May 2011: Alyson Footer, Best Curls 2010

Celebrities who appear regularly in the public eye are natural candidates for our attention. Other people appear only once in a while - but they have hair which makes Hair Fans long for more. That's the case with a Houston woman who seems to stand behind cameras more often than she's in front of them.

ALYSON FOOTER has a job title no one could have imagined when the 21st century began: Senior Director of Social Media for baseball's Houston Astros. That means she blogs for the team, handles Facebook and Twitter posts, and occasionally does team analysis on radio and television. It was Alyson's picture profile on Twitter (posted above) that first called our attention to a mass of great natural curls. Other Hair Fans came to notice as well -- and before long she was in our Hot List, Top Ten Tresses list and Crown Awards ballot.

It culminated with Alyson tying for the Best Curls Crown in 2010, then becoming the U.S. representative in the 2011 Cup of the Americas (underway as we write this). And in the true fashion of social media, we started following Alyson's feed. She started visiting our website. One exchange led to another - and the result was not a serious relationship, but Alyson agreeing to answer our e-mail questions (of course) primarily during an Astros road trip:

SUPER-HAIR: How would you describe your current hairstyle? And assuming your curls are natural (how could they NOT be?), do curls run in your family?

ALYSON FOOTER: Definitely naturally curly. When people ask, I tell them, "I would not do this on purpose." I would describe it as layered, long and curly. Over the years, I've layered it more and more in an effort to lessen some of the volume. Most people try to figure out ways to give their hair more body, but I'm the opposite -- I try to keep it as tame as possible, even though I realize having a lot of curly hair in the humidity I live in doesn't make that entirely possible.

Curls do run in my family, on both sides. A lot of the women have thick curly hair in both my dad's family and my mom's. The men are mostly bald. Go figure.

S-H: You tied with Jennifer Beals for our Crown Award for the Best Curls of 2010. Congratulations! Would you like to offer an acceptance speech? (no time limit)

AF: I was on a local radio station talking about just that very thing not long ago. I mean, when else am I going to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jennifer Beals, much less tie her in a contest? Ironically, I was 12 when Flashdance came out, and while I owned the soundtrack and knew every song by heart, I wasn't allowed to see the movie. I spent the night at my friend's house and we were going to watch it on a VHS tape, but I had to call my mom first to get permission to watch it, and Mom said no. So to this day, I've seen bits and pieces of the movie but have never seen it in its entirety.

So I got an extra kick out of tying Jennifer for the Best Curls category. I'd say it was an honor just being nominated, but who are we kidding? I wanted to win!!!

S-H: You noted your mother prefers the current picture in Top Ten Tresses [left]. Did she explain why?

AF: It had nothing to do with the hair, actually. She thought the old picture made my nose look too big (she was right, by the way).

S-H: How long have you had your hair in this style? Have you ever tried something drastically different -- something shorter, or even straight?

AF: I've been wearing it pretty much this way for about 20 years, since college. I used to chemically straighten my hair and blow dry it straight (and it looked awful, by the way). One summer between my sophomore and junior years, I lived in this awful apartment that had terrible wiring. Cincinnati was going through a sweltering heat wave, and where I lived, you could either have the air conditioning running, or your hair dryer, but not both at one time, or you'd blow a fuse. So I had to make a decision. A/C won out. I stopped blow drying my hair and let it go curly. The rest is history (although it was a little dicey during the nine months it took to grow out the bangs).

When I get my hair cut, my hairdresser dries it straight and flat irons it before he cuts it. I love it. I look nothing like myself, and I've often walked right by people who I've known for 15 years and they don't recognize me. It's great!

S-H: Who is the hairdresser who's doing the great job with you? We'll give honor to them.

AF: Juan Cao, owner of Satori Heights Salon in Houston.

S-H: When your hair is straight-dried, how much longer is it compared to normally? (Or have you ever measured it?)

AF: When straight dried, it's probably about two inches longer than when it is curly. I have not measured it however.

S-H: If we followed you around with the Astros, would we find your hair is tied back most of the time? How often do you wear it loose on the job?

AF: At work, I wear it loose, never in a ponytail. But as soon as I get home from work, the first thing I do is reach for the scrunchy and pull the hair back. I'm more comfortable when it's off my neck and out of my face. But I don't go to work looking like that.

S-H: We've mentioned in Top Ten Tresses that keeping your curls looking sharp cannot be easy in hot, humid Houston. Did you have to change your hair routine, when you moved from Cincinnati -- and how did it change?

AF: When I first moved to Houston, I had no idea what to do. My hair was completely out of control. I thought, "Oh God, what have I done?" But you'd be surprised how hair adjusts to extreme climates over time. While the humidity still affects it, it doesn't get as out of control as it did when I first moved here. But I do load up on the products, more than I used when I lived in Cincinnati, obviously.

S-H: What sort of routine do you go through, to get your hair ready for the day -- or for a TV appearance? (It appears you're able to adjust the curls for special events.)

AF: I don't do anything differently for TV. The routine is simple, a lot simpler than for my friends who have straight hair and have to mess with the flat irons. I pretty much gunk it up with products, diffuse it for about seven minutes and I'm done. As much as I'd love to have straight hair, I could never find the time or patience to actually style it. As it stands now, the process takes no more than 10 minutes.

S-H: One of your first Twitter messages to us said something like: "I've never met a diffuser I didn't like." How important is that in making your hair look good, and why?

AF: That's the key. I used to think diffusers would make it too fluffy, but it's the opposite. The curls are way better when you use a diffuser. I never travel without one.

S-H: Are there any other favorite or special products you rely on?

AF: Kerastase products -- my hairdresser recently introduced me -- are amazing.

S-H: What's the biggest challenge you face keeping your hair in place and looking good?

AF: As long as I don't touch it, it usually holds up. It's when I start messing around with it that it gets unruly. This can be challenging, especially with the job I have. When I'm sitting in the press box at Astros games, it's easy to unconsciously start messing with it, either out of nervousness or boredom. That can create a little bit of a disaster by the end of the night.

S-H: Has your hair ever collapsed in your face (on camera or off) -- and if so, how?

AF: I wish my hair was capable of collapsing! The only thing it does is frizz out and get big.

S-H: What advice would you give women who wanted to copy your curls, or develop Super-Hair in general?

AF: Stay away from over-highlighting or coloring your hair. I see so many people with such overprocessed hair, from years of chemicals and extreme heat from flat irons or curling irons. Healthy hair is a lot easier to manage and it'll look a ton better.

S-H: We like to ask women who they consider to have the best head of hair they've ever seen....

AF: I am so envious of anyone who has long, straight to wavy hair with lots of body. This sounds cliche, but Jennifer Aniston has to be at the top of the list. I saw Alyssa Milano at Dodger Stadium one time and had major hair envy as well.

SUMMARY: Hair which never collapses is Super-Hair, indeed! (And it's a claim Jennifer Beals can't make.) Our last two pictures came from a "ballpark food" video where wind tried to push Alyson's hair around, and even into her face for defeat -- but she fought back successfully with a timely head turn and quick adjustments using her ears. It's that sort of skill with large-scale Super-curls which makes this baseball writer "The Natural" for many Hair Fans to follow and appreciate, even if her team is in a slump.


Read more than 30 additional interviews, in the Super-Hair Q&A Archive!

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