For an awesomely heartwarming project entitled If Only For a Second, a Belgian cancer charity called the Mimi Foundation invited 20 cancer patients to participate in a very unusual makeover experience.

Inspired by the statements such as, “You know what I miss the most? Being carefree.”, the purpose of the project was to give participants a moment in which they completely forgot about their illness. Each subject was asked to sit with their eyes closed as their hair and makeup were professionally redone. 

At the last moment, they were placed in front of a two-way mirror and allowed to open their eyes. Each person’s reaction—of astonishment, laughter, and everything in between—was then captured by photographer Vincent Dixon.

Created in collaboration with ad agency Leo Burnett France, the Mimi Foundation has now published a book collecting all of the before and after photos:

"Every photo is followed by a caption, the date and the time the photo was taken and most importantly, the exact second when the person forgot about their disease. Going through this book, the reader is carried away by laughter, giggles and carefree faces. Readers will even be surprised to have on their own faces… a smile. This is the heart of the idea of the ‘If only for a second’ project, to spread smiles and happiness."

Click here to was a short video about this moving project in which we actually get to watch some of these people open their eyes to discover their unexpectedly outrageous new looks. It’s true, you’ll find yourself gaping and smiling right along with them. (And, if you’re anything like us, you’ll need a hanky, but it’s absolutely worth it.)

[via My Modern Metropolis and Laughing Squid]