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Dawn Paglia demonstrates on a co-worker. (Photo by Tyson Trish)
Posted: Tuesday December 27, 2011, 11:45 AM
By KARA YORIO of The Record

Getting that perfect look for New Year’s Eve can be stressful for any woman, but for those going through cancer treatment, it can be particularly disheartening.

Dawn Paglia, a hairdresser for more than 30 years, a licensed cosmetologist and a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Look Good…Feel Better program in North Jersey, has some suggestions.

"I’d say always have your eyebrow pencil and your eyeliner," she says. "Always have lipstick or lip gloss."

While those in a health crisis know better than anyone that appearance isn’t life’s highest priority, in practicality looking good does matter because it can help boost spirits. For sick people, not looking so sick is important. If their hair loss is immediately noticeable, it spotlights their health situation.

"They feel that then people know they’re sick because they can see it," says Paglia, who works at David Michael Hair Studio in Paramus. She believes in the sentiment of the program’s name.

"I think if you do look better, you do feel better, it’s true," she says. "You feel more confident. If you know you’re having a good day and you look good, I think you can tackle things better."

Paglia runs two-hour seminars on makeup and wig tips for women in cancer treatment through the ACS program.

"We try to make it really fun, but the hardest thing for them is losing the hair, losing the eyebrows and then the eyelashes," Paglia says. "That’s why that’s always good to show them how to get them back on, by using the eyebrows pencil or powder to put the eyebrows back on and by using a pencil on the lash line to make it appear like they have lashes."

About three years ago, Paglia’s manager was diagnosed with breast cancer and went to a Look Good…Feel Better seminar while in treatment. She told Paglia about the program and that they needed volunteers.

That was the beginning. Paglia now instructs at the programs at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck. The two-hour session consists of a makeup class followed by some wig tips.

"It usually works out so nice," she says of the sessions. "They’re so appreciative after the classes."

Free fittings

Paglia also goes to the American Cancer Society in Hackensack on Mondays to help with free wig fittings. There, she tells anyone they can call the salon and make an appointment if their wig needs to be trimmed or styled or when they are ready to have their remaining hair buzzed. She volunteers those services as well.

"I had never really done volunteer work before I started doing this, but I get so much out of it, too," she says.

Seminar schedule

Here are upcoming Look Good…Feel Better seminars in North Jersey

Jan. 9

  • 1 to 3 p.m. at Englewood Hospital, 350 Engle St., Englewood
  • 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Hackensack University Medical Center, 20 Prospect Ave., Hackensack

Feb. 6

  • 1 to 3 p.m. at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, 703 Main St., Paterson

Feb. 10

  • 1 to 3 p.m. at Chilton Memorial Hospital, 97 West Parkway, Pompton Plains.

Look Good…Feel Better seminars are offered throughout the year at the hospitals above as well as at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck and Valley Cancer Center in Ridgewood.

To register or for more information: 1-800-395-LOOK, lookgoodfeelbetter.org

Email: yoriok@northjersey.com

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