"This is a huge transformation. I'm obsessed," Danielle Staub tells PEOPLE exclusively. "I can't stop looking at myself! I think this is the best thing I've done all year."

By Dave Quinn
November 29, 2017 10:53 PM

Oops … he did it again!

Hairstylist to the stars Julius Michael, who had previously chopped the locks off of Real Housewives of Orange County stars Tamra Judge and Peggy Sulahian, took his scissors to another Housewife’s hair Wednesday night: Real Housewives of New Jersey star Danielle Staub!

The 55-year-old reality star dropped 12 inches of her long brown hair thanks to Michael, who owns Julius Michael Salon in Scarsdale, New York, and fellow stylist Arturo Ortiz — debuting the cut exclusively to PEOPLE before showing it off to the world on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.

“This is a huge transformation. I’m obsessed,” Staub tells PEOPLE. “I can’t stop looking at myself! I think this is the best thing I’ve done all year.”

Credit: Julius Michael

It comes at a special time for Staub too, who is filming the season 8 reunion — her first since leaving the show in season 2 — on Thursday. “Now I feel more empowered than ever,” she says about going into the taping. “I’m ready to stand up to those ladies!”

Danielle Staub
| Credit: Julius Michael

Staub may have taken the plunge, but getting her there wasn’t exactly easy.

“I’ve been talking to Danielle for a few months now about doing her hair, the one condition I threw out there was ‘I have to change your hair,’ ” Michael tells PEOPLE. “At first she was on the fence, then immediately said ‘Okay honey, I completely trust you so do your thing, whatever you guys want to do go for it.’ ”

For inspiration, Michael says he channeled another reality star: Kim Kardashian West.

“I love long hair, but after a while, it’s not appropriate for everyone. In Danielle’s case, I feel like it started to drag her down. There’s a line some of us cross between long and sexy and long and boring,” he says. “That doesn’t mean it needed to go super short though. Since Danielle likes it long, I channeled Kim K. and thought, ‘I do lots of lobs and bobs — let me do the Kim K. longer version of a bob and keep it edgy while still being sexy and keeping Danielle age appropriate while being in the game with the 30-something year olds.’ ”

Priscilla DiStasio, Danielle Staub and Julius Michael
| Credit: Artyoa Ortiz

He then used his Shark Fin Shears for the initial chop, and followed it up with a razor “to add edginess and jaggedness to the cut.”

For styling, Michel went with Bellami hair extensions to add volume; L’ANZA Healing Haircare volume mousse to add some body and lift her roots; BabylissPRO blow dryer and Olivia Garden International‘s “insanely amazing” brand new extra long brushes to get it straight and smooth; BeachWaver Co. pro rotating tools for a slight curl; and Artis Brush (“my secret for flyways”) and L’ANZA Healing Haircare hairspray for a quick smooth over to ensure her hair stays in place.

Celebrity makeup artist Priscilla DiStasio gave her a fresh new look using Era Beauty USA primer and foundation in Y5 and Y7; Too Faced Cosmetics born this way concealers; Wunder2 Cosmetics Wunder Brow in brunette; Laura Mercier translucent powder; Guerlain bronzers; and Rincón Cosmetics liquid lipstick in Baby Joon and Glow Bomb highlighter.

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Danielle Staub before her cut
| Credit: Rodolfo Martinez/Bravo
Danielle Staub after her cut
| Credit: Priscilla DiStasio

RELATED VIDEO: RHONJ Star Danielle Staub on Fighting in Front of The Camera’s: ‘I Play The Broken Record’

The results had Staub wishing she cut if off earlier.

“I think I should have done it sooner, but it would have been a mistake because it wouldn’t have been with Julius,” she said. “There are times I’ve been tempted and I’ve played with it, but I never had the right person to do it. When he suggested this, I had no idea it was seriously going to happen. I feel like he gave me a facelift! ”

The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.