Cutting-Edge Hair News - 2006
Courtesy TV Heads
When we pondered which co-host of television's Early Show has the best hair, one thing was obvious right away: Harry Smith wouldn't be a contender. That left the three women on the panel - and with the news of Rene Syler's departure, we suddenly realized we had to move quickly. Had CBS blundered, by sending Syler (left) and her wide-ranging (and occasionally wild) curls off the program?
The eight-day poll on this topic frankly surprised us. Julie Chen always ranks high on our search engine, and brings many requests for styling information -- but Hannah Storm (right) outpolled her, by 50 to 42 percent. Syler had to settle for third place, with eight percent. She also brought the only comment from a voter, apparently because of our picture. "Rene looks like she just woke up and rode to work on the back of a motorcyle without a helmet," the voter wrote. Curls simply get no respect sometimes....
Courtesy ABC News
Kirstie Alley had a tough act to follow on Cheers years ago -- replacing the "Ultimate 50" hair of Shelley Long. But she probably impressed some Hair Fans more than Long did, with a long sidepart which hovered around her left eye many times. Since that series ended, Alley's career has had some ups and down -- with her weight and otherwise. But an e-mail to us said Alley's latest move went too far, by turning into a blonde.
While she certainly went against the current darker trend in Hollywood, did the "Fat Actress" do the right thing by lightening her locks? Our week-long poll found two-thirds of our Hair Fans don't think so (16-8). One voter wrote the brunette color was more natural, and her overall style was "pretty thick and lustrous." Others longed for the days of the Boston bar, with one saying Alley was "devastatingly hot" in years gone by.
When someone e-mails us to complain about a style turning "shabby," that's one thing. When that style happens to belong to someone who's been nominated for Crown Awards, that's another. Yet that was the complaint we received about Kristin Dodd of the Weather Channel. At least one viewer is openly unimpressed by Dodd changing to a shoulder-length look, which appears flat-ironed around her face.
Does Dodd have a dud here? Most of our voters say no. Our eight-day poll found 57 percent of you like the change (13-10). While one voter said she "looks great either way," others called for at least a trim of her ends. But it turns out this cut may not be completely Dodd's choice. We received e-mail during the poll from a Hair Fan who has contact with The Weather Channel -- and we're told the channel has its own salon under contract, which makes the calls regarding meteorologists' styles. If that salon has stylists checking in here -- are you paying attention?
The TV drama Medium has a rather strange premise to begin with - as a woman with psychic powers helps solve crimes. It seemed star Patricia Arquette was more concerned about the cases than her cuts, because her hair has fallen in her face frequently in tense situations. But she trimmed her long locks to a shorter bob for the current season, which should provide her some more control.
Did Arquette think this through properly? Hair Fans in an eight-day poll said no, by a 71-percent margin (17-7). But judging from the comments section, perhaps we should have had a third choice - none of the above. "Those bangs are hideous," one voter wrote. "When she started Medium in season one she had no bangs and was quite fetching." (We'd honestly forgotten about that style.) Others bitingly speculated Arquette "cuts her hair herself with a ruler and a pair of shears," or maybe "uses a T-square." And one ruled out any place in our Top Ten for Arquette, writing she's "about as super as the ends of a frayed curtain."
Any woman can show up at an awards show with drop-dead gorgeous, perfectly styled hair. But how many would shake that hair quickly back and forth on live television, while singing - and even flip her head down and up a time or two, risking her style falling all over her face? Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls did in mid-November, without her hair collapsing. That eye-catching display of style control makes her the well-earned winner of our poll, for the best hair of the 2006 American Music Awards.
While Nicole's attractive thick locks sometimes drop in her eyes during steamy music videos, added spray and curl on the side must have helped her on stage. That hair strength turned in 50 percent of the vote in our week-long poll. Beyonce offered something similar (and a bit windblown), which brought her a tie for second with 19 percent. Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks was a pleasant surprise, by tying Beyonce with soft long hair. Then came Alyson Michalka of the contemporary Christian duo "Aly and AJ" with 13 percent.
Gwen Stefani's new heavy-bang look reminding us of a blonde Cher didn't impress any voters, as she was blanked. And our personal biggest disappointment of the night was Carrie Underwood, who slicked down her hair so much that she seemed to be letting someone else win for a change.
Sometimes it seems like there's a "blonde factory" somewhere, producing one young celebrity after another. Hilary Duff followed shortly after Britney Spears, yet so far has taken a different course on several levels. For instance, Duff's long hair was cut with bangs to stay out of her eyes much longer. And when Duff decided to try a brunette shade, she did not do it with an attention-getting walk for the paparazzi -- instead putting it on the cover of the October Seventeen magazine, and partially starting a celebrity hair fashion trend.
But did Duff's dying do right with our voters? Hair Fans in our eight-day poll couldn't decide, with 50 percent going each way (21-21). While most commenters supported the darker look, another issue surfaced -- whether Duff's bangs should stay or go. "If she wants to look more sophisticated yet sexy, the blonde without bangs is the way to go!" one wrote. While that voter considered the bangs "childish," another called them "cute." And as for the comment about Duff's "capped teeth" -- well, we welcome sponsorships from dentists and toothpaste.
(We should note People magazine's style blog has shown Duff darkening her hair still further, to "goth black." Has she been spending too much time around Ozzy Osbourne's family?)
We've known for years that many country music stars have great hair. But Carrie Underwood seems to be raising the bar to a very high level. That's what we said when we saw Underwood at the 2006 Country Music Association Awards. Underwood's long hair was wavy, as opposed to the fuller curls she displayed in May at the Academy of Country Music show. And on top of that, she sang much of her music in front of some kind of wind machine. Underwood's impressive style was blown back, but never fell down. And as a result, she completed a "country double" - gaining your vote as the best hair at both music shows this year.
Just as in May, Underwood raced to a big early lead. But just as in May, another woman made a late charge trying to catch her. Martina McBride came close -- but then Underwood seemingly glanced back for a moment, before turning up the windblown power to cruise to 60 percent of the vote to McBride's 32 percent. Then came -- WHAT?!? -- Faith Hill with eight percent. (But enough about that silly controversy.) Underwood was praised for her cute sweet appearance, as well as what one voter described as "curly hair with bounce." Others gave McBride applause for opting for a longer style, instead of the look which won our first Crown Award for Best Short Hair. "Short hair seems to say get out of my way," one wrote.
No responsible Weather Channel meteorologist would ever claim the title "star." But the channel actually may be trying to create some. There's now a prime-time program named not after the time of day, but the meteorologists on the set. Stephanie Abrams is the female half of "Abrams and Bettes" - but when we watched in early October, we noticed something curious. The promotional ads show Abrams with windblown waves, while she's live with a style which looks flatironed straight.
Which way should Abrams turn with her hair? Our week-long poll found 59 percent of Hair Fans want her to stick with the straight stuff (16-11). "Waves look like she has bed head," one voter explained - "or stuck her fingers in an electrical socket." But from the other side came this: "Straight looks like it's been glued to the sides of her head!" We agree with that view - the picture we have makes Abrams look like she processed her style for hours. But it might hold better under TV lights, as opposed to the waves which could crash down in a tropical storm.
Sometimes women make a style change by choice - but sometimes it happens because their hair is damaged. Broadway, TV and movie actress Kristen Chenowith told talk show host Jay Leno in early October that's why she had to cut hair which for years fell below the shoulders. A "hair crisis," as she put it, resulted in a trim to the jawline. But sometimes a change like this can help a woman discover a look that's even better for them. Did that happen here?
In Chenowith's case, our one-week poll of voters said no. It was close, but a 54-percent majority want her to grow the style back out (13-11). In terms of a holding style, we think the shorter cut could last longer with a bit of teasing and spraying. But several voters said that short look added years to Chenowith's appearance -- "like an old lady's style." And one made a very perceptive comparison of our pictures, writing it looked like "Kate Bosworth vs. Barbara Mandrell."
"You see, children, in the fall of 2006, someone in the fashion world decided all women needed to become brunettes...." So the narrator on the TV comedy How I Met Your Mother could say in the year 2030. Female lead Alyson Hannigan must have received that style e-mail about changing colors, because she's following that trend in the current season of the show. A Hair Fan moaned about it on our message board -- and a one-week poll found a narrow majority of our voters displeased as well.
Hannigan's hair was red before, and 54 percent of you want to see red again (14-12). One cynic declared, "Brunettes are a dime a dozen." (We don't know; we haven't gone shopping for extensions lately.) Another agreed that "redheads are rare. They are unique and stand out.... like seeing a beautiful sunset!" Perhaps the trend will change back -- and Hannigan's sun will rise again.
From the length of news stories to how much leg was showing in interviews, Katie Couric has been under a lot of scrutiny since becoming the anchor of television's CBS Evening News. Her ratings first went up, then slid down. Then came a different sort of move "up" in late September, which surprisingly didn't receive much public attention at all - as Couric trimmed her flipped hair a couple of inches, so the ends stop just above the shoulders.
We've analyzed Couric cuts in this area for years (even down to how much she should spend on them) - so we obviously had to ask about this change as well. A 12-day vacation-extended poll found 55 percent of Hair Fans want the flips and length brought back (24-20). A supporter of the change declared shorter hair "looks thicker and more professional." But an opponent argued the new look is "flat out boring," because the flipped ends provide "more motion and body." And one voter admittedly longed for something even longer than the left look, with Couric's hair going below the shoulders.
To be successful on Dancing With the Stars (known in some countries under different names), you have to learn a lot of different steps. To have successful Super-Hair, that isn't always the case - but Samantha Harris is showing it can be done. The first few weeks of Season 3 found the co-host in a style pattern: added soft waves on Tuesday nights, and straight as a chorus line (we think thanks to a flat-iron) on Wednesday nights.
Harris has shown strong hold with both approaches, but which look is better for her? Our nine-day poll found 60 percent of Hair Fans prefer the straight way (12-8). We admit we're in the minority, which had one voter cheering for Harris to "ride the waves!" But another may have been wishing for a third option, of both: "Love the versatility of the look. Makes you wonder each night what she will do. It all pays off in the end." It certainly does, as Harris has proven her place in our Top Ten Tresses list with great control under live conditions.
It all began with an unusual surge of interest on our search engine. Former Top Ten Tresses member Debbie Wasserman Schultz suddenly was in demand, and we didn't know why. A check online explained it -- as the first-term Florida Congressperson had been named by the Washington political publication The Hill as one of the 50 most beautiful people on Capitol Hill. Yet that publication also revealed to us Ms. Wasserman Schultz had displayed a very different look for part of the year -- flat-ironing straight her natural curls which won our interest.
Should this lawmaker stay on the straight course? Our one-week poll (unscientific, with no sampling error) left us shocked -- as a massive 91-percent majority want the flat-iron hot and Ms. Wasserman Schultz using it (29-3). One voter said her curls "just looked sticky," while another feared your fingers would get caught in them. (When will some voters realize -- with a complex maze of curls, getting your hands lost is part of the fun!)
We'll see if this House member "governs by the polls," and makes straight hair a permanent look. But her aides seriously doubt it, telling The Hill she has little time each day for extensive preparation.
The big "hair story" heading into Season 10 of ABC's The View involved the new co-host. Not only was Rosie O'Donnell expected to shake up the discussion, she also reportedly had a "no-haircut" clause in her contract - because her viewership on her old talk show reportedly dropped after she made a cut. Apparently Elizabeth Hasselbeck isn't bound by any such rules, because she came back from the summer break with shoulder-length waves trimmed to neck-length and slightly flared.
Did Hasselbeck overreact? Our one-week poll went back and forth -- but ends with 59 percent of you saying shorter is better (30-21). That's not what commenters wrote, though. "It used to look soft and touchable," one complained. (We agree -- and in fact, the long hair still attractively bounces in the show's opening credits as we post this.) Another wondered if Hasselbeck had "a sleep styling accident." (Well, her flares were lopsided on opening day.) Yet another person wasn't quite sure what to think - calling the "before" picture limp and bland, while declaring the "after" picture too choppy: "Maybe after it grows out a bit, it'll look better."
Courtesy Yahoo! TV/Wireimage.com
Some women use awards shows to spring "style surprises" -- trying new hair looks, to see if they're a hit or a miss. Mariska Hargitay certainly did that at the 2006 Emmy Awards, for this medium-long straight style with light bangs. Compared with her short and built-for-action sidepart on Law and Order SVU, it was the most noticeable change of the night. And while she didn't win our poll for the best style of the show (scroll down to see who did), Hargitay gained what we considered surprising support from Hair Fans in a follow-up poll.
The one-week question found 64 percent of you support the longer cut (25-14) -- and plenty of people willing to talk about it. "I love her with longer hair," one backer wrote. "The shorter style was getting old and worn out." Another said the new approach "looks incredible" - but scoffers said found another word for it: fake-looking. "Longer makes it look like she's trying to copy Jennifer Aniston," one opponent complained. "The length makes her look flatter and thinner," wrote another. And there was this comment-section exchange:
"Mariska, you're not 19 any more."
"The other commenter is right - Mariska is not 19 anymore, and her longer hair makes her look more mature and elegant than the 'school boy' look of the shorter hair."
Courtesy Yahoo! TV/Wireimage.com
There's nothing like the hair at an awards show - and there's nothing like a bit of a breeze outside an awards show to reveal which styles are simply beautifully well-positioned, and which ones have the strength under pressure to be Super-Hair. The 2006 Emmy Awards seemed to provide that sort of wind test on the red carpet -- and out voters determined Leah Remini of The King of Queens had the best all-around style.
With rings of soft curls combined with a hard-fighting slight flip above the right eye, Remini raced to victory in our eight-day poll with 50 percent of the vote. Then came two rather controversial styles, as Mariska Hargitay gained 23 percent to Jennifer Love Hewitt's 13 percent. Hargitay went long with bangs (we're asking a separate question about that change). Hewitt emerged from a spring chop with long straight locks, which one voter desired to "run your hands through" for one minute - while another asked a very good question about whether she was wearing extensions. We personally preferred the endless curls of Sofia Milos of CSI: Miami fame; they (well, she) tied with Sara Ramirez at five percent.
And by the way, lest you think Remini's hair couldn't move in a breeze without collapsing, look at this additional photo. It's as if the wind tried to force the flip down to defeat in her right eye - but bangs seem to blow across the forehead, and that small bit of curl is just barely enough to keep the hair out. Super-Hair truly can be a game of inches. Or better put, fractions of them.
Right photo courtesy Getty Images
Jennifer Connelly won an Academy Award a few years ago, for playing the wife of A Beautiful Mind. Some people thought the actress had beautiful looks, including long hair which she could adjust from conservative to steamy (as in our left photo). So we were surprised when a Hair Fan tipped us off to Connelly's updated look - a shoulder-length style with lots of bangs, which reminds us a great deal of a 70's-era shag.
Did Connelly make a good change? The answer from 61 percent of you in our 11-day poll was no -- that the hair should stay long, and without bangs. "The current style is very soccer mom and a 'blend in the crowd' style," one voter complained. The shorter approach gained 33-percent support, while six percent proposed a combination of old and new. It was clear from the comments section that the combination ought to be longer - as Connelly's long look was praised for "sizzle.... it makes her face almost glow!"
(We personally are intrigued by the shorter style. The long locks fell in Connelly's face too easily. But the new look seems to be more carefully, and almost more defensively placed - as if she'd be ready, if someone wanted to take it on.)
Maybe it's the medium-long length. Maybe it's the hint of curl she often displays. Maybe it's the subtle lifting back, to make sure the forehead is clear of stray hair. Whatever the reason, CNN entertainment reporter Sibila Vargas has accomplished what no one ever has. She's outvoted The Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman in our annual Hair Fans' ranking of the Top Ten Tresses list.
Vargas broke free of Tilghman toward the end of our week-long poll, and finished first with 31 percent of your votes. Tilghman fell into second at 25 percent, followed by Samantha Harris who came charging hard at the close for 19 percent. Then came a logjam with our top two at voting time -- Stephanie Dhue and Alexandra Steele tying Jennifer London and Lisa Salters with six percent each.
The news is grim for Kamala Harris and Paula Froelich, receiving no votes from Hair Fans. And it looks especially ominous for "original Ten" member Carolyn Peck - as she not only went voteless, but was panned by several voters in the comments section. "So bland and unkept. She needs help!" moaned one. Another voter offered no fewer than nine alternatives for replacing Peck. Trouble is, most of the people named have defeated styles -- so will that save our Ultimate #2? Keep checking....
We try to stay up-to-date about the heads of Super-Hair we post here - but we appreciate you filling in the gaps, when we get busy and overlook someone. A Hair Fan in north Texas alerted us to the latest look of Dallas-Fort Worth City League Megan Henderson. "It looks much better now," the e-mailer told us -- with a style perhaps a couple of inches longer, and inlaid bangs (or is the hair tucked back behind an ear?) instead of a rounded shell.
But when we asked visitors in general about this change, the house was divided -- 52 percent in favor of it, 48 percent against (11-10). "The length is a nice addition," one wrote, "but the bangs distract from her beautiful facial features. I think the no-bangs look has a better 'Super-Hair' looking, meaning less hair in the face." (Keeping the hair perfect with such angles around her right eye can be a challenge -- but awe-striking, if she can do it.) But another commenter suggested, "The darker color and bangs bring out her eyes." And another hailed Henderson's hair by writing, "Longer, lusher, and more natural color wins."
It was billed as the celebrity "scandal of the summer" -- well, until a man named Gibson was stopped for drunk driving. In case you don't read tabloids or watch TV "entertainment news" shows, the three women above were named in a marital separation on New York's Long Island. Peter Cook was accused of cheating on model Christie Brinkley (center) with 19-year-old Diana Bianchi (left) - and then reporters found out Cook had a similar romance ten years before (while single) with then-19-year-old singer Samantha Cole (right).
It's only our theory, but perhaps Cook has a "hair control" problem: he's too easily tempted by attractive heads of hair. We asked you which of these three good styles would win if they clashed (say, in a catfight at a Hamptons party) -- and we have to hand it to Brinkley. Even though she's 52 years old, she's still considered a supermodel by Hair Fans. She won 59 percent of the vote in our week-long poll, compared with 24 percent for Cole and 18 percent for Bianchi (10-4-3).
"Brinkley would get the nod for her longevity and great hair overall," wrote one voter who seems to choose on the side of experience. But that voter praised Cole for waves and curls which are "worn amazingly well.... Cole wears it perfectly." (Cole also can go straight with her long hair, and impresses us with the energy all her styles seem to exude -- helped by that attractive wide smile!) We learned something unusual from this poll, as voters discussed whether or not Bianchi with her enticing waves was a "Bond girl." Apparently Daniella was, but Diana at age 19 is a bit too young for that -- at least now.
Courtesy ABC/The View
Actress Diane Lane says she's always wanted to have short hair - but the people casting movie parts simply wouldn't stand for it. It appears the objections go far beyond that. Lane won a pair of Crown Awards in 2003 for displaying medium-long waves in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. When she had eight inches of hair removed on live television in July (as fellow charity chopper Anne Curry watched and coached), Hair Fans voted it down.
Only 24 percent of the visitors in our one-week poll liked Lane's new look (6-19). Several comments about the change were cynical, with one calling it a "cheap publicity" stunt. Another voter bemoaned because, "Good looking redheads are rare to see, and then when you see that one of the pretty ones chops it off, it hurts." And one person wondered, "Is she pregnant?" We don't know; we haven't read Us magazine lately.
Courtesy InStyle and Wireimage
It appeared for much of 2005 that Eva Mendes would steamroll her way to the Super-Hair Wars championship - with an emphasis on the "steam." The actress tends to make many males have a meltdown, and her long thick hair has been a key part of that power. Yet Mendes lost in the Wars semifinals -- so is that what's inspired her to shorten her look? Our right picture from June 2006 shows a glamorous slightly flipped cut, stopped just above the shoulders.
While our voters usually condemn cuts of long hair, they swooned over this one. Our seven-day poll found Mendes's change gaining 74-percent support (17-6) -- and inspiring alliteration which went far beyond steam. "She's sizzlin' sexy, smokin', sensual, stylish, stunning and sultry," said one comment. Add to those S's Sophia -- as another person called her look "very Sophia Loren!" (Hopefully younger Hair Fans know who she is; if not, try an IMDB search.) But one voter rained on the parade, because Mendes's hair looks lighter now: "the blonde just does not look natural on her."
We dare to lean against this change for another reason. Mendes's new look certainly turns up the heat of passion where it seemed almost impossible with her -- but at that boiling point, we found it almost impossible to find a picture where this style is out of her right eye. While this is a terrible comparison, the current flip of Madonna is a bit higher on the head to keep the hair off her face and provide room to bounce a bit. Mendes's eye-covering set probably would annoy some women over time. But before it did, we'd certainly want to reach for the right cheekbone and test that flip's strength. Turning, twisting, pushing.... sorry....
Courtesy Reporter Caps
When Robin Meade was the focus of a Hair Watch here, we thought we saw hints of bangs a couple of times. During some appearances on CNN Headline News in late June, Meade ended the mystery - showing about a two-inch-wide strip above the right eye. We've suspected women use bangs in this way as a warning marker. Feel them on the forehead, and it's time to take quick action to protect the style.
Should Meade bring the bangs out of the emergency hiding place, and display them all the time? Our week-long poll found Hair Fans split -- with 59 percent supporting them in the vote count (10-7), but with bang-bashers abounding in the comment section. "Robin is a beautiful person," wrote one, "however she has been on a slippery slope in her trims and colors. Maybe she will cut a mullet next...." Another voter opposed bangs in general because "they crowd the face and are itchy on the forehead." (We'd never thought of an itch factor before -- can any women with bangs confirm that?) But one bang believer asked either way, "can this woman do no wrong?" The answer from many -- maybe so.
She's considered one of the best celebrity guests to book for talk shows - yet we don't recall comic actress Bonnie Hunt talking about her hair all that much over the years. When she starred in the TV series Life With Bonnie, her "working mom" cut bounced very well and had a good degree of hold to it. But recently, as she promoted the animated movie Cars, she appeared to be growing out her style - actually going back toward the length she had in her first starring role with CBS in the early 1990's. (We can understand, if you don't remember it.)
Which version of hair helps Hunt more? Our eight-day poll found 58 percent of you prefer the longer approach (19-14). Everyone leaving comments sided with the majority, with one calling the shorter style "that Linda Evans Dynasty look." Another suggested Hunt "thin out the bangs or even lose them altogether. They are too thick." But yet another vote said thickness and softness overall is good, and long hair "accentuates those qualities."
Right photo courtesy Reporter Caps
A few years ago, ABC truly was a "Stark-studded" network. Betsy and Lisa Stark are still there, in the news division (both members of our Ultimate 50 list). But Melissa Stark probably has built the biggest following over the years, from working the sidelines at Monday Night Football games (a vidcap from 2002 is at left) -- only to move on to the NBC networks. Currently she's most often seen behind the news desk at MSNBC, and she's showing hair which clearly is going longer than before.
We estimate Stark's additional length measures at three inches in our right photo -- and it's the right move in the eyes of 64 percent of our Hair Fans. During our seven-day survey (18-10), one voter said this was unusual case where longer hair actually looks more professional. "Maybe because the shorter style was swept behind her ears, and it made her look like a college kid heading to class," the voter wrote. But Stark had better stay away from college swimming pools; Hair Fans with good memories will recall how often wind blew her shorter style into her face at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Right photo courtesy Sony Pictures
We had read some complaints about it, but didn't consider it a big deal. But when we heard the hair of Tom Hanks come up in a sermon by a Presbyterian pastor, we knew we had to bring it up here. It seems some churches have been challenging more than the content and message of The DaVinci Code -- they're also challenging the style selection of one of the stars.
Hanks went long for this movie, compared with Apollo 13 and others - so long that he needed to tuck it behind the ears a bit. Hair Fans clearly were skeptical of this, voting down the change by a 74-percent margin (14-5) over eight days of our poll. Maybe Hanks would dismiss this style the way he did the theory of the entire film plot -- calling it in one interview "madness."
Hair Fans can be a curious lot, sometimes. Blonde candidates tend to dominate the nomination list at Crown Awards time. Shades of blonde make up three of the four semi-finalists in Super-Hair World Cup II. Yet when we asked Hair Fans to tell us flat-out which color is the best, the brunettes (as in three-time Crown winner for Best Brunette Bonnie Bernstein) dominated.
We admit we were stumped for a topic, so we asked this basic color question -- and even with filters on, voting surged to a level we hadn't seen in months. Brunettes were preferred over blondes by 62 to 23 percent, with redheads gaining 15 percent (33-12-8). Yet "Club Red" won the most praise from commenters. "A nice head of thick, wavy red hair is hard to find. A rarity," one wrote. "Is there anything hotter than a redhead with green or blue eyes?" another asked. To which this answer came: "brownheads with blues eyes." And the blondes kept quiet?!
Almost one year to the day after she won the fourth American Idol, Carrie Underwood was a winner again. She received two Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas (before the final round of Idol singers was televised in Nevada) - and her flowing sturdy waves won your vote, for the best style of the show.
Underwood jumped out to a big lead in our week-long poll, just as we expected -- as her style almost demands Hair Fans touch it and try to muss it, yet the curls gave it precise hold during turns and bends with little movement. But then came a charge from someone who almost missed our ballot by appearing too late. Sara Evans finishes a close second, losing by 48 to 39 percent of the vote. Gretchen Wilson had nine percent, while Michelle Branch of "The Wreckers" (why this name, since her hair is hardly ever a wreck?) received four percent.
Tying up some loose ends from commenters: Kelly Clarkson went back to brunette, and seemed to have some pins. Julie Roberts threw her blonde locks back in a very conservative look, but she didn't make our list because riskier styles came along. And as for the person who wanted to vote for 2006 Idol finalist Katherine McPhee instead -- didn't they show toll-free numbers on the screen to do that?
We had to be a little cautious about posting a question involving the TV newsmagazine Inside Edition. The last time we did it, weekend anchor Trish Bergin was shown the door in mid-poll. But this time, the change occurred at ABC World News Tonight -- so perhaps Deborah Norville passed something on to Elizabeth Vargas?!
Oh well, our real issue here is hair -- and Norville shortened hers from shoulder-length to chin-length in May. Uninspired Hair Fans turned down the change by a 69-percent margin (20-9), and we agree with them. The shorter look is nice for elegant parties, but doesn't thrill us as a daily cut. So uninspired were the voters that no one commented for several days. One called the change a "close call," praising the shorter style's body. But another complained: "I would have to fire my stylist if they chopped my hair like that." And another even brought up the Bergin example. At least Diane McInerney remains on this show....
Who says contestants on reality shows have only 15 minutes of fame? One-time TV journalist Shawn Killinger may prove to be an exception to the rule -- at least around here? She gained three Crown Award nominations for her stint on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart - but she fell short in both web and TV. Yet when Killinger was brought into Super-Hair Wars with her crisp short style grown out a bit, things changed.
Killinger scored a dramatic come-from-behind extra-time win in our Wars, and Hair Fans voting here gave the longer look a resounding 78 percent show of support (21-6). One comment writer in our eight-day poll said Killinger now looks "cuter, softer and more feminine." (Maybe so, but it's all about hold and precision for us, and the shorter style has plenty of that.) Another wondered about Killinger's "long face." Short of a cruel vice, we have no advice to offer there.
When last we saw Jennifer Love Hewitt in this corner of the web site, she was your choice for the best hair at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Then she won the Crown Award for Best Bangs. But one trip to a stylist can change everything - and when Hewitt appeared on Jay Leno's late-night talk show in late April, the long locks were gone and a neck-length sideswept look was in.
Had the star of Ghost Whisperer been in one too many staredowns with an evil spirit? Some Hair Fans thought so at first, as Hewitt's cut brought a rush of opposition. But our eight-day poll ended with the margin relatively close -- yet with 55 percent of you against the change (17-14). "Did she lose a bet?" one critic wondered. Another brought up a topic which never really crossed our mind: "Her color WAS rich, dark and lovely. Now it's fake. Sad, sad, sad." (Of course, how do we know the old brunette color was really hers?)
We personally think this cut makes Hewitt's style less risky, in terms of collapsing -- yet at the same time more tempting to go after, to try to make collapse. The award-winning bangs are still there, but how deep are they on that left side? With less length to offer a bit of weight, could some wind pressure mean serious trouble? We may have to wait until her show returns in September to find out.
The comment was startling, and almost unbelievable. Actress Julia Roberts of Pretty Woman fame - compared to "trailer trash"?!? That's what one voter thought upon seeing Roberts with bangs across her forehead, in a style update she's showing in the Broadway play Three Days of Rain. "She looks more like her brother Eric Roberts," the voter continued. Perhaps almost as startling, most voters in our one-week poll seemed to agree with this view.
Roberts's added bangs were shot down by 73 percent of Hair Fans (19-7) - and they produced one of the liveliest discussions our comments section has had in some time, about bangs in general. They "look like cr*p on every one," wrote one opponent . But others came to Roberts's side, saying the bangs make her look younger. "They bring out her eyes," one said. "She looks cute with them," added another. Yet another voter went more in-depth: "Bangs are only trashy if they're sprayed stiff and rise above and out in front of the forehead, not hung down to the eyebrows."
In this case, we're personally taking a middle ground. We don't mind stiff bangs which hold strongly under pressure - as tough hair can be beautiful, if prepared properly. We think the long waves help Roberts's all-around look, and give you something else to admire if the bangs don't thrill you. But those bangs appear to need some trimming; they seem too ready to plop in her eyes.
Sometimes women can pull tricks on you with their hair -- leading you to think they've made a big change, when they really haven't. ABC News correspondent Nancy Weiner did that for us on the 9 April World News Tonight. Her shoulder-length style which has made our Top Ten Tresses list appeared to be trimmed a few inches, to neck-length. We're guessing she somehow pulled the longer locks back, so they were hidden some way -- because no camera angle showed long hair at all, yet the usual length was back two days later on Good Morning America.
Was this a clever test by Weiner to see how a shorter style would work? If so, it had some support from Hair Fans in our one-week poll. But a 56-percent majority wish she'd keep the hair longer (10-8). One "short supporter" said her longer ends "flair out a bit much" - but also declared, "her hair's too flat either way." Flat?! We think it's really careful preparation, to make sure Super-Hair doesn't move on camera. (In the appearance at right, a couple of the short strands were slightly off-line close to the face.) Weiner's had one close call outdoors recently, but this is overall one very strong-holding style.
The big cut was expected for a long time - and Ann Curry's timing was perfect for NBC's Today. After growing her hair out for months, she trimmed it sharply for the charity "Locks of Love" on the last day of the February TV ratings month. (You see -- there are more Hair Fans out there than you might think!)
Curry's cut is now a bit above shoulder-length. But should it stay there? Our week-long poll found a 58-percent majority of Hair Fans want the long locks to return - the look which won her a Crown Award for Makeover of the Year. One voter even put a desired length on it: "about five or six inches below her shoulders." Only 29 percent want Curry to cut even more, while 13 percent believe this current length is right for her (18-9-4). We personally don't think so, and consider this look awkward on her.
Courtesy Cynthia for Congress, Washington Post/AP
"Is this a belated April Fool's joke?" one Hair Fan asked of our question on Rep. Cynthia Mckinney. No, it was simply a case ripped from the headlines. The Georgia lawmaker had a tense encounter with a U.S. Capitol police officer - a problem McKinney seemed to blame in part on racial profiling, and in part on the officer not recognizing her without her trademark cornrow hairstyle.
We didn't realize McKinney had loosened her look until this incident made the news. She called it on CNN "much ado about a hairdo." So we asked you which 'do does her better - and an 87-percent majority said the braids should come back (6-1). Few people left comments, perhaps concerned about possible civil rights action. But one asked if McKinney was the waitress on the old TV comedy What's Happening? No, she's not -- and this lawmaker is nowhere near as "phat."
Right photo courtesy Reporter Caps
The last time we asked Hair Fans about the styles of Linda Stouffer, it was only about seven months ago. The issue was grown-out bangs, and most voters liked that change. Perhaps that helped the CNN Headline News anchor won the 2005 Crown Award for "Best Blonde." But during the voting, Stouffer was adjusting her style again - and her hair now approaches shoulder-length.
We asked you about Stouffer's styles again, and this time the week-long poll was more divided. A 52-percent majority like her going longer (15-14). "I think it is great," one voter wrote of the change; "she is more attractive with it longer." But another argued, "Shorter was cuter." And someone argued for a length in between the two shown above. "She was cute and professional," the voter explained - and for many Hair Fans watching TV news, both qualities are important.
(By the way, did anyone capture Stouffer the afternoon a fire erupted on the CNN Headline News in March? We wonder how it held in a "crisis" situation.)
Courtesy Kaptured for You
Someone wrote us a couple of years ago about Kristina Abernathy's presence in the Hair Fan's Hall of Fame - not to praise it, but to laugh at it. The writer claimed the Weather Channel meteorologist's old look (which gained more than 90 percent "yes" votes for induction) was old-fashioned, and we'd been the victim of ballot box stuffing by a fan club. Well, it is the fan's hall, after all - and those fans actually are displeased by the way Abernathy wears her hair now.
A discussion developed in a previous vote about Abernathy moving away from bangs, to a bang-free slightly longer style. So we asked for an up-or-down vote on the style change - and 63 percent of Hair Fans put their thumbs down (17-10). The comments were all negative about the new look, and rather cutting as well. "I think she just got lazy and went with an easier style to maintain," one voter guessed. "From cute weather girl to plain Jane soccer mom," moaned another.
Related to that, more voters were for Abernathy's old bangs than against them. But we'd note the bang-free look has a much higher "risk factor" in terms of keeping the style out of her face. It certainly has us paying attention again.
Courtesy Ted's Turnovers; Reporter Caps
A Hair Fan recently sent us three candidates for our Hot List - only one of those women already had appeared there. Carol Costello was added in early 2002, shortly after she arrived at CNN. But we took another look at her style, which the Hair Fan called a perfect complement for her "most pleasing on-camera personality and demeanor" -- and found quite a difference. A soft short style had been lengthened four to six inches, to a bit below the throat.
Has Costello made an improvement? Most voters in our one-week survey say she has, as 65 percent (11-6) approve of the longer look. (Personally, we think the shorter style looks neater and nicer on her.) A discussion developed here over a matter we never considered. "She still needs to lose those rockin' bangs," one wrote. "Bangs are cute," another contended.
"Why was Jennifer Aniston presenting at the Oscars?" one Hair Fan asked after we posted candidates for the best styles at the 78th annual Academy Awards. For very good reason, we say. She did appear in a movie during 2005; in fact, she received a Crown Award nomination for it. Aniston made a lot more sense than Jenny McCarthy appearing at the Grammys, or Anna Nicole Smith at the American Music Awards. And most Hair Fans didn't seem to mind, as Aniston was their overwhelming choice for the top style on Oscar Sunday.
Aniston smartly tucked hair behind her ears on the red carpet, and her style held mightily in a swirling breeze. Once inside, the loose look won Hair Fans over and won her 55 percent of the vote. Her dominance was so strong that "Other" tied for second, at 14 percent. "What about Jessica Alba?? Her style was absolutely perfect!" declared one -- but it was perfect because of pins. "Salma Hayek," another suggested -- and her steamy loose sidepart came awfully close to making the ballot. But it slipped into her right eye on stage, missing the Super-Hair standard.
As for the names on our Oscar ballot, Nicole Kidman tied "The Others" at 14 percent. And red-carpet co-host Cynthia Garrett's long hair was a modest surprise, tying Hilary Swank's much-trimmed style from last year's awards at nine percent.
As a college softball pitcher, Meghan Howard's record at Butler University isn't that impressive - but is she ever a winner around here! She rose from obscurity to become Indianapolis City League champion, fought off someone in a Challenge Round, received a Crown Award nomination for Best Hair in Athletics - and now leads our annual "Elite Eight" vote of the Best Manes on Campus for 2005-06.
It was a tight battle among the top three contenders over ten days, but Howard's 38 percent prevailed over 25 percent for DePaul's Kelly Cunningham (the only one of the eight to contact Super-Hair, by the way). Megan Willis of Texas took 19 percent, while Gabrielle Colombo from tiny Bluefield College of Virginia had 13 percent and Ashley Kirchberg of Louisiana-Lafayette had support from six percent.
When Marion Brooks became the most popular item on her Chicago TV station's web site in February, her station reportedly was unwilling to explain why. But it probably knew why, and people in her old home of Atlanta certainly knew. Brooks had been called to testify in the federal corruption trial of former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell - and had to admit under oath she had an affair with him years ago.
We don't know if Brooks's hair impressed Campbell, but it impressed us when she was on Atlanta television -- and after she moved on to Chicago, she became the City League champion there. But our check on her during the trial revealed she's added a couple of inches to her old signature style. It's an addition Hair Fans adore, as it gained two-thirds support in our eight-day poll (16-8). One voter said the longer look "not only doesn't cause shadows on her face but opened her eyes...." It's that closeness to the eyes which amazed us, because the style held amazingly well there -- but would that make someone squint?
We faintly recall Jennifer Love Hewitt recording an album a few years ago. That was probably reason enough for her to appear as a presenter at the 2006 Grammy Awards - although we suspect her TV series on CBS helped. (When did Teri Hatcher record an album, after all?) Appearing on stage as a presenter allowed Hewitt to be in our contest for the best hairstyle of Grammy night. And Hair Fans say she topped all the others.
It was a close fight for The Ghost Whisperer, though, as she prevailed with only 39 percent of the votes. Mariah Carey had a near-miss, finishing tied for second at 28 percent -- as several detractors doubted her long locks were really hers. "Mariah is famous for hair extensions," one wrote; "you can't trust her for being genuine." But Hewitt's fans showed, to borrow from a radio network, positive and encouraging J-Love: "Her lovely dark brown hair looked great," one said - and her curious appearance on TV in black and white didn't seem to harm that a bit.
As for our other candidates: Jenna Elfman actually tied Carey with 28 percent, followed by Hatcher with six percent. And for the voter who asked where Kelly Clarkson was - we agree her hair looked good, but it fell in her eyes during one of her tearful acceptance speeches.
A hairstyle change can be sudden and extreme, or it can be slow and subtle - in fact, almost so microscopic that you might not realize it for awhile. ABC News correspondent Barbara Pinto is taking the slow approach, as a short style from 2004 (left) has quietly turned into a shoulder-length look.
Does Pinto know "beans" about improving her style? Our eight-day poll found 63 percent of you think so (10-6). One voter declared, "With shorter hair, she looks like Ray Romano." OK, then -- we'd say in addition that Pinto's style has certainly become more interesting to watch. The short style was cut so it couldn't fall -- but that's not true anymore.
They dug up George Hamilton, former football star Jerry Rice, and even the attitude-overloaded "Master P." But the second season of Dancing With the Stars apparently got one right when they changed co-hosts. The new partner for Tom Bergeron is Samantha Harris -- and her long well-controlled waves seems to have Hair Fans wishing they could see her spinning and turning on the floor.
We asked who had the best style on this hit dancing show, and Harris waltzed to the title. After eight days, she had a 60 percent majority -- far ahead of a longtime favorite of Super-Hair visitors: 24 percent for Lisa Rinna, whose short style was panned by one voter as a "frosted dustmop."
Professional dancer Cheryl Burke, who's teamed with Drew Lachey, was third with eight percent. She has our attention, as we see the second coming of Ultimate 50 member Paula Cinko in her short hard-working cut. Judge Carrie-Anne Inaba (whom we put on the Hot List in season one) followed with four percent. There was also a write-in vote (four percent) for high-scoring contestant Stacey Kiebler, who seems ready to shed her "WWE Diva" image. We didn't put her on our list because she tends to wear pinned styles on the dance floor.
Imagine what Eva Longoria must face when she appears at awards shows. Her dress receives the usual red carpet scrutiny from the tabloids. But because she's under contract to L'oreal, Longoria's hair is under close attention as well. She's under a different sort of "Hair Pressure," as her locks have to be at their best. Apparently she passed the test at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards, because Hair Fans declared Longoria's look the best of the show.
Our one-week poll opened during the last half-hour of the live telecast, and it was a competitive contest. Longoria's long locks wound up with 33 percent of your votes, narrowly beating the romantic waves of Scarlett Johansson with 28 percent. A tempting short sidepart by Jessica Alba didn't appear on stage long, but they impressed voters enough to gain 22-percent support. Then followed Commander in Chief Geena Davis with 11 percent and French veteran Catherine Deneuve with six percent.
No one left any comments in this poll - so we'll raise a question which was on our mind when Longoria took the stage with the cast of Desperate Housewives: was she wearing extensions? This style looked a good three inches longer than it usually does on her series.
The revelation left us shocked -- simply SHOCKED! Tyra Banks said she retired from Victoria's Secret fashion shows in part due to a feud with fellow model Naomi Campbell. Banks invited Campbell onto her TV talk show 3 January to talk about the 14 years of tension - and cleared the studio of any audience to do it. Thankfully (well, some of you may dispute that), it did not turn into a scene from Jerry Springer's talk show. But what if it had? Which supermodel has "more super" hair, which would prevail in a "catwalk catfight?"
Campbell is an Ultimate 50 member, but our 11-day poll found most voters backing Banks. She won 64 percent of the vote (18-10). But one voter blunt-cut-ly wanted to vote for neither: "Nice butt-cut, Tyra. No style, Naomi - just straight and flat." (Let's see if you say that when Campbell has a phone in her hand, ready to throw!)
Right photo courtesy New York Daily News
New York newspapers called him a "metrosexual." Spurned Boston baseball fans may have called him Johnny Demon. Certainly outfielder Johnny Damon looked different on December 22, 2005 - and not only because he put on Yankee pinstripes after signing a huge contract. One tabloid reported Damon actually visited Salon Ishi in Manhattan, and had his long hair and beard chopped by professional stylists.
Damon's Boston look earned him a place in the Men's Top Five section of our Top Ten Tresses list, after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series -- but our ten-day year-end poll showed 65 percent of you were ready for a trim (11-6). One voter said the "caveman" look (as someone in sports media called it) looked too much like a character in Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar. But another said a clean-cut Damon "looks gay." (But he is married -- his wife was at the news conference.)
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