April 24, 2009

The devastating diagnosis came when she was just 31 years old. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based actress and singer Nicole Bradin had no family history of breast cancer, so a malignant tumor in her left breast was the last thing she expected: "I went alone to the appointment, and couldn't believe it when the doctor said he was 99 percent certain the lump I'd found [through a self-exam] was cancer." Thankfully, after three years and an intensive course of treatment (which included a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation), Nicole, at 34, is cancer-free. "Now I put myself first and no longer worry about the unimportant stuff," she says. "I've learned that taking care of myself is critical."

After putting on more than 40 pounds in the last two years -- the result of medication, and the pain and exhaustion that made staying active difficult -- Nicole is ready to rediscover a life of exercise and healthy eating. "This is my comeback!" she declares. "My goal is to be the most beautiful and successful I've ever been."

To jump-start Nicole's makeover journey, SHAPE editors whisked her off to meet with New York City-based celebrity hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins and makeup artist Troy Surratt.

First, her hair: "Nicole's hair is thick," explains Hawkins, who created layers to release the weight and leave her hair with more volume, movement and shape. He then blew out her tresses and smoothed them with a hot hair iron before adding a few Velcro rollers to soften them even more.

Next, the makeup: "I wanted to play up Nicole's soulful, bright eyes," says Surratt, who also emphasized her radiant complexion. Surratt smoothed on Revlon Skinlights Diffusing Tint Foundation in Nude mixed with a dot of Skinlights Instant Skin Brightener in Bare Light ($14 each). Then he applied Revlon Eyeglide Shimmer Shadow in Sandstone ($6.50; all at drugstores) over the entire lid from the lash line to the brow. Shaped brows, curled lashes, black mascara and a nude lip pencil followed. The result: a natural look that Nicole can easily duplicate at home.