Bedford mom Candy Croteau wins makeover contest from H2O salon spa

Bedford’s Candy Croteau is one who knows that dreams come true.

The young mom recently won a contest posted on Facebook that offered a stylish makeover – haircut, hair color and makeup – courtesy of H2O Salon Spa in the Bedford Grove shopping center on South River Road.

The contest was well named as the Celebrity Swoon Worthy Transformation Contest. It drew a dozen contenders. The H2O business is a high-caliber enterprise owned by its namesake, Heather Owen, a nationally acclaimed leader in the beauty industry.

Owen, proprietor and art director, colored, cut and styled Croteau’s hair. Owen’s sister, Gretchen Makris, a licensed stylist for some 20 years and the director/stylist for H2O, applied Croteau’s makeup. The pair gave Croteau the makeover on Jan. 29. Croteau’s mom was there to witness the excitement.

Owen said that Croteau won the contest because she submitted an inspirational story. The contest entry caught Owen’s attention because it related to a deeply personal life change that took courage and perseverance for Croteau to accomplish.

“Candy sent me photos and told me her story,” Owen said. “There are people who are so deserving. You have to give back. We like to do this. It’s a special ‘feel good.’ I wanted to make her feel like she is celebrity swoon worthy and beautiful.”

Croteau, 29, a mother-to-be, said she entered the contest because she was ready for a transformation. She is the mother of a girl, Molly Ann Croteau, 5, and a boy, Nicholas Cameron Croteau, 6. Another son, Cameron, who was profoundly disabled, passed away in 2007 at age 3. A month later, Nick was born. He bears the name Cameron as a middle name in honor of his brother.

“He was doing really, really well,” Croteau said of Cam. “He went to bed. I checked on him. He had passed. One week later, we had his funeral.”

She mourned. She was depressed. She weighed 234 pounds. She admits she was doing for others instead of taking care of herself.

“One day, I got mad and that was it,” Croteau said. “I wanted to be able to get down on the floor and play with my kids like I used to do. As soon as I swapped out things – green beans instead of a pile of rice – I began to feel better. I’d been in an amazing rut.”

She decided to eat nutritious foods. She went back to school. Now, she works with dementia patients as an LNA, a licensed nursing assistant. Today, she is 80 pounds lighter. She eats more fruits and vegetables and less bread. She finds enjoyment in using an in-home treadmill and weights.

“I noted a big difference in about two months,” Croteau said. “I went from a size 22 to a junior size. The change has been good for my kids, too. They used to call vegetables ‘disgusting.’ Now, they like a lot of good foods.”

Croteau, now around 154 pounds, added that with improved health she also found relief from symptoms of asthma. She had suffered with asthma for years.

“After I lost the first 18 pounds, the asthma symptoms went away,” Croteau said. “It’s close to two years now without any trouble.”

The day of pampering at H2O progressed. The “before” morphed into an even more beautiful, “after” effect, one backed with a look of contentment on Croteau’s now-dewy face.

Owen, who has taught beauty education in London and Paris, stepped back in her high heels and considered Croteau’s finished look. The salon spa’s guru of gorgeous had added some shine to a color mixture that brought a warm, brown color to Croteau’s long, naturally thick hair. Makris had applied to the young mother a creamy foundation and a smokey lilac eye color.

Makris commented on Croteau’s “really nice cheekbones.” A soft eye-liner pencil, some mascara and a pink lip color finished off Croteau’s makeover experience.

Beauty photographer Kendal J. Bush, of Francestown, formerly a photographer for National Geographic and now well known locally for her wedding photography, snapped away to chronicle the makeover for the salon spa’s archives.

She gave Croteau two thumbs-up.

The contest winner accepted a hand-held mirror and admired her new look. She thanked Owen and Makris and the salon’s staff for their gift. She said she still enjoys taking care of other people, but she’s also taking care of herself. She had orchestrated, in her own time, a makeover for her life. Then, she welcomed a further transformation from H2O Salon and Spa. Now, Croteau embraces a new descriptor – swoon worthy.

“It had to be at my own time,” Croteau said.

The H2O salon spa was named in August by Elle Magazine as one of the Top 100 Salons in America. It has been featured on New Hampshire Chronicle by WMUR on Channel 9.

The H2O enterprise was voted by New Hampshire Magazine as the Best Salon in New Hampshire in 2010.

In addition, H2O was awarded in 2012 a Business Excellence award by New Hampshire Business Review.

For more information on the H2O Celebrity Swoon Worthy Transformation Contest, or for other details about H2O salon spa and its many services, call 641-3050 or visit