Cutting-Edge Hair News, 2009

Courtesy Celebrity Galleries, Cosmopolitan

Actress Amanda Bynes has been underrated over the years, when it comes to having great hair. Perhaps it's because she appears in comic roles such as the movie Sydney White and the TV series What I Like About You. But she uses a number of subtle yet attractive tricks to keep her styles in position. Bynes's cover photo in the January 2010 Cosmopolitan shows a mix of waves and spray -- but a Hair Fan noticed something else, which probably has nothing to do with hold: Bynes turning her hair bright blonde, after years of darker shades.

We found pictures with Bynes's hair lighter before, but should she keep these blonde locks? Our one-week poll found 74 percent of voters saying no (20-7) - and a couple of them writing, "Yuck!" One expressed hope it's a "blonde phrase" that will end quickly. Perhaps like that trip to a psychic, which is also in the Cosmopolitan cover story.


We didn't realize it at first, but Salma Hayek might just have changed her hair to mark the tenth anniversary of Super-Hair. OK, that's admittedly a longshot -- but Hayek was the first woman we posted in our Ultimate 50 in January 2000. We praised her control with long hair in tense movie moments. But in December 2009, Hayek appeared in Europe with a collarbone-length look that doesn't even touch the shoulders.

Has Hayek trimmed her signature look too much? We thought sure Hair Fans would say yes -- but our one-week poll surprisingly found 85 percent of voters support the shorter style (17-3). "Shorter because she finally loses the butt-cut!" one exclaimed. But another voter seemed flabbergasted by the polling trend: "Who in the world would vote shorter by looking at the pictures!!" Hayek's hair now seems virtually impossible to keep out of her eyes, through tricks such as curl and the shoulders. And we'll admit it: if Hayek had this current look ten years ago, Ultimate #50 probably would have been someone else.


The fall of 2009 may go down in "hair-story" as a time when top singing stars made major cuts. Carrie Underwood trimmed her long locks to a shoulder-length bob, to the praise of our voters (see below). And a Hair Fan pointed us to a similar cut by Underwood's arch-rival in style, Martina McBride. Only weeks after long hair was displayed at the Country Music Association Awards, she appeared in a YouTube concert tour video from Milwaukee with a shoulder-length sidepart and at least one layer of bangs.

McBride has won Crown Awards with short hair and long - so what about this "mane in the middle?" Our one-week poll found it's a flop with Hair Fans, as three-fourths oppose the change (18-6). One critic titled a comment NASTY and asked, "What was she thinking?" We'll simply take a guess here - but perhaps Martina wanted a style that's easier to maintain. Or perhaps she's setting Hair Fans up for performances with added extensions?!


Courtesy New York Daily News

We knew Tiger Woods was the greatest golfer of our time. But sadly, events in late 2009 revealed more than we really wanted to know - that Woods is a married father with a major flaw: an adulterous attraction to other women. We didn't know exactly how many, when we posted a poll relating to the loves (real and alleged) in Woods's life. But we took the first few names to surface and combined them with Woods's wife to ask if the king of "majors" is a major Hair Fan.

You might say our "Woods Birdies Edition" played as a par 5, and came down to the final swing. New York event planner Rachel Uchitel and her long flowing locks prevailed, with 40 percent of voters believing she would win a Super-Hair War. The woman who told OK! Magazine she has "very good qualities" seems to have high-quality hair, although the paparazzi trail has proven it can cave in to cover her eyes.

Las Vegas waitress Jamie Jungers came on strongly down the stretch, but settled for second with 36 percent. The real Mrs. Woods was third, as Elin Nordegren received 16 percent. Jaimee Grubbs and Kalika Moquin tied for fourth at four percent. All in all, we fear Woods may have caved in to the temptation of attractive hair -- and while one voter considered this our "funniest poll ever," there's a serious lesson here for married Hair Fans to consider.


We didn't realize until recently that country singer Kellie Pickler has something that Super-Hair champions Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride apparently do not - a hair product endorsement deal. It is not a contract for hair coloring, but skeptical Hair Fans might think so. After rising to stardom as a "dumb blonde," Pickler pulled a surprise at the Country Music Association Awards in November by turning her hair red -- and comments on our message board suggested she was part of a coloring trend.

To borrow from her former Twitter account name, which color should be "The Real Pickler?" This week-long question went right down to the wire, but the final vote fell for Pickler bringing back the blondeness. It received 44 percent of the votes, to 40 percent for redhead - and a possibly cynical 16 percent who think she should go brunette (11-10-4). "Neither blonde or redhead looks natural on her," one voter wrote. To be honest, we wish Pickler had worn her hair unpinned during the awards show so we could get a better look.


Can you spot what's different about Carrie Underwood's hair in this photo, as opposed to the one below from the Country Music Association Awards? We thought she simply changed the waviness a bit for the American Music Awards -- but online reports revealed it was more than that. Stylist Melissa Schleicher apparently cut Underwood's medium-long hair to a bob (although our picture indicates it's still on the long side).

We don't have to ask Hair Fans for their opinion about this change, because our week of voting for the top style at the AMA's made it obvious. Underwood ran away from the pack, winning 70 percent of the votes. (Yes, Martina McBride fans, we know - your favorite style wasn't there.) What we considered waviness was declared "limp" by one voter -- but that person added: "Limp for her is full bodied for most."

Demi Lovato, who tied for our AMA prize in 2008, settled for second place with 17 percent and a compliment for the "sleekest" style. Our other three contenders all shared four percent of the vote: Paula Abdul, Taylor Swift and Kristen Bell. Bell's "butt cut" led one voter to complain about laziness, but another to praise her for "layers of perfection."


The Hair Fan admittedly was frustrated - and that put it mildly. The potential Class of 2009 for the Hair Fan's Hall of Fame, this person wrote, was "an amazing array of celebs.... I thought all of them were worthy." The writer was especially fond of Brooke Shields (above) - yet she and four others all fell short of the two-thirds majority vote needed for induction. "Maria Menounos, but no Brooke Shields?" continued the rant. "That alone showed how many of your voters do not have the knowledge that hall of fame voters should have."

But then the criticism turned a bit constructive. "The baseball hall of fame limits its voters to veteran qualified sports writers.... If yours is truly a hall of fame, you should limit it to either your selections (if you truly know what you're talking about) or pick people that are older and have been paying attention." That led to a six-day question on our home page: Should a "Veterans Committee" section be added to the Hall, which would name women in addition to the general nominees from the public?

The answer from Hair Fans was yes by a 14-3 margin (82%) - which to be honest was larger than we expected. So now comes the next question: how should the Veterans Committee be selected and operate? Offer your ideas on our message board, Let Your Hair Down. There's plenty of time to work out the details, before the 2010 process begins.


The best rivalry on our web site these days clearly is in the world of country music. Our vote for the Best Hair at the 2009 Country Music Association Awards made that clear -- as it quickly turned into a two-woman race. Martina McBride had caught and passed Carrie Underwood at the 2008 CMA's, as well as the "spring race" in April at the Academy of Country Music. But Underwood came back strongly at these CMA's, to take her first title since the 2007 ACM's.

The six-day survey ended with Underwood at 41 percent and McBride at 34 percent. One voter praised them both as "clearly the best of the best." But Underwood's advantage may have been in degree of difficulty - adjusting her looks as co-host throughout the evening, and somehow keeping the style above out of her eyes through a lot of movement singing Cowboy Casanova. "Carrie's hair looks the healthiest, thickest, softest and shiniest," one supporter wrote.

Third place in our poll went to Miranda Lambert -- with 21 percent support, a debate among voters about whether she needs bangs, and applause from us for simply qualifying for the ballot at all. Many times she's made wild gyrations at the end of songs to throw hair in her face; this time Lambert helped herself by playing guitar.


Marisol Castro may not be as dashing as Sam Champion. (Really now -- have you ever heard of a "dashing" woman?) But we think she brings charm to the weekend weather forecasts on Good Morning America. And when she started appearing on ABC, she displayed medium-long hair which flirted frequently with falling in her face. Castro found a way around that, which many women have done: adding bangs across the forehead. But does that addition make Castro look better on the air?

Our eight-day poll concluded the bangs were a bust, as 84 percent of Hair Fans opposed them (21-4). "Normally I like bangs," wrote one voter, "but in that pic they look oily and limp." We can understand that. And sadly, Castro was not outside at that moment -- not even illustrating an approaching storm in the Northeast.


Actress Paget Brewster was the star of at least one TV comedy, years before she became part of the investigative team on Criminal Minds. But she kept one key element when she made the switch to drama - bangs which strongly stayed put on her forehead. They earned Brewster a 2008 Crown Award nomination. But she might not be eligible in 2009, because in the current season the bangs appear to be grown out.

Will this change add Hair Fans to the "Paget-Nation?" Apparently not, if our eight-day poll is any indication - as 71 percent say the bangs are better (17-7). Our comments on this change reflected an interesting divide. "Even though her bangs were a bit limp, she looked cute and younger with them," one wrote. But another said: "Very alluring and youthful without bangs.... With the bangs she is too youthful, like a three-year-old." (We also think the picture at right makes Brewster look a lot like Ultimate 50 member Bella Shaw, but that's another issue.)


When Nancy Weiner arrived at ABC News, she impressed us right away. Yes, she does come across as a good journalist. But her way with medium-long hair caught our eye as well -- shapely and strong, with tough hold when it mattered. Weiner was good enough to make the Top Ten Tresses list Yet when she married and moved to CBS News, the renamed Nancy Cordes somehow seemed to lose some of that style strength. And in recent weeks, she's trimmed her hair to what looks like a blunt cut which barely touches her shoulders.

Did Cordes's cut win back your support? Our eight-day poll found Hair Fans disappointed, as 76 percent want a longer look (16-5). "The shorter look only elongates the face even more, which is not a good thing for her," one voter explained. On top of that, we fear this style won't have much to fight Capitol Hill breezes anymore -- short of using her ears for protection, as our right photo shows.


She came from Seattle, and scored an improbable conquest. Rebecca Stevenson won the 2004 Crown Award for Science and Meteorology (it's since changed names) -- in the process defeating an eventual Hair Fan's Hall of Fame member and a long-time Top Ten Tresses member. Stevenson succeeded with a short style that some voters declared had "wings." But five years later, the ends are flatter and Stevenson's look is longer - touching the shoulders in pictures posted by her TV station.

Has Stevenson made a winning adjustment? Our one-week vote was close from start to finish, and ended with 54 percent of Hair Fans saying no (15-13). One supporter of a longer look commented it's a "sleeker, smoother style." But we'd respond Stevenson's style seems much riskier now. Even though there's still some curling back, her hair appears looser - and some pictures we saw suggest it may have fallen in her eyes on camera.


Lauren Conrad gained the nickname "L.C." during her years on MTV's The Hills - and those initials often could stand for "luxurious cuts." A little added wave could turn her eye-catching blonde hair into a boyfriend-reaching thick mane. But Harper's Bazaar decided to have some fun with that mane, and persuaded Conrad to put on a brunette wig for an experiment in southern California (after she admittedly thought about dyeing her own hair, to gain some privacy).

Conrad didn't deceive that many fans and photographers - but it raised a question for us: should she switch to a darker look all the time? A poll extended to two weeks by a vacation found 77 percent of Hair Fans support Conrad going brunette (24-7). One member of the majority called it a "more natural color" - but another voter contended the blonde color "really works for her and getting noticed." For us, the issue is more about cut than color. But we think a lighter shade displays Conrad's great natural hair much better.


She plays an FBI agent on a TV drama called Fringe -- but Anna Torv doesn't show any "fringe science" in her hairstyle. You won't find bangs here. It's a medium-long straight look -- and she apparently handles it well enough to impress plenty of Hair Fans. Torv took top honors in our poll for the best hairstyle at the 2009 Primetime Emmy Awards.

To be honest, the Emmy ballot was difficult to fill because plenty of women showed up with pinned and pulled-back styles. We considered Torv one of the weaker candidates, yet she wound up with 41 percent of the vote. Her success puzzled one voter as well, who called her hair "the limpest and most boring." Yet Torv topped Alyson Hannigan of How I Met Your Mother with 29 percent, award winner Shohren Aghdashloo with 24 percent (praised by a voter for thickness) and last-minute presenter Dana Delany with six percent. Ultimate 50 member Julia Louis-Dreyfus received no votes at all.

Would the outcome be different if this woman had been posted? Kaley Cuoco of The Big Bang Theory wowed us with this wavy long blonde look. Yet when she leaned on the shoulder of a co-star while presenting an award, her hair appeared to drop in her eyes. She was disqualified -- and we suspect many Hair Fans were dismayed.


Left photo courtesy Entertainment Weekly

Actress Anna Faris had our attention long before she posed for Playboy magazine. In fact, we gave her a brief mention on our Top Ten Tresses in 2004 (left) based on the carefully-cut shoulder-length style she showed in Scary Movie parodies. But Faris has grown her blonde locks longer since then, as they extended to the bust line for her recent wedding.

Given a choice of styles, you might think Hair Fans would prefer blonde hair longer. But our nine-day survey was very different, as Faris's old look gained a dominating 83 percent of the vote (20-4). One voter explained the "shorter cut had more style and more realistic color. She didn't look like a Baby Spice wannabe." We'd also note the shorter cut has a bit of waviness to it, to assist her bangs in overall hair control.


Heather Mills was relatively unknown outside Britain (and perhaps even in Britain) until she became the bride of Sir Paul McCartney. Now she's known as an activist, a U.S. Dancing With the Stars contestant -- and sadly, as the former bride of McCartney. Mills showed often-attractive medium-long hair during her marriage. But a TMZ videographer caught her recently with a much shorter cut - seemingly along the lines of Kate Gosselin, or Victoria Beckham before that.

Did Mills make the right move with this change? Our nine-day poll found Hair Fans singing the old McCartney tune "Take It Away" - with 73 percent preferring the longer look (16-6). No one left a comment explaining why; in fact, the only writer asked "who cares" about Mills. (Ouch.) But we wonder if a tighter short cut will keep Mills's hair out of her eyes; it fell frequently in the past from British breezes.


We were honored to receive this picture from Fox News anchor Julie Banderas in the days before her 30 August 09 wedding. A stylist suggested she wear her hair this way, as she walked down the aisle. An e-mail from Banderas offered details:

"I was originally going to wear it half up but when I met Michael Silva who is a phenomenal hair stylist he advised me wearing it all down is more modern, and youthful. He does Kim, Khloe and Courtney Kardashian's hair. My sister produces their show and is friends with Khloe who told her they love him.. And now so do I!

"So here's how he styled it. With a small barrel curling iron he sprayed each individual piece first and curled entire head into tight curls. Then brushed it all out with a Mason Pearson bristle brush.. Put some tease in it and here's the result. On actual wedding day he will put a couple clip in hair pieces to make it fuller. I've been growing my hair out for about a year for this!

"What do you guys think?? Should I wear it down or half up?? Let's conduct a poll! Ha ha"

Hair Fans may not have been laughing with Banderas, but they certainly were smiling. Of course we did a poll, our first on how to wear hair at a wedding - and after eight days, 85 percent of voters recommended this look as opposed to going half-up (29-5). "Down so it flows and swings and sways on the dance floor, and her new husband can run his fingers through it," one supporter wrote dreamily.

Banderas followed everyone's advice - as here's how she looked on her wedding day. Other Twitpic photos from her big day are posted at our Let Your Hair Down message board. She wrote on Twitter it was the "happiest day of my life" -- and we imagine if male Hair Fans saw this look walking down the aisle, they'd say the same thing.


If you were going into battle, would you want to go with long or short hair? We could go to the Biblical story of Samson - but we're thinking of the top international correspondent at CBS News. Lara Logan has reported from front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, with well-controlled hair stretching far past the shoulders. So when we saw here on the evening news with hair trimmed to around shoulder-length, we wondered if Logan had made an improvement.

You can't spell Logan without L-O-N-G, you know -- but our eight-day poll showed Hair Fans prefer the shorter look by a 64-percent margin (16-9). The only comment left during the poll didn't see much difference in the change. "Still limp and boring," a voter remarked. Yet Logan's hair came very close to unseating Amanda Coetzer as South Africa's top style, during the 2009 AAA Cup preliminaries.


Evening and morning. Long and short. Weather and news. The women who topped our 2009 "rank the Top Ten" vote for Top Ten Tresses are a study in contrasts. But we think Alexandra Steele (above) and Maggie Rodriguez have something in common - feathery delicate-looking styles which are extremely reluctant to give ground when the pressure is on.

We gave Hair Fans two extra days for voting this year - and after nine days, two women stood out in the fight for #1 in the world. Steele emerged from a late tie to take first place, at 31 percent of the vote. It's her second time at the top, after tying for #1 two years ago.

Rodriguez's short cut was a close second, at 25 percent. Then came a three-way tie at 13 percent among Denise Ellison, Toni Marsh and Charity Shea. The woman we had at the top was Maria Elvira Salazar - but the Miami talk show host slumped to sixth, at six percent. And four members of the ten had no votes, putting their future on the list in serious risk.


We normally don't notify the women involved in our polls that they're on this web site. Our policy is to inform all sides or none at all, and often we're unable to contact one side. That can open the door for style changes to occur in the middle of a competition - and a North Carolina Hair Fan informed us that happened with Winston-Salem news anchor Kimberly Van Scoy. The Triad City League champion apparently changed her cut during the final rounds, trimming the ends of her hair so they're off the shoulders.

This relatively small change created a very different look -- but it Van Scoy's highly-regarded "immovable helmet" of hair any better? Our one-week poll admittedly surprised us, as 56 percent of voters prefer the shorter cut (14-11). "Shorter is more up-to-date and less 50's housewife," one comment explained. "She no longer looks like Samantha from Bewitched [Elizabeth Montgomery] or Mary Tyler Moore from the early 70's," added another. But one opponent moaned Van Scoy "now has that typical Female News Reporter style. She should have left well enough alone." That critic will be relieved to know the most recent videos we saw at Van Scoy's station indicated the short trim has grown back out -- and a look we consider solid-holding yet soft-looking may be back.


With the departure of ER, Grey's Anatomy becomes the undisputed champion of Thursday night medical drama in the U.S. But even before that happened, a separate spinoff show was created for Kate Walsh. She's been in Private Practice for two seasons - but season two was quite different from season one. Walsh unveiled a big cut in her hair at the 2008 Emmy Awards (right), and seemed to keep it all season long.

We wondered for awhile if Walsh made the right style move. Our one-week poll found 59 percent of Hair Fans don't think so (16-11), with one comment longing for Walsh's former "lovely long red waves." Another expressed condolences for the sudden collapse of Walsh's real-life marriage after less than two years. Truth be told, we're saddened more about the divorce than the haircut - but we hope both somehow can be restored.


Does the woman above look like an inventor to you? The Wikipedia listing for Mimi Umidon calls her one. But she comes across in infomercials as a host, merely helping other inventors show off their miraculous products. You may have seen her inside a house, making all sorts of dishes with the Magic Bullet - or at the Mall of America, with a man selling WalkFit products. But Umidon's hair is quite different in the two programs, so we wondered which look Hair Fans would prefer.

Our one-week poll ended with the Magic Bullet outrunning WalkFit -- which means the shorter flared cut with bangs was preferred over the shoulder-length style by 83 percent of voters (15-3). While no one left any comments, we can see arguments on both sides of this question. Umidon's longer look doubtless requires spraying or heat-styling; the hold is hard, but the style could be easier to bring down. The short style seems to require little effort, but it's one Hair Fans might feel more challenged to try to bring down -- a natural look, cut so it appears almost impossible to thoroughly muss.


Courtesy TV Heads

If you've admired the hair of Weather Channel meteorologist for years as we have, this picture may have been shocking. In fact, you might have wondered if she was shocked -- by lightning. No layers? No feathers? A stylist at NBC's Today Show apparently tried this high-teasing look one morning. There's much less risk of Steele's stupendous hair collapsing in her eyes -- but we wondered if this really is a better look for her.

Our one-week poll found Hair Fans accepting the tease by a large 71-percent margin (12-5). "It looks better," one voter commented, "but would like to see the length taken up to her shoulders. She would look so much better." (We personally have serious doubts about that.) Another person admitted not being thrilled with this change, but added: "It's better than her 'That 70s Hair.'" Now now -- the soft layers have secured Steele in the Top Ten Tresses list for years, and even won her a Crown Award.


The Daily Buzz doesn't get the, uh, buzz of other U.S. morning programs. Perhaps that's because it doesn't attract big-name politicians or entertainers, or simply doesn't have as many viewers. But it does have news updates, offered by Kia Malone -- and in June, she made a sharp change in her hairstyle. Locks which dropped softly to her shoulders abruptly stopped around her chin.

Did Kia (and her stylist) go into overdrive with this adjustment? Our one-week poll admittedly surprised us, as 58 percent of you liked Malone's change (11-8). No one left a comment explaining why, so we won't presume to guess. But our personal view is that the new look seems abrupt and forced -- not to mention more likely to drop in Malone's eyes.


We didn't know who Cheryl Cole was until we found her in an online gallery of sports stars and their celebrity lovers. Cole was linked to a British soccer player -- but then we discovered she was also part of a pop group called Girls Aloud, and was actually praised by Simon Cowell for her work as a judge of singers on The X Factor. Of course, Cole's eye-catching thick hair is our "X Factor." But she's switched her look in the last year or two between forehead-filling bangs and overall length.

We asked which style you like better on Cole - and after a week of voting, the bangs prevailed by a narrow 54 percent margin (13-11). The only voter to leave a comment (at least in English) wishes Cole would combine the looks: "If she had kept the waves on the length AND added bangs, she'd look better." Cole also might not have to reach defensively for her hair, as she seems to do in the right photo.


Toni Marsh has become the standard for Super-Hair in New Zealand -- suggested for our Hot List by a Hair Fan who saw her present the evening weather on the national channel TV-3. Her bangs are sturdy and tough to dislodge. But perhaps turning 40 persuaded Marsh it was time to trim her medium-long hair a bit. After she narrowly missed the AAA Cup playoffs (close enough to crack our Top Ten Tresses list), we were surprised to find Marsh with a slightly flared cut trimmed to her shoulders.

Did Marsh make a good change? Our one-week poll found 68 percent of Hair Fans don't think so (15-7). One voter reluctantly chose the shorter look based on "more body and softness" - but admittedly had a problem with Marsh's hair seemingly appearing more blonde. (Don't blame that on summer sunshine; the right picture was shot as New Zealand had a Southern Hemisphere June snowfall.) We think Marsh's cut reflects a safer approach to neatness. But the hair is still long enough to fall in her eyes, so it's no wonder she's using her ears for protection.


Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow may have the prime-time publicity. But for some Hair Fans, the real star of MSNBC is daytime news anchor Alex Witt. They're entranced by her thick long blonde hair - but one viewer noted during June it's not quite as long as it used to be. It's been trimmed to a couple of inches below the shoulders, after stretching to near the bust line. So is this trim a bust? Or was Witt wise with whacking a little?

Our one-week poll found a lot of interest in Witt's hair, and 76 percent of voters in favor of the new look (25-8). Several like the change because the ends are "softer and less ragged.... uniform and neater." But one voter declared the longer style "more sultry and headturning." (We also think the left picture shows hair that's so vulnerable, we'd want to reach toward her right eye and try to end Witt's perfect record.) And another one issued a passionate plea to Witt: "Do not cut it any shorter!"


Courtesy People, Salt Lake Tribune

Elizabeth Smart probably never dreamed of becoming a U.S. national celebrity - but events beyond her control made her one. Her kidnapping, hostage-taking and rescue have become the stuff of books and movies. Smart matured to become a magazine "cover girl" (quite different from many her age), and a college-age speaker against crime. When we saw her in People in the summer of 2008 and realized she attended Brigham Young University, we decided she deserved a place on our Best Manes on Campus list. But when we finally posted her months later, Smart surprised us by displaying a big trim in her long blonde hair at an event in Utah.

Perhaps Smart made a "grown-up" change by cutting back to a bob, but is it a good change? Our one-week poll found three-fourths of Hair Fans like it (15-5) - with one admitting: "This is the first time I have ever voted for a short style, but on her it looks great!" Another supporter suggested Smart's long hair might be on the "baby-fine" side, explaining "shorter adds volume." But one commenter called the change "forgettable and plain jane," calling the longer look "classic beauty." Our pictures suggest the longer style actually might be easier to control, by using the ears and possibly some crimping.


Courtesy Reporter Caps

Rebecca Jarvis is a would-be "apprentice" who made good. Her resume included financial writing, before placing second on The Apprentice (a version with real people, not the celebrities who tend to dominate now). Then she found work reporting on the markets at CNBC, and began attracting Hair Fans with her styles. Jarvis tends to keep her hair around shoulder-length -- but over the months she's trimmed the look shorter and let it grow longer. So we wondered: do you prefer Jarvis in an "up" or "down" market?

Our six-day poll left little doubt about the trend -- as 84 percent of you want Jarvis to keep the ends down and long (16-3). No one left a comment, but we found ourselves in the minority here. The shorter look seems thicker, firmer and tougher to muss; her longer styles seem downright weak at times (although she uses spray for hold in our picture). But either way, Jarvis is undefeated as far as we know - and part of a very competitive network in terms of good cuts.


Courtesy ABC/"The View"

The last time we posted pictures of reality TV star Kim Kardashian, the question involved whether she should have added bangs - and most of you said no. Kardashian may have listened, because a spring appearance on The View showed no real sign of them. But then came a surprise, as a picture appeared of Kardashian with much lighter hair. We considered it caramel-brown, but the hosts called it downright blonde. Kardashian explained a photographer had her try on a blonde wig.

But of course, we couldn't resist asking: should Kardashian give this color change a long-term try? This eight-day poll was even more lopsided in favor of the status quo - as 86 percent want her to remain brunette (18-3). One Hair Fan claimed the natural color "goes with her eyes better." Another seemed to anticipate our next Kardashian question - "as long as it stays very long, too." We can't imagine her going shorter. But then, we couldn't quite imagine her with bangs.


We'll confess it: we've admired the hair of Leeza Gibbons for decades, all the way back to her Entertainment Tonight days. She displays a great deal of thickness, and added wave or curl seems to make her styles indestructibly strong. Current infomercials for SheerCover show Gibbons's hair at its best, and even longer than the look which won her a Crown Award in 2001. But even in the same infomercial (as well as in recent talk show appearances), she shows a short chin-length cut - so we wanted to know which length you think is better for her.

Our one-week poll was close, but ended with 55 percent of voters preferring Gibbons with long hair (11-9). One voter wrote he/she likes "bangs in both cuts, but the shorter one looks like longer locks were hacked off." We agree with the assessment that the short cut is "choppy." And we hope to see Gibbons a lot more than in infomercials, with her always-inviting yet solid hair.


Right photo courtesy Reporter Caps

A man we know marvels at the sight of CNN Washington correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. "She's pretty," he's told us several times. We can agree with that -- and we think a well-placed hairstyle helps, with curl seemingly bouncing off her shoulders. But recently Malveaux trimmed that look a bit. The cut is only an inch or two, but it makes "long hair" appear short with strands stopping above the shoulders at the neck. On top of that, bangs clearly have been added to the cut.

Has Malveaux messed things up, or made a nice change? Our one-week poll found 62 percent of Hair Fans preferring the shorter style (13-8). No one left a comment explaining why - but we'd note the new look probably is easier to prepare and keep out of her face. Much depends on the strength and the length of those bangs. Our photo leaves us thinking they're strong for holding - but have some drama about whether they're long enough to hit Malveaux's eyes.


How many of you were regulars here when Joan Rivers made an appearance in Super-Hair Wars? It was the U.S. summer of 2001, and the comedienne actually picked up four votes against eventual regular-season champion Carolyn Hughes. The Rivers family then became red-carpet regulars, interviewing celebrities at awards shows. But when daughter Melissa was voted off NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, her "exit interviews" revealed a surprise -- as forehead-filling bangs were quite a change from the basic long look of recent years.

We asked if you think Rivers has changed for the better - and a one-week survey found 71 percent think so (20-8). While the bangs can keep hair from falling in Rivers's face, it's the face itself which spurred comments from voters. "As much as she can do to cover her doll-like, plastic, eerily smooth face, the better," one declared. But another said the old approach makes Rivers look "actually human.... not like a toy baby doll with the bangs and her plastic looking face." (It's almost as if playing with bangs can be a bad thing....?!)


Quick, without looking below - can you name the winner of the 2009 Miss USA pageant? For that matter, can you pick the winner from these two pictures? The contestants from California and North Carolina were neck-and-neck in judges' points, going to the final "poise question" round. That round may wind up changing the pageant for years to come, as some argue the endorsement of heterosexual marriage by Miss California cost her the crown. But she gained all the media attention in the days after the pageant, while the new Miss USA received hardly any.

In light of the controversy, we decided to stage our own online rematch between the top two -- only without the ethical/moral questions. If we put these women in a Super-Hair War, who would prevail? Our week of voting ended with the finalists still a hair's-breadth apart - but Miss North Carolina USA Kristen Dalton (shown at left) prevailed over Miss California USA Carrie Prejean by a narrow 53-percent margin (10-9). We figured this comparison would give voters a tough choice, and one comment bore that out. "So basically you're asking if we prefer long, thick, platinum blonde hair with some waves parted on the right or the left." Hmmmm - is it only coincidence that Prejean's part is on her right side?


Courtesy CBS News

If anyone ever fit the title "overnight sensation," Susan Boyle does. The Welsh woman's singing debut on Britain's Got Talent spread quickly across the Internet, and her story is even being used to teach religious lessons. But it led to a question for the program's producers: should they give a woman some describe as "dowdy" a makeover to look, well, more like what people think a star should be?

As of this writing, the answer from the producers is no. But the view from Hair Fans is clearly yes - as in a rare unanimous opinion, they called for Boyle to receive a hair makeover (17-0). One voter even declared the best answer would be "to decapitate her." That voter had better remain anonymous -- in part because such a move probably would sever Boyle's vocal cords.


Courtesy TV Heads

It's a change so sudden that as of this writing, the web site of her employer hasn't updated her picture yet. CBS News reporter Bianca Solorzano had a "sol"-drenched blonde look on the air for years. But then she appeared on an early-morning newscast with hair as dark as the 3:00 a.m. sky. We don't try to guess which color is really hers -- but instead we asked which one looks better.

The one-week poll found Hair Fans divided, but preferring the blonde Bianca by a 56-percent margin (10-8). "What a shocking change for the worse!" wrote one stunned member of the majority; "much better as a blonde." That color does indeed make Solorzano stand out from a crowd -- and since we have no record of her style collapsing in her eyes, we want Super-Hair to stand out and be noticed.


Is it a contest for the best hairstyle - or a race between fan clubs? Sometimes we wonder, especially when it comes to country music awards shows. A track meet clearly developed after the Academy of Country Music Awards went off the air. And for the second show in a row (going back to the CMA's last November), Martina McBride emerged with the gold medal style.

"I think it was the best that I have ever seen it," wrote someone who undoubtedly was among the 44 percent who voted for McBride in our week-long poll. "The length of her hair is perfect...." and unlike last year, no one accused her of wearing extensions. (But did you notice McBride didn't sing, to risk marring that perfection a bit?) Best New Artist Julianne Hough impressed us with flexing hold, and impressed enough voters to capture second place with 26 percent. "If you can find a photo of sleeker, more full bodied hair than Julianne's at the show, you didn't post it!" a supporter wrote.

During our first real-time Twitter-cast while the ACM's were underway, we wrote Carrie Underwood was "in trouble." While she won two big awards during the show, she fell to third place in our vote at 22 percent. But we were surprised that teen talent Taylor Swift didn't do better, scoring only four percent to tie an unnamed "other." Swift actually was criticized by one viewer for crimping her hair - which doesn't seem fair, because it appears curled to us all the time.


If you want to have the best hair on the U.S. version of Dancing With the Stars, the limbo bar (wait, they don't do that dance) is set very high. Co-host Samantha Harris is a winner of back-to-back Crown Awards. But many of the dancers try hard to impress, and so does Carrie-Anne Inaba at the judges' table. Seemingly not content to have flexibility in long styles, Inaba has added thick bangs across the forehead for the 2009 spring season -- and very long ones at that, as "maxi" bangs seem more in vogue than Christina Aguilera's "micro."

Has Inaba improved her look with this change? Our one-week poll found Hair Fans ready to vote her off the dance floor, as 74 percent oppose the bangs (14-5). The voters who left comments think Inaba needs a trim as soon as possible. "Normally, I like bangs," one explained, "but hers hang in her eyes, which is not good." Another actually quoted from TV host Tom Bergeron, who reportedly asked Inaba jokingly if she could see the dancers. We think she can, yet we agree the bangs are dangerously long. The hold probably is there, and we certainly would ask her to join us in a salsa spin to test it.


It's a little tempting to compare Christina Aguilera's hair with the world investment climate. The look on the left is from around 2007 -- high-risk in terms of hold, depending on flirtatious make-or-break curls. The look on the right is from the American Music Awards of November 2008, as the stock markets dropped. Aguilera changed to an ultra-conservative style around the face, with what some described as "micro-bangs" well off the eyebrows. (To her credit, she kept some curls for fun on either side.)

We'll leave it to financial experts like Julia Boorstin to decide whether these changes are simply coincidence, or something more. But is this adjustment a good one for the pop music star? It was close, but our week-long poll ended with 56 percent of Hair Fans saying no (10-8). "Nobody looks good with those short bangs," one voter wrote - but leaving open the door for Aguilera's bangs to be more effective with added length. "The bangs look cuter and more youthful," another commented. But that voter took the analysis in a different direction: "She needs a more natural color, not half platinum/half white." (From what we've seen of Aguilera in this decade, we're not really sure what that natural color is.)


Right photo courtesy Reporter Caps

Browse around our web site for a while, and you'll discover we get a special thrill from a head of curls -- especially when they're all-natural and undefeatable. CNBC reporter Julia Boorstin has that sort of hair. But she's successfully adjusted her look over the last couple of years, as the most skilled curl-holders are able to do. Boorstin has added about four inches of length, stretching her hair below shoulder-length - yet while softening the style so the curls are wavy instead of frizzy.

Has Boorstin made the right change? In terms of going longer, our one-week poll found 59 percent of Hair Fans think so (10-7). But the people who left comments were more concerned about shape and length. "She needs to go back to the curls like she has in the first photo!" one declared. Another actually called the older curls "sexy." But could Boorstin keep them controlled and attractive with several more inches, without stretching them beyond comprehension? We think she actually erred on the side of great-looking curls -- and is showing us bouncy balls, which get business-minded Hair Fans dreaming about something besides Treasury bills.


Courtesy Reporter Caps

Who says blondes are lacking in intelligence? Fox News Channel likes to tout the academic background of morning news anchor Megyn Kelly - how her training was to be an attorney, and how she once edited the Albany Law Review. She also seems to have "hair smarts" when it comes to style control, as she's added some sturdy rolled-back flips and curls in recent months. But did Kelly outsmart herself, when she trimmed her style from below the shoulders to neck-shoulder length?

Our one-week poll brought a good turnout, and a 64-percent majority verdict in favor of the shorter look (21-12). But the only voter to leave a comment preferred Kelly's longer style -- and at the risk of getting verbally lashed by Bill O'Reilly, so do we. More length admittedly can make hair preparation for this kind of look more challenging. But it makes the overall hold that much more impressive, when it happens day after day.


Right photo courtesy MTV

As we prepared this report on Scarlet Johansson's recent style change, we came upon a survey of women. It declared the actress has the "sexiest body," because of her curves. While that's nice to know, please note we did not distract Hair Fans with such things. We simply wanted to know their thoughts about this long-time blonde turning brunette, as she appeared on a movie promotional tour.

Our week-long poll came down to the final vote - and it made the margin 53 percent for Johansson making the brunette change (8-7). She actually showed that color when she was nominated for a 2007 Crown Award. "I said blonde but it's a toss-up," one voter wrote. "Either way, she's a hottie!" - apparently curves or none.

******************* .

Beyonce Knowles sang at the 2009 Academy Awards, and many people were impressed. Alicia Keys simply presented several Oscars, but she impressed Hair Fans every bit as much. Her elegant rolling waves on one shoulder was your runaway choice for the star style of the show.

Our one-week survey ended with Keys locking up 68 percent of the votes. Voters praised her for a "nice length," and hair that's "flowing nicely." But when second place goes to "Other" in our polls, it gets our attention - and write-ins wound up with 20 percent. Their suggestions, and why they didn't make our ballot:

* Susan Downey -- who caught our eye during the red-carpet preview, and would have made the ballot had she done more than show up.

* Anne Hathaway -- who wore pins, as many actresses did.

* Melissa Leo - an Oscar nominee who never left "contestants' row."

* Kate Winslet -- whose style was so perfectly molded and sculpted that it would easily be Super-Hair, yet we thought might be too perfect for our voters.

The only other woman on our list to receive any votes was Jennifer Aniston, at 13 percent. Her "hair ribbon" approach actually was panned by one online critic for being among the worst styles of the night. We agree to disagree.


So what is it about Brittni Lally? Is it the natural waviness of her long hair -- however long it really is? The wind-blown feel of the DePaul University photo? The sense of mystery, from the hair hidden behind her shoulders? No one left a comment to say. But whatever the explanation, Lally outlasted seven other top college cuts to win our "Elite Eight" tournament of the Best Manes on Campus for the 2008-09 term.

A week-long race ended with the soccer goalie capturing 38 percent of your votes. Then came Andrea Sellmeyer, as the Oklahoma golfer who received a pair of Crown Awards gained 25 percent. Notre Dame's Denise Ellision and Concordia-St. Paul's Emily Stanzyk tied for third at 13 percent each. Pacific-Ten rivals Jessica Fishburn of Stanford and "Heather" the UCLA Spirit Squad member followed at six percent each.


For a moment, we feared the excitement would be too much. Actress Kate Beckinsale admitted she was excited about introducing Sir Paul McCartney at the 2009 Grammy Awards. As some audience members joined in preliminary whooping, Beckinsale had to pat her loose long locks away from her face once due to the noticeable effects on an on-stage fan. But the hair stayed out of her eyes throughout, which qualified her as a contender for our best style of the show - and Beckinsale won in a runaway decision.

The British star piled up 59 percent of the votes in our one-week poll. Then came a tie at 13 percent between the oft-outstanding muscular waves of Sheryl Crow and "Other." One voter suggested Kimberly Caldwell, whom we never noticed on stage (perhaps this was based on a "red-carpet" show) but who had a blonde shag style. Another praised Katy Perry for a "gorgeous 50's bob." It had to be strong to last through her lightning-fast moves on stage -- but she hurt her cause by being too fast for us to snap well, and we thought we caught a few strands stuck in her face at one moment.

As for our other suggestions, Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland gained nine percent of the votes. And big Grammy winner Alison Krauss was a disappointment here, at only five percent of the vote - even though she thrilled us for keeping long hair in line during bendovers early and a "wind machine" song at the end of the night.


We can't blame many Hair Fans for being disappointed with competitive figure skating these days - as pins and tiebacks seem to dominate. U.S. ice dancer Tanith Belbin was an exception to the conservatism, but she had to miss the national meet because her partner is injured. Yet Belbin showed up at a TV exhibition in South Dakota with two surprises -- a different partner, and medium-long hair that had been trimmed to a neck-length short cut.

Belbin's bob dropped during the routine we saw - but is this a good change for her overall? Our one-week poll had voters doing the splits, but 54 percent preferring the old style (15-13). The comment section was unanimous: "Nothing cute about the short hair on her," one said. "The long waves were beautiful," wrote another; "the shorter do is a mix between cute and soccer mom." And for the voter who claimed "anyone can have short hair" - yes, that's true. But if you grow it out for a long enough time, can't anyone have long hair, too?


Courtesy Wireimage, Fox News Channel/TMZ

"Oops," a Hair Fan wrote us after we announced the 2008 Crown Award nominees. That person had just found new pictures of Best Long Hair nominee Jessica Alba, as the actress had trimmed her long hair to collarbone-length. We determined Alba was still eligible for the award, because the last available picture before the nomination deadline showed her with a long look (shoulder-length or below). But it raised a clear question - did Alba do an "oops" by cutting her hair this short?

Our eight-day poll found 63 percent of Hair Fans want the long style back (17-10) - but length wasn't really the top issue on voters' minds. "Love the bangs," one wrote. "They look cute on her! Make her look more youthful!" Others said Alba "looks like a sheepdog" with the bangs - and one called them "overpowering." But we're not so sure that's a bad thing. Alba has appeared in several superhero movies and TV series, so wouldn't overpowering hair only add to the drama?


Courtesy TV Heads

When we asked a couple of years ago which woman had the best hair on the CBS Early Show, the results surprised us. Julie Chen's loose look is the object of frequent searches here, yet Hannah Storm's style was the favorite of Hair Fans. Since then, Storm has moved from news to her first love of sports. And since she arrived at ESPN, she's added a set of bangs to her shoulder-length style.

They look messy to us from this picture, but our six-day poll found voters consider the change a hit instead of a miss. The bangs were preferred by 73 percent (16-6), with one supporter explaining: "Bangs look cuter, so they make her look younger." But no one took the challenge we suggested in our home-page question, to say if other top ESPN styles should worry about Storm supplanting them in popularity. Bonnie Bernstein apparently isn't sweating - yet.


In 2008 there was a strike - and the Golden Globe Awards were condensed to a mere reading of winners' names. In 2009 the strike was over, but the hairstyles displayed at the Golden Globes were challenging for us. Pins and pullbacks were abundant, inside and outside the hall. But Heroes star Hayden Panettiere used a simple sweep to the side with rolling curls, to win the vote of Hair Fans as the top style of the night.

Panettiere finished our week of voting with 43 percent of the vote - but at least one notable skeptic. "You voted for extensions," wrote someone who may have recalled our 2008 poll on Panettiere's trim to a short cut; he/she added she "is never seen at a public event with her actual hair." We're not so sure her style is still short, based on recent pictures at a fan web site which show she has enough hair to tie behind her head. While we gave Panettiere the benefit of the doubt, the "best of the rest" was Demi Moore at 20 percent. Drew Barrymore and Blake Lively tied with 14 percent, while Globe winner Laura Linney received nine percent and a comment of praise for "amazing" hair.

Another voter noted several unpinned styles looked "messy," and wondered if the wind was blowing in Beverly Hills. Not much, from what we could tell -- so perhaps tossed tresses are trendy in 2009. If so, they could be more susceptible to defeat.


Her hard-fighting flip wowed us earlier in the decade. Then Jamie Colby of Fox News Channel broke the news to us that she'd changed styles. These days Colby seems to be going longer with her look, with ends at the shoulders and possibly going longer.

Is Colby moving in the right direction? Our one-week poll found 60 percent of the voters like the longer look (21-14). But the only one to leave a comment didn't seem thrilled with either look. "Both styles lack body and the color doesn't look natural." Colby's background is in law, so we hope that quote doesn't lead to a slander suit.


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