June 2005: Kim Barnes, Austin City League Champion

Celebrity hairstyles can look flashy, yet be laborious and time-consuming to prepare. Perhaps you don't have the time for that. You're a working woman or a stay-at-home mom, who wants something simple yet attractive. Allow us to introduce you to someone who's all of that, and a Super-Hair champion as well....

KIM BARNES was a TV news anchor in Austin, Texas for years. She left the air in the summer of 2004, and describes herself as simply a "working mom" now. Yet her hair impressed voters in our City League tournament so much that she was voted the Austin champion -- so what works for her hair could work for you. Kim talked with us by phone, just as her children came home from school one afternoon:

SUPER-HAIR: Have you seen the picture we put on our web site.... apparently that was from your days at KVUE, is that right?

KIM BARNES: Yes. I just left last summer, so it hasn't been that long since I was gone.... so it looks basically the same now.... I think it's a little bit shorter now.

S-H: How would you describe your hairstyle? What you have?

KB: I guess kind of a simple, fairly low-maintenance kind of hairstyle. Nothing too fancy, or requiring too much maintenance.

S-H: How long have you had it that way?

KB: Probably for about the last two or three years. My hair's never been dramatically different. It kind of gets a little longer, a little shorter. I had bangs; now I don't really have as many bangs.... I've never been a real daring hairstyle person. I've never had really, really short hair; I've never had really, really long hair. It kind of stays somewhere between chin length and a little longer than shoulder-length.... flips under, flips up.... I've never been that daring.

S-H: All things in moderation, right?

KB: And I think that being an anchor and reporter for so many years - you don't want to get too crazy, and you don't want it to be something that's so hard to maintain that if you're standing out doing a live shot and it's windy, or if you've been outside sweating all day at a story, that you're going to look terrible if you don't have, you know, curlers or a curling iron and all the styling stuff, to make it look good.... So I always wanted to have a hairstyle that was pretty simple, to make it look right.

S-H: Since you brought that up.... people who work in television news talk a lot about "anchor hair."

KB: Right....

S-H: And you're a former news anchor....

KB: Yes....

S-H: So does the right hairstyle matter, if you're going to be a TV news anchor?

KB: I don't know that as much as there's a specific hairstyle, but I think certainly one that looks good on you.... When you're on the news, it has to be still. You don't want to have bangs that are swooping over and falling into your eyes if you move your head the wrong way. So you've got to be able to spray it or whatever you want to do, to make it stay -- which I guess is where the "anchor hair" comes from, because a lot of people over-plaster or over-hairspray. But you have to do that to some point, because.... it has to be still....

There are some hairstyles, you want it to be kind of free-flowing and look that way. But when you're on the news, every hair has to, sort of, be in its place so that it doesn't look funny. And I think more than anything, it's just making sure that you don't have a hairstyle that is distracting. And I think that's why so many people stick with probably what they call anchor hair -- but something really simple. Nothing too trendy, nothing too hard to maintain, just because - you don't want to be doing anything where the people are only looking at your hairstyle.... or your makeup or the way you dress, and not then listening to what you're saying, because your job is to deliver the news.

You don't want them to be concentrating on, "Wow, she must have dyed her hair!" or "Wow, looks different!" or "She's got a new hairstyle," or "Looks terrible today!" (Laughs)

S-H: I've heard stories of news anchors who make changes like that, and get people talking....

KB: Oh, absolutely. And sometimes it is kind of a hard position, because you are an individual and you're a person outside of your job. So you want to have a hairstyle that you like all the time -- but it is hard if you get something that's too trendy or too dramatic or whatever, to where then people aren't listening to what you're saying; they're just looking at your hair. And certainly they may do that, anyway, even if you change it from something that looks really bad to something that looks really good. But on a day-to-day basis, once you get something that's kind of consistent, then people aren't focusing on, "Oh, her hair looks good today," or "Oh, it looks bad today." You just want to have something that can look good the majority of the time.

But that totally depends on - some people's hair looks better long; some people's hair looks better short. It's really just a matter of, I guess, finding something that looks good - I don't like to curl my hair. I don't like to spend all that time doing too much stuff. So it's mainly finding something that you think looks good on you and is easy for you to maintain. If you have really curly hair and you're always trying to straighten it - well, that might be hard for some people. Some people may not be able to do that very well. So then, maybe you need to figure out something different....

It doesn't do any good if you can go get your hair cut, your hairstylist makes it looks great for that one day, but then it looks terrible for the next 30 days until you get it cut again.

S-H: You like the style you have. That's obvious....

KB: And I am wearing it a little bit shorter now, from when I had those pictures taken. My layers may be a little different - sometimes it changes; some days I like it more, some days I like it less. I like to be able to still have hair long enough that I can put it in a ponytail when I'm not working. (Laughs)

S-H: I guess what you like most about is, it's low-maintenance, right?

KB: It's pretty low maintenance, yeah.

S-H: Anything you don't like about it?

KB: I guess it's hard to make it look not too styled. Like too slick or whatever. And my hair is wavy, so I blow-dry it straight. So I guess that's probably what I don't like about it; just that it's harder - you can't really tell, because I dry it straight, but - on a real humid day, it doesn't look very good. (Laughs)

S-H: What sort of routine do you do to get ready for the day? Say if you were going to be back in television - what sort of routine would you go through?

KB: After I would wash it, I would just put some straightener stuff in it, and then blow-dry it, and then tease it a little bit and spray it.

S-H: Any particular products you like more than others?

KB: What I have found is you get what you pay for - sometimes.... I don't use one particular brand, necessarily. But I do usually buy all my stuff at the hair salon, rather than at the grocery store. I like Bumble and Bumble.... I'm not loyal to any one brand, but I usually do buy stuff at the salon, rather than at the grocery store. Not that there's anything wrong with that, either; but just for my hair, it just seems to work better.

S-H: Has your routine changed, now that you're off regular nightly telecasts and you're involved with this Carole Kneeland Project?

KB: I don't have to use near as much hairspray (laughs), which is nice just because that can be kind of damaging on your hair. And I probably get to wear my hair in a ponytail more often than I used to before.

S-H: By the way, explain what the Carole Kneeland Project is, for those who don't know.

KB: It is the Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Journalism, and it is a nonprofit group that trains news directors. So I'm the project coordinator. I've actually been working for the Kneeland Project for four-and-a-half years. So I actually was working for the project before I quit the station; I had been working part-time at KVUE for the four years before I quit.

When my second child was born, I went part-time and worked four years at KVUE anchoring the weekends, and just working Saturdays and Sundays. And then last summer, when I was told -- given an option of going back full-time or quitting, I chose to quit because -- I have young kids and didn't want to go back full-time. And my husband is the sports director, and so he works the crazy schedule, too.

S-H: That's understandable....

KB: Yeah, we didn't want to have two people working crazy schedules.... The life of a reporter is very hard as a working parent.

S-H: So what is the biggest problem you face keeping your hair in place, day after day? Is it the humidity you face in Texas - or is there a lot of humidity you face in Austin?

KB: Austin is not as bad as Houston. I grew up in Houston, so that was terrible, terrible humidity. Here, there still is some. For those of us who grew up in Houston, it doesn't seem so bad - but for people from other parts of the state, it seems pretty humid. So it's not too bad. I think it's just hard sometimes making it look - I have fine hair; a lot of it, but it's fine. So probably when you style it and you leave the house, it doesn't always look the same when you get somewhere 30 minutes later. So that's probably the main thing - and the longer it is, the harder it is to do that with, I think.

S-H: Now if you want an embarrassing question, I'll ask one. (Barnes laughs) When was the last time your hair just collapsed in public? It fell in your eyes and everything? When did it happen? Or does it ever happen?

KB: The only time I can ever think of, on the news -- the only time I can ever think of actually having to do something really strange; I remember during - and this was forever ago, this will make me sound old - but during the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, the final day, it was so windy, so windy that I had my hair in a ponytail the whole day.

S-H: I remember that, yeah....

KB: ....which is not the most professional way to look when you're on the news. But it was so windy that there was no other -- nothing else you could do with it. But I think that for the most part.... I can probably count the number of times that I've ever had to pull it back and put it in a ponytail. And that was like once or twice, ever.

The good thing is, most of the time I could put my hair behind my ears and it would look OK. It might not have looked great. If I had been out in the rain, or covering floods or something like that - but I could think of maybe covering a flood where it got really wet, so it was really kinky looking and it didn't look good.... (laughs) But thankfully that didn't happen too many times. I could usually fuss with it enough or work with it enough that it would pretty much look the same every single day.

S-H: So you're able to keep in place pretty well when you get it set up?!

KB: Just the way that it was styled - it just knew where to go. It just went by itself, kind of -- it was sort of trained to where; there either wasn't that much to it - it's not such an involved style that if one hair flips the wrong way, it throws the whole thing off.

S-H: Right....

KB: There's not much to it. It's just kind of longer bangs or shorter bangs, or longer length; a few more layers, less layers....

S-H: Now you say you have no bangs now, is that right?

KB: They're real long. They're kind of swoopy bangs, I guess.... like in that picture, where they just kind of go over to the side.

S-H: Are there advantages, disadvantages to that? Having your bangs longer or shorter?

KB: They are harder to make them stay out of your eyes. Absolutely. If I was reporting all the time, I don't think I'd have them like that, because either you have to pull them all the way behind your ears, so you don't have any bangs - which, I don't like the way my hair looks if I don't have any bangs. If you just have straight-across bangs, they usually just stay there, unless it's real windy. So it is harder to have a style that'll stay still when you have really long bangs, because it's easier for them to get in your eyes.

My grandfather my whole life, when I was a kid was (saying), "Put your bangs over! We can't see your eyes!" So I think about that....

S-H: You've learned.

KB: Yes.

S-H: What advice would you give someone who wanted to develop a great head of hair, Super-Hair? Say, for anchor duty?

KB: For anchor duty, I would just say you need to work with your hairstylist to find something that's flattering for you and that's easy for you to do. It can't be something that looks great when your hairstylist does it, unless you have a personal hairstylist who's gonna do your hair every day for work - but most of us did not! - so most of us have to be able to do it ourselves.

So you just need to work with your hairstylist to find a cut that is flattering for you, easy for you to maintain, and can work if you need it to be still. As well as, if you're going to be out in the elements, that you don't look just bizarre and -- oh, OK, come on in, honey! Come on in! Wave! (We laugh) OK. Sorry about that; just got home. Being a working mom is really hard.

S-H: Sure.

KB: But mainly making sure that you have a style that's a little bit versatile, so that you can - if you do get stuck outside and you're doing live shots outside or whatever, that it can still look half-decent; that you don't look like a wet rat just because you step out of the studio....

S-H: Right....

KB: Because I think that's what happens with a lot of people. They can look perfect if you're inside, but once you step outside, it just doesn't work well. But I think the main thing is just having something that you can do yourself....

S-H: We should give a mention of who your stylist is. Do you have a favorite stylist?

KB: That's funny.... I've had lots of different -- the salon I go to is called Anne Kelso in Austin. And I'm trying to remember - I think my current stylist, her name is Brooke. But actually, I've only been going to her for a couple of months because my other person left -- I've had someone there cut my hair for probably the last, oh, six years maybe?

S-H: We like to ask women who they consider to have the best head of hair they've ever seen. It could be in Austin; it could be anywhere.

KB: I think Michelle Pfeiffer has great hair. I've always liked that she can have different looks easily, but it always looks good.

SUMMARY: Sometimes when it comes to great hair, simpler is better -- and Kim seems to take that approach with great success. Her changes over the years apparently have been subtle, without affecting the overall look or how well it stays in place. We hope Kim's tips help you - and we hope she doesn't vanish completely from sight inside the "Austin City Limits." Hair which looks nice and stays out of the eyes should be out in the open, for all to admire. And oh yes - thank you Grandpa, for the great advice about bangs!


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