their moms and daughters for a beauty and fashion makeover, stories of both heartbreak and courage rolled in. While their daily lives and challenges varied, these women all shared one thing: They all needed a break from their busy lives, and a day of pampering was the perfect outlet.

We teamed up with the best pros on the Austin beauty scene— Mirror Mirror salon, Rae Cosmetics and Kendra Scott—to breathe new life into the beauty regimens of these eight deserving and inspiring Austinites. After all the haircuts and high heels, makeup and manicures, this day of beauty also served as a reminder for these mothers and daughters: Be thankful for the positive moments you have with each other, as every chance you get together is a chance to connect with those who know your beauty can be more than skin deep.

Christina Collazo, 33 + Nellie Benavidez, 52

Christina Collazo came across Austin Woman’s makeover contest while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, attempting to pass the time as her mother completed yet another test to see if she was cancer-free. Her mother, Nellie Benavidez, 52, was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer in September, and her carefree life has since been turned upside down with three surgeries, countless scans and dreaded chemotherapy.

“Everything happened quickly,” Collazo says. “But she has been absolutely amazing and strong through it all.”

While Benavidez was ready to lose all her hair to reclaim her health, she wasn’t quite prepared for the emotional toll of it all. Thankfully, she had an amazing support system in her daughter.

“She’s independent, but she let me take care of her through this,” says Collazo, who is also the founder and executive director of Si Se Puede Learning Center in East Austin. “For that I am grateful.”

Benavidez lost all of her eyelashes, and her eyebrows are only now starting to grow back in.

“I do my makeup every day, but I never had to do my eyebrows,” she says. “I had to change my routine—you just have to make yourself look better, in order to help you feel better.”

“[Losing your hair] is physical evidence that you’re sick,” her daughter chimes in. “But doing yourself up, doing your makeup—it’s one of the few things you still have control over.”

Since the chemotherapy treatments, Benavidez has been wearing a brown headscarf (“always wrapped perfectly around her head—still beautiful,” Collazo says). Parker Serenity Wig Spa, a north Austin boutique, donated a hairpiece toward Benavidez’s new look.

“That has been my favorite part of this makeover,” Collazo says. “She looks like herself again.”

Meanwhile, Mirror Mirror’s Johna Simon reshaped Collazo’s long, one-length hair. “It was beautiful, yet lacking shape,” Simon explains. “To add more bounce and movement, I trimmed the ends and added gorgeous layers to create a fresh, fun look.”

“I was watching her as she got her hair done, and—” Benavidez tries to put it in words, but her emotions get the better of her. After collecting herself, she says, “To see my daughter be taken care of after taking care of me—it’s a good feeling.”

On Christina: Sam necklace in pink onyx, $195, and Celeste bracelet in pink onyx, $120, available at Kendra Scott, 1400 S. Congress Ave., Suite 170, 512.354.4737, kendrascott.com. Michael Kors heels, $99, and INC white dress, $99.50, available at Macy’s, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., 512.329.2300, macys.com

On Nellie: Skylar earrings, $65, available at Kendra Scott, 1400 S. Congress Ave., Suite 170, 512.354.4737, kendrascott.com. Michael Kors flats, $110, top, $110, and jeans, $69.50, available at Macy’s, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., 512.329.2300, macys.com

“When selecting a wig for Nellie, we wanted to add a little more length to enhance her youthful features. We trimmed some bangs to give her a confident, trendy and slightly sassy look.” Candy Garza, Parker Serenity Wig Spa

Paige Hanson, 16 + Rachel Hanson, 36

At the studio, Paige Hanson is quiet, polite and reserved. But when asked what she’s most thankful for about her mom, Rachel, the 16-year-old speaks without hesitation:

“I don’t think I would be the way I am today without her advice—she’s an inspiration to me. We’ve had a lot of stuff go on in our lives, and the way she stays strong through it…she doesn’t let anything bring her down. She’s one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.”

Rachel was quick to point out in her makeover contest entry letter that her strength comes from her oldest daughter. “I’m a single mom of six,” she says. “While I work, she cares for her brothers and sister. She cleans house, cooks dinner, makes sure their homework gets finished, that they get their baths and that everyone goes to bed on time. No teenager should have quite this level of responsibility, but she does it all—and most importantly she maintains her grades as well.”

Despite being stretched thin, Rachel took in another family earlier this year after learning that the family had suddenly become homeless. Amazingly, she runs this full house on her income alone.

“I was working for the Better Business Bureau, but I’m no longer with them,” she tells us with a sigh. “Right now I work part-time at Best Buy, and I bartend during football season at the stadium and for events at Circuit of the Americas. I’m looking for that career again where I don’t have to juggle four or five jobs, but I’m grateful for anything. Everything helps me support my family.”

While she’s searching for that dream job, Rachel now has the dream hair to match. Mirror Mirror stylist Whitney Paul richened the base color and did a Kerastase treatment (“to add strength and shine while focusing on the integrity of the hair,” Paul explains). As Paige navigates her way into womanhood, her mom hopes she’ll be able to cherish those last few moments of youth.

“At some point I have to let her go be a kid and have fun. She’s such a special girl.”

Rae Cosmetics’ Aubree Storlie gave Paige a fresh, simple beauty regimen, but played it up with eyelash extensions. Paul then enhanced her natural beauty with the balyage technique to brighten and add sunkissed highlights. “I finished off her look by giving her hair a textured and sassy bounce with a voluminous blow out and curling iron.” Ah, to be young again.

On Paige: Dayla earrings, $65, and Elysa bangles, $80, available at Kendra Scott, 1400 S. Congress Ave., Suite 170, 512.354.4737, kendrascott.com. Rachel Rachel Roy dress, $109, available at Macy’s, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., 512.329.2300, macys.com

On Rachel: Alison earrings, $65, and Khammi bracelet, $135, available at Kendra Scott, 1400 S. Congress Ave., Suite 170, 512.354.4737, kendrascott.com. Style & Co pumps, $45, and Michael Kors shirt, $79.50, and pants, $69.50, available at Macy’s, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., 512.329.2300, macys.com

“Paige has naturally beautiful skin, so she didn’t need a ton of makeup. We kept it simple and ageappropriate by using colors that were more subtle and natural.” Lauren Lumsden, Rae Cosmetics

Donna Powell, 53 + Brandie Brown, 32

Last summer was an endurance test for Donna Powell and her family. First, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The next month her husband was laid off, which eventually forced them to move out of their apartment. Then, tragically, her son was critically injured in a car accident in June.

“When your son—my brother—is living in a wheelchair and unable to even brush his own teeth,” Powell’s daughter Brandie Brown explained to us in her makeover contest entry letter, “getting your hair done, buying new makeup or even going shopping seems so unnecessary.”

As the family supports one another as they find their way back to normalcy, Brown, a physical therapist and mother of two, wanted her mom to get Austin Woman’s makeover for the extra boost of self-confidence she needs. Powell has been growing out her hair, so Martha Lynn Kale and her team at Mirror Mirror focused on giving her tresses a rich brown color.

“That was the best change for me—my hair was gray and black and remnants of an old color a long, long time ago,” Powell says.

Kale’s assistant, Mollie Morgan, notes that it’s important to go to the salon in the interim.

“Keep your hair trimmed and shaped while growing it out so it can look stylish through the process,” she says.

While Brown may have nominated her mom for our makeover, it turns out she may have needed the help more, admitting that she wears maternity clothes—even though her daughters are three and four years old.

“For Easter, I put on a dress I wore when I was pregnant,” Brown says. “I looked back at past pictures and saw that I’ve worn it the past six Easters.”

Brown was up for a change, and she made sure our stylists knew it.

“We took off about four inches and did a long bob that is polished without being fussy,” Kale says. “It is slightly longer in the front, which keeps it current.”

“I think that was the first time my hair had been brushed in three months!” Brown admits. “I would just wash it and put it in a ponytail. Today was a reminder that you have to take care of yourself.”

On Donna: Tavi earrings in white, $55, and Jana bracelet with white mother of pearl, $80, available at Kendra Scott, 1400 S. Congress Ave., Suite 170, 512.354.4737, kendrascott.com. Michael Kors shirt, $89.50, and Calvin Klein pumps, $99, and pants, $89, available at Macy’s, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., 512.329.2300, macys.com

On Brandie: Tanay necklace, $195, available at Kendra Scott, 1400 S. Congress Ave., Suite 170, 512.354.4737, kendrascott.com. Michael Kors heels, $99, and dress, $120, available at Michael Kors, Barton Creek Square, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., Suite E08, 512.329.5444, michaelkors.com

“With this makeover—and all of the makeovers— we want to make sure that we are creating a look that they can style and that will work for them.” Martha Lynn Kale, Mirror Mirror

Carla Lañas, 37 + Magali Lañas, 71

Magali Lañas is a woman like most mothers: She put herself on the backburner while raising her children. But unlike most mothers, she had six to raise. In 1989, she brought her large family to Austin from Lima, Perú. She managed to keep her home organized among the chaos of raising half a dozen smart and active young adults, who clearly take after—and look up to—this adventurous woman.

To daughter Carla, “she is a source of constant strength, wisdom and happiness” in the lives of everyone she touches, but especially her children. At 71 years young, she remained as active, bright and flirtatious as ever until a serious health issue slowed her down. Doctors discovered a problem in her heart, and she underwent double bypass surgery in November. With a new lease on life, she’s counting her blessings as she spends this year helping her daughter Carla plan her wedding.

“For my mother, 2013 is a year of recovery and a celebration of strength,” Carla says. “For me, it’s a year to plan my wedding, get in shape and celebrate being a woman.”

Rae Cosmetics’ Lauren Lumsden paid close attention to Magali’s glowing skin, marked only with the lines that serve as evidence of a constant smile.

“She transformed my face,” Magali says. “The concealer she applied—she used the right color to hide the differentiations in my skin. It covered every wrinkle.”

Mirror Mirror’s Alli Claunch styled Magali’s short hair off her face for a fresh look, and added highlights and lowlights to give her the vibrancy needed to match her colorful personality. Daughter Carla, on the other hand, is growing out her long curly locks for her wedding day.

“She’s a natural beauty, so we lightened her natural hue a little and gave it a richness and shine,” Claunch says. “She taught me how to take care of my frizz, with the humidity here,” Carla says. “I think everybody should get a makeover! It’s a refresher course.”

On Magali: Ashlyn white onyx necklace, $105, and Tavi earrings in white, $55, available at Kendra Scott, 1400 S. Congress Ave., Suite 170, 512.354.4737, kendrascott.com. Nine West flats, $59, and Calvin Klein top, $69.50, available at Macy’s, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., 512.329.2300, macys.com. Black pants, her own

On Carla: Alison chalcedony earrings, $65, and Elysa bangles, $80, available at Kendra Scott, 1400 S. Congress Ave., Suite 170, 512.354.4737, kendrascott. com. Calvin Klein heels, $99, dress, $119.50, and cardigan, $79.50, available at Macy’s, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., 512.329.2300, macys.com

“Carla usually wears very natural makeup, but with a wedding on the horizon, we wanted to give her a more dramatic look. Because of her olive complexion, she can easily pull off a lovely violet smokey eye.” Lauren Lumsden, Rae Cosmetics


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