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The Muddy Makeover

When you’re a fourty-something parent who works full-time and runs a household (if my boiler breaks one more time…), priorities tend to be more about remembering to put your knickers on before running out the door than plucking your eyebrows or ensuring your wardrobe is filled with the latest trends.

With the Muddy Barnet waaaay out of control, a wardrobe full of last year’s clothes and a makeup bag screaming for an update, it’s time to bring in the big guns, namely: Max Giammello (hair), Love Moi Makeup (makeup, obvs) and Mrs V, Anita from Vanilla (stylist).

Me with Anita at Vanilla, who planned the entire day

Me with Anita at Vanilla, who planned the entire day

The last time I had a makeover it was the noughties and the outcome – green eyeshadow, a half-up-half-down hair do and a strange pinafore dress  – sent me running for the nearest pub to drown my sorrows. But, as someone who is always up for a challenge, I have agreed to re-live the green eyeshadow horror again for the benefit of my lovely Muddy readers. Deep breathe…  here goes:

The Barnet:
First up: the hair. On the ‘about me’ page of this site I have very long locks, but April was met with a desire for a change and six inches were brutally lobbed off, much to the horror of my then three-year-old daughter. After a week of loving the cut, it lost a bit of definition and – as someone who prefers sleeping to battling straighteners – the barnet now tends to be an unruly mess akin to Monica Geller in Barbados.

"It's the humidity!"

“It’s the humidity!”

Enter Max, who runs Max Giammello hair salon in Ber Street, Norwich. Born in Italy, Max was just 27 when – after a successful period of training with Tony & Guy – he opened his own salon in Norwich and never looked back. An expert in colouring, Max’s success comes from accurately second-guessing what people want – in my case, the same length and colour but a look that’s much more ‘rock chick’ than ‘jungle woman’.

Max’s studio is homely and happily devoid of the loud house music and hipster stylists synonymous with many London salons.

Max Giammello on Ber Street

Max Giammello on Ber Street

Before getting started Max spends a long time looking at my hair and chatting to me about my routine (wash with something cheap, tie up, repeat). He clocks that I do a lot of swimming and spends a while suggesting products to help combat both the chlorine absorption and the dryness.

This is after a hairband and before brushing


If you swim, use Kerasine

If you swim, use Kerastase Aqua Seal beforehand followed by other products

I order a latte (“I’m Italian so the coffee has to be good,” he jokes) before following a lovely lady to the sink for a thorough scrub, condition and massage in a chair which vibrates – I could stay here all day.

Back in the fold, Max suggests that – with my busy lifestyle – he creates something that can be worn two ways: wash and go, and sleek. While brushing, he comments on how wavy it is and works his magic, cutting some weight off the back (it’s thick),  shaping it a bit at the front and giving it a general trim. It’s a good cut and one that holds even when I shake my head vigorously.

Max assesses my hair while I drink lovely coffee

Max serves his customers lovely coffee

I only blow dry my hair when its too cold not to, tending to blast it on a high heat until its dry to touch. “I don’t really add a protective spray or cream beforehand,” I say cringing (surely this is the equivalent of telling James Bond that you don’t wax!). Unperturbed, Max shows me how to add protective serum (from the bottom up so that it doesn’t all end up in the roots).

Next up, a lesson in using a hairdryer that I could have done 20 years ago: always add a nozel (rooky error number one), run it down the hair in long strokes rather than blasting it all over and use your fingers to tame stray sections. Am I the only woman out there that didn’t know this?

Once it’s dry Max starts sleeking it down with GHD straighteners (which are the best, he tells me) before taking a final look, trimming off runaway hairs with scissors.

Eh voila! Perfectly sleek hair without the fuss – my kinda haircut.

The back, madam

The back, madam

And the front

And the front

A cut and blowdry with Max Giammello costs £70.
122 Ber Street, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1 3ES. Tel: 01603 761118.

The Face
Next up, the face – which is beginning to show the telltale signs of cheap moisturiser and someone who prefers wine to water. I drive to Vanilla’s boutique on Ipswich Road and wait for award-winning make-up artist and Beauty Editor Love Moi Makeup to arrive.

Emily of Love Moi Makeup (right) with Anita of Vanilla

Emily of Love Moi Makeup (right) with Anita of Vanilla

Emily has been helping women look and feel their best for over six years, using considered makeup artistry, product knowledge and – most importantly – the ability to listen to what each woman wants in order to create fantastic results. Her work as a wedding makeup artist is legendary – just look at these beautiful girls:


Emily’s job today is to bring out my rather dull blue eyes and even out my skin tone – a pretty tall order!

The first thing I notice, other than how amazing her own makeup looks, is the amount of stuff Emily has to cart around everywhere – from a fold-up table and tablecloth to bags and bags of brushes and makeup, which keep coming out of a suitcase like Mary Poppins. We set up near the window to make the best use of the natural light and get started.

Enough makeup and brushes to sink a battle ship

Now, do I have everything I need?


Emily sits me on a stool, pins my fringe back and gets to work evening out my skin tone with a gel primer and a brush. She then selects a Chanel Vita Lumbiere Aqua hydrating foundation – great for faces like mine that are unused to being covered – and applies the creamy paste with a brush in a sweeping motion from my nose outwards. Once my skin looks flawless, Emily re-injects some colour by adding a soft rose pink blush that she says is perfect for fair complexions like mine.

Chanel xxx Aqua hydrating foundation

Chanel Vita Lumbiere Aqua hydrating foundation


It’s at this point that I announce my second cringeworthy fact of the day: “I don’t pluck my eyebrows, ever!” (don’t worry, I don’t look like Liam Gallagher). Anita – who tells me that she used to run beauty salons before launching Norwich Fashion Week and then opening Vanilla (has this woman had nine lives or something?) – immediately grabs a pair of tweezers and starts pulling out rogue eyebrows with a little too much enthusiasm (any woman who tells you that this doesn’t hurt is lying – and I’ve given birth!).

Once tamed, Emily applies a brow gel in mid brown to add some natural definition and shape. Neutral eyeshadow tones are then added for ‘wearable definition’ followed by black eyeliner – Emily expertly creating the vintage flick that I love but fail at miserably.

Mascara is then applied to my lower lashes while my upper set get the royal treatment – semi-permanent lash extensions that are glued on individually using tweezers. I couldn’t do this without blinding someone but Emily plops one at a time with expert-ease (a new word!). And just look at the result, not to mention the difference.

The eyes have it

The eyes have it

A slick of rosy toned natural lipstick is then applied before my whole face is sprayed with a dewy setting spray. Face done – let’s get dressed…

Tel: 07896 849547.

The Clothes:
Vanilla has been dressing the women of Norfolk for nearly 20 years (watch out for 20th birthday celebrations next year). Run by a husband-and-wife-team, hubby Abhi travels all around Europe to buy the stock, while Anita uses what comes in to create new looks for women.

Winners of the Muddy Awards for Best Women’s Boutique this year, I’m curious to see whether Anita can create a look that I like, bearing in mind that my style errs on vintage (short skirts; polka dots etc) and her store sells more ‘mainstream’ clothes, accessories and jewellery.

Before being dressed up

My usual ‘style’


When serving a new customer, Anita initially suggests they walk around the store and pick up anything that immediately catches their eye. We decide to create four looks (country chic, casual, office and evening); I whip through the racks of clothes feeling like a kid in a candy shop, shopping with wild abandon as if I’m the new owner of a gold credit card. Fun doesn’t even begin to describe it.

While I’m pulling anything and everything off the racks, Anita does the same with clothes that she feels may not be my usual style but would suit me nonetheless. It’s an experiment that works – my first choice of a white shirt over skinny jeans with a tweed, waist-length jacket doing nothing to flatter my figure.

Anita then suggests a different pair of jeans, an oversized blue jumper and a large woolly scarf – items that I would never put together. She does, however, pair the look with the over-the-knee grey boots that I picked up, which immediately lengthen my legs.

Anita dressing me

Anita doing what she does best

Pass me that country pub (and a dog)

Pass me that country pub (and a dog)

Time to go a bit more casual, but still very much on-trend for this year (I’m told), the second look is a combination of both our suggestions: the trousers and jacket mine; the t-shirt and trainers Anita’s. It shouldn’t work (in my unfashionable opinion) but it does.

Yeah, so what of it?

Yeah, so what of it?

Time to head to the office now with a PU pencil skirt (my choice – and a good one apparently as it’s all about PU this year) and a rusty-coloured lacey top with black tights and three-inch black ankle boots. Yep, I could carry this off (walking, however, could be an issue).

I'll be there in a second, boss

I’ll be there in a second, boss

For the evening look, we ask Emily (who expertly took all these wall shots btw) to vamp it up a bit and apply some bold red-plum lip liner to the bottom waterline (where?) and the lips.

For eveningwear, Anita picks up a black, snug, knee-length, lacy dress that I wouldn’t be seen dead in (my face says it all, apparently). Encouraged to try it, I’m poured in, zipped up and told to put on five-inch pointy black shoes. None of this really feels like me, but you can’t deny the results…

Where are you taking me?

All dressed up…

So, four hours, four looks and a lot of laughter later and I’m newly convinced that you can put yourself in the hands of three different experts and love the results. Go figure…

Four new looks...

Four new looks…

... one happy lady

… one happy lady

Dress: £80.
Vanilla, 117a Ipswich Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 6LD. Tel: 01603 452305.

8 comments on “The Muddy Makeover”

  • Sarah November 10, 2016

    Looking good Jo!!!

    • jogardner November 10, 2016

      Aw thanks Sarah x

  • amberevans November 10, 2016

    Looking pretty fab lady! X

    • jogardner November 10, 2016

      Thanks lady! Was a fun day x

  • muddystiletto November 10, 2016

    OMG, you look amazing. I did have to double take on the black dress pic coz I thought you were Anna-Lou for a second LOL! Hero x

    • jogardner November 10, 2016

      Ha ha – thanks so much Hero. Was a top day x

  • debbieward November 14, 2016

    Wow you look such a vamp! Love it. Think I like the office look best. Great hair and make up, really suits you x

    • jogardner November 14, 2016

      Thanks so much Debbie – was a really fun day!


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