View all

It was all good—good work, good timing, good friends, good feelings, and good press—when West Hollywood salon owner Marco Pelusi invited five nurses with UCLA Health to come to the Marco Pelusi Hair Studio on August 1, 2021, for complimentary makeovers. He had the idea at the perfect time to say “thank you” to nurses who’d been facing the stressful task of caring for COVID-19 patients for a year and a half. 

“I enjoy doing makeovers,” Pelusi tells MODERN SALON. “I always have. I’ve done it on TV, and it’s always a feel-good experience to present the ‘before and after.’ I have a longtime color client who’s the chief executive nurse at UCLA Health, and we came up with the idea to do makeovers on nurses.” The client was particularly excited about this, because she was about to present her annual Nurse of the Year awards and thought the makeovers would be a great addition to the awards.

Pelusi first approached the stylists who rent space at his salon, and four immediately agreed to participate. Two makeup people, the clothing company Show Me Your Mumu and a fashion stylist were just as eager to join the project.

“Then I asked my longtime client and friend Carson Kressley to help out,” recalls Pelusi, an award-winning stylist with an impressive list of celebrity clients. “Carson is known for his ability to make people feel good and select clothing for women, so he came in and went through the clothing choices with the nurses and the clothing stylist. The nurses were excited to meet him, and then the company donated the clothes to each nurse. It added a lot of pizzazz.”

A true COVID setting

Because of the pandemic, Pelusi held as much of the event as he could outdoors despite the 90-degree heat. 

“We set up a whole studio outdoors for photos,” he reports. “All the interviewing, video and most of the photography was outdoors. We’ll forever remember this event because it was a such a COVID event.”

To accommodate the nurses’ schedules, Pelusi held the event on a Sunday but thought that would make it hard to get press coverage. However, not only did local KTLA show up, CNN and a few other networks covered the event as well. Of course, no one had a better time than the nurses themselves, even though they had to ease into getting pampered and being in the spotlight.

“I’m so grateful to the community, because nurses rarely take care of themselves,” UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center nurse Dahlia Maldonado told CNN.

A transformative day

“Most of the nurses hadn’t had their hair done in a year and a half,” Pelusi says. “It was really a transformative day." When asked what they wanted in services, a lot of the nurses mentioned highlighting. One nurse also got a smoothing treatment.

"The nurse who got a smoothing treatment wasn’t used to focusing on her hair," Pelusi notes. "She felt like a million bucks when she left! These nurses are pretty selfless, but they went out and posed and had so much fun with the photography. That’s what we were hoping. Maybe they’ll look in the mirror and see the fresh color and feel good about themselves. It was really a ‘wow’ for them. We could feel their energy and their posture and confidence change."

Pelusi and the other stylists are happy they put in this effort. Says Pelusi, "I know that when you’re putting out good energy, which I consistently try to do, good things come back.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.