VANIA BAILEY has big plans for 2017 - she wants to help women empower themselves.
"This year is about looking after yourself. If you don't take time out for yourself you are doing yourself and everyone around you a disservice," Vania says.

"It can be as simple as sitting device-free and having a cup of tea. For me, I like to recharge in nature. "So many women get beaten down with life and forget who they are and how fabulous they can be."

That is why when Alex Lewis walked into Vania's clinic to get her eyebrows done her life took a turn for the better.

"I was really taken with Alex. She came to me with no eyebrow hair and old tattoos in their place had been lasered off."

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Alex, who is coming up 65, had lost her brows and her hair after chemo following surgery for cervical cancer in 1988.

Alex is reluctant to talk about her treatment. "It was so long ago and I find if I mention it now people think I'm playing the sympathy card so I keep it to myself."

Vania wanted to help Alex regain her confidence and "ignite that spark we all have inside".
"She pulled on my heart strings," Vania said. "Lots of women with no partner think 'what's the point'. The point is doing something for yourself that makes you feel good about your self."

So she offered to give Alex a makeover. She started with her brows, creating a very natural looking brow by Microblading them. This is also known as Feathertouch Brows.
Then came the makeup, hair, clothes and a photo shoot.

"I couldn't have achieved Alex's compete look without the help of a great team," Vania says.

"Kim McQueen from RM Napier foiled through her hair and applied a darker colour to the base. Suzy from K&K Clothing in Emerson St selected the perfect outfit to suit Alex and the wonderful Meredith Lord had Alex at her ease as she took some amazing photographs."

I spoke to Alex just moments after she had left the photo shoot. She was buzzing with excitement.

"Now I know I can look like this I'll be taking better care of myself. I've learned what colours suit me and that at my age softer colours are better,"Alex said.'

"My hair is just amazing. It was so dull. Now it's darker at the roots and frosted at the ends. As far as I'm concerned Kim McQueen's name is perfect for her because I think she is the queen of hairdressers and she's got herself a permanent client.

"Vania doesn't know it yet but I'm going to ask her for makeup lessons so I can feel like this all the time. Now I know I can look like this and how good it makes me feel I want it to last forever."

Alex, who has been a widow for 18 years (her husband died on her 46th birthday), said she couldn't thank Vania enough.

"I feel so, so lucky. It's just been a fantastic day. I'm off to buy a bottle of wine and surprise a friend. I'll be sleeping sitting up straight tonight, I want this to last as long as possible," she laughed.

Vania used Bobbi Brown nourishing foundation which "evens skin tone and creates a dewy finish". She also used a mineral powder and Bobbi Brown Bronzer.

"The lipstick I used was also Bobbi Brown in Rose. I also used a little bit of lipstick on her checks like the old fashion rouge for a pop of colour. As we age we lose the shape of our lips so it's better to select soft natural colours rather than bright bold ones."

Vania's message for all women is to "make sure you reward yourself".

"Women are strong and are hard workers but they are not good at rewarding themselves, have a pedicure, a facial or a spray tan. Something. it doesn't have to cost the earth - just give yourself a bit of love in 2017."

*Vania Bailey is a professional makeup artist, also known as Hawke's Bay's Brow Queen. She has a waiting list, but it's well worth the wait. For information go to Vania Inc, vania.co.nz.