Cutting-Edge Hair News, 2003

The untimely death of John Ritter made 2003 difficult for everyone involved with the TV comedy 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. But even before his death changed the storyline, actress Kaley Cuoco showed off a change of her own. The straight blonde hair of Season 1 had bangs added to the forehead in the fall.

Perhaps this change was small, but we found it noteworthy -- and we wondered if Hair Fans liked it. Our eight-day holiday poll showed voters torn until the final day - then came a sudden surge to make the final count 63 percent for bangs, 37 percent against. (19-11)

The only voter to comment this time called the bangs "very cute." We'd add they're also very functional -- for while Cuoco did a very good job keeping the long hair out of her eyes in the first season of her show (note slight tuck-backs in the left photo, for instance), bangs can make a longer style more precise, less bothersome and even a bit more mysterious.


Faith Hill did not sing the song, "Oops, I Did It Again" - but given her style record, she could. For the second time in four years, the four-time Crown Award winner has cut long locks down to short. And our one-week poll about the latest chop brought a big thumbs-down.

After the first cut in 2001, we posted a statement Hill made in Redbook: "It's just my hair. It's not like it's in the Smithsonian or something." Don't tell Hair Fans that - because the change first displayed at the Country Music Association Awards was rejected by a 79-to-21 percent margin. (23-6) What makes this curious is that Hill's apparently well-moussed 'do gained a strong write-in vote in our poll for Best Hair at the CMA's (see below).

One voter went so far as to send us a picture of the character "Big Heat" from the movie "The Town That Forgot Christmas," and said it reminded him of Hill's hair now. "She might as well go all the way and buzz it all off!" another griped. "She really knows how to ruin a great head of hair."


Courtesy Feathered Back; TV

When it comes to some women, a slight hairstyle adjustment is no big deal. When it comes to Judy Fortin, some Hair Fans consider it a very big deal. After all, this CNN Headline News anchor is our "Ultimate of Ultimates" -- #1 on our list of the 50 greatest styles over three decades, and by extension a long-lasting member of our Top Ten list. So when a Hair Fan wrote us to complain about Fortin's change to full bangs and a tighter cap, we paid attention.

"Either she's going through some mid-life crisis, or CNN has hired the hair stylist from Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel," the letter said. The author encouraged us to get your opinion on the change, and voters were quite split. A poll extended to ten days by a web server transition ended with 52 percent preferring Fortin's old style on the left, and 48 percent for the new look on the right. (14-13) One voter said Fortin currently has "a style for a 14 year old, not a distinguished, excellent, attractive, adult news anchor."

Since no voters wrote in Fortin's defense, we will. In recent months, the sideparted bangs were slipping noticeably on camera -- and they looked so near the right eye that the Ultimate #1 could have had fallen hair at any time. The new look has better-trimmed bangs that cannot fall, and a bit of length near the eyes which are quite unlikely to slip in a studio. It's not the look we've come to know and appreciate, but this adjustment brings Fortin back to the ranks of top-level unbeatable styles. And to borrow a football team's slogan, it's all about "just winning, baby."


Right photo courtesy Extra

So her new TV reality series is called The Simple Life, eh? Paris Hilton probably wishes her life would be a bit simpler these days. Not only is she red-faced over those steamy green-lens videotapes popping up all over cyberspace (sorry, voyeurs, no links here), Paris is panned by Hair Fans for cutting her long hair.

Hilton caught our eye by displaying a short, tight style with long bangs at a fashion show in Sydney. But our week-long poll (extended a day by continuing web server glitches) found voters giving the change the "down under." A 79-percent majority prefers a longer look (26-7) - one we suspect she's made even longer at times with extensions.

"Is Paris going for the Lisa Kudrow look?" one voter asked -- and given our recent poll on Kudrow's cut, that person probably is against it. "Shorter looks hideous!" another complained. And someone who apparently has seen the ads promoting The Simple Life wondered: "Did she lose her hair in a tractor accident?" (We don't know; you'll have to tune in.)



"Why is the filter EVER off?" So one voter grumbled as our contest unfolded for the best hair at the November 2003 American Music Awards. Truly some Hair Fans took this competition seriously - and were certainly not singing toward Stevie Nicks one of her old rock music lines: "Will you ever win?"

The race began as the Awards telecast was underway, and it changed practically day by day. Hillary Duff jumped to a big early lead, but supporters of Sheryl Crow and Faith Hill soon made that "So Yesterday." With Crow seemingly heading for victory, Nicks suddenly gained about 35 votes on day five. (And yes, our voting filter was off - as we considered this more a "fun" question than a competitive one with a title at stake.)

After almost a week of voting, Nicks was the controversial leader with 44 percent. (She and her group Fleetwood Mac were apparently such big surprises that the AMA's didn't bother to post a picture of them from Germany; we must settle for a 2000 concert photo with a similar style.) Then came Crow with 23 percent, Duff dropping to 13 percent, Hill at 12 percent and seven percent for Ashanti.

Duff's usually tough banged style gained the most comments - but the sudden presence of dark strands amid the blonde hair left many voters unimpressed. "What is the deal.... keep it all blond, please," one wrote. "Lose the fake hair; it's so so u-g-l-y," advised another. But Duff's slight change had supporters as well: "The darker color underneath the blonde is just fantastic!!!" (Photo courtesy Access Atlanta)


Norah Jones wore a few curls very close - but pinned back. Faith Hill's hair had flow, but was a lot shorter. So the door was open for a few new names and styles to shine at the Country Music Association Awards November 5. But Hair Fans preferred some familiar faces and styles.

One-time Crown Award winner Martina McBride wound up on top, in a survey expanded to 11 days due to web server problems. Her short style gained 42 percent of the votes, beating 18 percent each for Shania Twain and crossover performer Sheryl Crow. But perhaps the biggest news was the 21-percent write-in vote for Faith Hill, who we thought was wearing a swept-up pin job. (That's why she wasn't on the nomination list.) Only after watching the American Music Awards red carpet show did we realize she's made a big trim, apparently with plenty of mousse.

"Faith's hair was the most regal," one voter explained. "As much as I loved her long, curly locks, her new shorter style is a definite fashion 'do' of the best kind -- one that improves on the previous style." But another voter seemed unimpressed with the entire field. "Shania's hair looked like c**p except for the length. Martina and Faith both looked like they went to the same place, the hair butcher."


Many Hair Fans thrill to see women take chances with their styles - especially if the adjustments look good, and the women keep that good look against all odds. We can think of no better example these days than actress Kristen Davis of "Sex and the City." We've praised her and placed her in our Top Ten for her skill in keeping sideparted hair out of her eyes. Only this year Kristen's cut has grown out a few inches - yet with the same base style, which she clearly works to keep out of her eyes through a muscular curl and careful head-shakes. (Viewers of David Letterman's talk show may recall one night where she maneuvered the hair exceptionally well.)

Is Davis's decision to go longer a good one? Our ten-day poll seemed to leave the decision a draw -- 51 percent of you prefer it longer, and 49 percent shorter. (41-40) Yet the few comments left by voters wondered why we made it a big deal in the first place. "There really doesn't seem to be a difference between short or long hair for her," one wrote. "She may be that rare woman for whom it wouldn't make a difference whether she wears her hair short or long. Can we have a 'not sure' or 'undecided' choice for this one?"


Major League Baseball fans will remember 2003 for several surprises - from Florida beating the New York Yankees to the Chicago Cubs collapsing (well, maybe that wasn't a surprise to some). For Hair Fans, the biggest surprise probably occurred at the Fox Sports studio. Host Jeanne Zelasko grew her hair out from shoulder-short to armpit-long. (It's even longer than our photo at right; if someone has a more accurate picture, please pass it on to us and we'll post it.)

One message board claimed Zelasko used extensions, which we doubt. But even if she did, was this a good change? Our voters were divided like never before on this question. The weeklong "World Series" poll ended with 51 percent preferring the shorter look, while 49 percent like it longer. (45-43) Some of you offered very insightful comments about the adjustment:

"The company image consultant needs to be taken to the carpet by the Fox people. Why he or she would suggest Jeanne would fare better with the Bonnie Bernstein style is either lazy or nuts. Jeanne's shorter style fits her much better than trying to be a carbon-copy of some other high profile colleague of hers."

"Jeannie looks 10 times better with long hair than short, I am stunned at those who want her hair to be short, ridiculous."

"Shorter is more stylish and professional looking. It also separates her from 90% of the other female sports anchors out there."

"I originally voted 'Shorter,' but as far I am concerned, there is room for two long-haired beauties covering sports: Bonnie Bernstein and Jeanne Zelasko. Anyone else who votes to keep her hair 'short' are the same idiots who have complained that Ms. Bernstein's hair is too long."

"Her shorter look is more stylish and sophisticated."

"She looks awesome with long hair!!!"

"Shorter looked more stylish, but she looks great either way!"

"Sports reporters with long, straight hair are a dime a dozen now: Barberie, Guerrero, Bernstein, etc. It's sad to see Jeanne go along with the crowd."

"Is it just me or does she look like Fawn Hall in the [left] pic on the home page?" (This Hair Fan just showed his or her age. For those who don't know, Fawn Hall was an executive assistant to Oliver North in Ronald Reagan's White House. We can see the resemblance a bit - but remember, Hall's hair was a good bit longer.)

We'd add a brief P.S. to this poll: Won't Zelasko have to cut the longer look a bit to return to the NASCAR pits next season - or maybe tie it back, to avoid a fire hazard?


Right photo courtesy Entertainment Tonight

Her new movie is called "Wonderland" -- but many Hair Fans who saw Lisa Kudrow at its premiere might have changed it to "Wonder Why." They say Phoebe of Friends fame did a faux pas by cutting her long blonde locks into a neck-length "shag" style.

Courteney Cox seemed to cut her locks without losing popularity - so could Kudrow copy her? Our 12-day survey found a whopping 85 percent of you want Kudrow's hair longer again. (126-23) "It looks like a wet mop being left out in the sun to dry out," complained one voter of the new look. "Short hair is less sexy and long hair is more flippy," wrote another. A third made a general comment that too many women today "try to look like a bunch of wet dogs on the street corner." (No, that's not a compliment.) But Kudrow found a few Friends through the style change - as one said, "Her face looks too long with long hair."


Courtesy KFMB-TV

Our October campaign slogan in California would be, "Yes on Super-Hair! Yes for...." well, wait a minute. Whose head of hair would we endorse in the wild recall campaign for Governor? We decided to leave the second half of the slogan to Hair Fans -- offering four top contenders for first lady or Governor, and asking which one would prevail in a Super-Hair War.

The five-day voting period ended on recall referendum day - and despite the rumors and accusations, Republican Maria Shriver came out on top. She gained 53-percent support, beating a strong 42-percent showing by Independent Arianna Huffington. Despite a mention on our Hot List, Democratic incumbent Sharon Davis gained only five percent of the vote - and "D'Alternative" Arcelia Bustamante received no votes at all. (20-16-2-0)

"Sharon had a most better hair style," declared one supporter of the first lady. But many voters seemed unimpressed by any of the options -- and may have wished privately we'd put some of the porn star candidates on the ballot. "Nobody looks good," one groaned. And another added: "Their hair can't save any of them. This may be one of the weakest group of hair candidates for any war in any category."


After years as a "side dish" of sorts on weekend variety shows, Kiki Shepard finally is the main course. She's put the "Showtime" shows and Harlem far behind, to emcee a new program called "Live in Hollywood." And to make the change complete, Shepard chopped her long locks of recent years - going to a long-helmet style which keeps her traditionally good bangs. (The picture on the right will be updated, once the show's web site posts a better look at it.)

Was Kiki's cut the right thing to do? Our five-day poll found most voters ready to bring out Sandman Sims and kick her off the stage. A 76-percent majority want Shepard to grow the hair back out. (16-5) Since this is one of our Top Ten Tresses, her position tied for fifth will be hurt by this result.

No voters left comments about this change, but we'd like to offer our own. The shorter look, well, grew on us as we watched it. The hair seems to have more movement now, but the bangs make sure it doesn't get too far out of line. Shepard still has a great style to watch, so we're reluctant to dismiss it completely.


Courtesy Wireimage

Some people say it was about time Debra Messing received an Emmy award for her comedy work on "Will and Grace." Well, we can beat that - as Messing's hairstyle at the Emmys made her three-for-three in honors on our web site this year!

We asked you which woman displayed the best hair on prime-time Emmy night September 21 - and as with the Crown Awards for Best Curls and the Hall of Fame balloting, Messing impressed Hair Fans again. Her slightly wavy style gained 62 percent of the votes in our six-day poll. Christina Applegate, whose sideparted short bob was named "best tressed" by E! Online, was second in our sampling at 26 percent. There were also votes for Kim Cattrall and Jane Kaczmarek, as well as write-ins "Jen" (we're assuming Aniston, since Ms. Lopez was spotted somewhere in Georgia) and Drew Barrymore, worth three percent each.

(We'd add a P.S.: Messing's style offers good lessons in how to keep sideparted long hair in place. It's lengthy enough to stay in place if thrown behind the shoulders, can be thrown back with a right-side tilt, can be tucked back behind at least the left ear for control, and seems sprayed or teased enough on top to last for a long while.)


Courtesy Reuters

If this web site was Super-Hair Color.Net, the late Celia Cruz would have won a lifetime achievement award. She displayed everything from electric blue to copper in her years of salsa singing. But our question about the 4th annual Latin Grammy Awards was which living woman at the show had the best style - and there was quite a division.

We opened the voting during the September 3 show. When it closed five days later (admittedly hindered by apparent problems with our polling partner), merengue star Olga Tañon had pulled off another surprise. The woman famous for hair longer than her marriage to baseball star Juan Gonzalez gained 38 percent support from voters -- again beating the highly-hyped Thalia with 31 percent. The curls of Gloria Estefan received 23 percent. And for the first time, we offered you the opportunity to write in a candidate - and eight percent recommended Daisy Fuentes.


Right photo courtesy TeenMusic

When it comes to the group Destiny's Child, Beyonce Knowles gets all the hair attention. She has length, plenty of variety and a mother who loves to try different styles. (And at the MTV Video Music Awards, Knowles's hair looked so tempting upside-down.) But the other singers have styles worth checking as well. Kelly Rowland is the "short-haired" one -- or she was until recently.

Rowland grew her loose cut out to a surprisingly tight shoulder-length look, for the premiere of the movie Freddy vs. Jason. Is this change after several years a good move for her? We asked for your opinion over a week, and Hair Fans were quite divided. The final count showed two-thirds of you prefer the longer style (44-22).

"She looks more adult and beautiful with it longer," one voter wrote. But others suggested Rowland try even a shorter style than she normally shows. "Shorter had a more natural color," said one -- which is interesting, since Rowland sometimes added a dose of red to that look.


Right photo courtesy E! Online

So much for that rule about TV stars trimming their long hair. Actress Alyssa Milano certainly did, during the off-season of "Charmed" - chopping all the way from armpit-length to pixie-short. (She's on the right in our right photo, joined by co-star Holly Marie Combs.) We seem to recall her making a big cut like this years ago as well, during her years on "Who's the Boss?"

Is this change a good one for Milano? The answer from Hair Fans came quickly: NOOOOOO. Our week-long poll found 80-percent rejection of the shorter style (117-30), and plenty of comments ranging from insult to shock:

"What did she do? Did she cut her own hair with a pair of rusty shears?"

"That is an AWFUL look for her! Looks like she's recovering from chemotherapy."

"If it were any shorter, she could style it with a toothbrush!"

"Was she cursed by some hair demon?"

"Give her a mole on her cheek, and she could star in Northern Exposure: The Movie!" (So where are the Janine Turner fans, coming to her rescue?)

Only one Milano defender left a comment: "She looks INCREDIBLE with short!" But obviously, that voter was on the (ahem) short end of the count.


The veteran vs. the relative newcomer. News vs. sports. Blonde vs. brunette. Short vs. long. Put all these rivalries together, and you have a spirited battle for the top choice of Hair Fans among styles on our Top Ten Tresses list.

If college and high school football in the U.S. can have pre-season rankings, we reasoned, why not have Hair Fans rank the Top Ten? So for the first time, we asked you to pick the number-one undefeated Super-Style -- and Judy Fortin and Kelly Tilghman grappled each other for the lead all week long. It admittedly was reassuring for us to see our "Ultimate 50" #1 style of Fortin fare so well. And when our week of polling ended, she and Tilghman were deadlocked at 33 percent of the vote each.

Below the co-leaders, there was a surprise or two. Miss U.S.A. Susie Castillo put on a strong burst at mid-week, and came in third at 12-percent. Pageboy perfectionist Norah O'Donnell settled for fourth at 10 percent. Then came Norah Jones, Debbie McCormick and Kiki Shepard with three percent each and Stephanie Woods with two percent. Those receiving no votes at all were Senator Mary Landrieu - and, we're disappointed to say, Ultimate #2 and 44-month veteran of the list Carolyn Peck. (We still believe, Coach.)

Fortin won a secondary contest for most comments among the Top Ten. "Classy, pretty, professional!" one voter declared. Another said, "I would just love to mess up Judy's hair for fun!" To which another agreed: "Judy's hair is always so perfect. It would be fun to mess it up!" (Ooooo - Hair Fans after our own hands, er, heart. But she's so Ultimate.... is it possible?)

Tilghman also was praised for "smooth and silky" hair. And there was also this comment: "Kiki Shepard has the prettiest hair, but mine looks a lot better!" It does? PROVE IT -- and send us a picture!


It's our belief that the best heads of Super-Hair have more than natural beauty and solidly-controlled strength. They also have a bit of drama and mystery to them -- in terms of how the hair stays in position, or keeps its good shape in pressure situations. It leaves admirers asking the question posed in a hairspray commercial years ago: "How does she do it? Not a hair out of place!"

Perhaps it's only fitting that a dramatic actress offers a great example of that. Jacqueline Obradors showed apparently natural curls when she joined the cast of NYPD Blue, and they stayed in line well. Then "Detective Ortiz" suddenly went to a long, straight style -- and with help from suddenly-developing bangs on the forehead, they kept a solid position as well.

So which style is best for the woman some have dubbed the new "Jackie-O?" Our one-week survey found supporters of straight strands prevailing again -- though the curl-lovers made a late run. The final margin was 61-percent for straight hair. (23-15) No one left comments this time, but we must admit it was the straight look that impressed us enough to put Obradors in our Top Ten list for awhile.


Right photo courtesy TV Guide

"If it were not for this site, I would never have heard of Lisa Rinna." What a voter wrote during our survey on Rinna's styles applies to us as well. We only vaguely knew the name until Hair Fans suggested her for a Super-Hair Wars round in 2001. Rinna won one match then -- yet judging from our e-mail and web site searches, she'd last a lot longer now. She's grown out an already-attractive short sidepart (one which competed hard for a Crown Award earlier in the year) into something longer and steamier, as she hosts "Soap Talk" on the SoapNet cable channel.

We wanted to know if Hair Fans in general agreed with the longer look -- and they do. Our one-week poll found 70-percent of you like it (31-13). "Longer distracts from her lips," one mixed reviewer said. Another commented: "Longer frames her beauteous face better, as well."


The punchlines are so tempting for the changes comic Kathy Griffin has made to her body lately. Maybe "Suddenly Sutures" - or "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Made Over Here." For reasons we don't quite understand (other than possibly her own reality series), Griffin has received a series of drastic changes through plastic surgery. But the change which interests us most is the Japanese "Ionic" hair-straightening procedure she underwent, to change her traditionally curly cut.

Should Griffin go straight for good? Our six-day poll once again showed Hair Fans prefer that sort of style - as 74 percent of you approved of the change. (45-16) Yet the statements by voters showed a wide range of opinions and division:

"Her natural curls are beautiful."

"Hey, it looks better straight." (Hey, nice to hear from you.)

"I think it looks so much better curled."

"She might want so shorten it up a little as well. It might help to take some of the focus off her honker." (We believe the nose also was "adjusted," as part of her makeover.)

"The red's also better than the copper/bronze color she has now." (We hadn't recalled seeing Kathy's hair that red before - and we wonder if that was due to stage lighting.)

"What about neither! Those bangs are horrible!" (Yet they're probably the key to Kathy keeping the new style out of her eyes - especially with the curls gone, for weighing the long hair down.)

"Lisa Rinna." (HUH?!?!? We hear you, we think. Check the poll above this one.)


Right photo courtesy Entertainment Tonight</>

Can you imagine Mandy Moore with a shaved head? In the August issue of Seventeen, the actress-singer says that's item #1 on her list of "things to do" before she turns 30. That list is in no particular order -- and that's appeared obvious lately. Moore's grown her hair out from neck-length with active bangs to shoulder-touching, as her new film How to Deal premieres.

Moore is one of the most-sought women on our web site's search engines, so we knew a question about her style change would bring a strong response. After eight days of voting, 68 percent of you said she should keep the style shorter. (78-36)

"Shorter goes with her face shape better," said one voter in the majority. "Longer may be better most of the time," another wrote, "but not with that style." But most of the comments encouraged Moore to return to the longer locks of years past. "She should grow out her bangs," one suggested. And we're not sure which side this one is on: "Mandy Moore looks like a baby doll with her hair short." Did boyfriend Andy Roddick leave her a term of affection?


She doesn't change hair colors, like a Serena Williams. She doesn't have a tied-down ponytail, like Justine Henin-Hardenne. And she doesn't have the, uh, build of an Anna Kournikova. But Mary Carillo's hair has caught the eye of tennis fans for years - as the TV analyst historically had a full, wavy style capable of battling on-court breezes.

The Carillo cut has become "slimmer and trimmer" in recent months, on programs such as HBO's "Real Sports." We asked what you thought of the adjustment, and a 62-percent majority in our one-week poll liked it. (20-12) The only person to leave a comment suggested the old look was "too much like a mullet" -- which these days is not considered a compliment.


If someone offers a "Charlie's Angels III" script where the stars turn on each other through some diabolical evil genius, please let us know. We'll want to sue, because we thought of it first -- and you're our online witnesses.

Having outfought the original Angels in a spirited Super-Hair War team tress tussle, we asked which of the new movie Angels would prevail if matched against themselves. We even threw in "fallen Angel" turned cat-fighter Demi Moore to make things more interesting -- and after a tight week-long fight, Lucy Liu's long locks emerged on top. But none of the four was truly overpowering, as Liu wound up with 37-percent support. Then came Moore with 28 percent and Cameron Diaz at 25. Drew Barrymore was never a factor, receiving only 10 percent. (45-34-31-12)

While Liu led, someone else received the bulk of the comments. "What is so special about Cameron Diaz's hair?" one asked. Another found nothing special about it: "Cameron's hair is just dyed, short and limp. Big deal!" To the winner's defense came these words: "Lucy's hair is very silky looking."


A story from the 1970s tells of a group of college guys in New England who watched the original "Charlie's Angels" - well, sort of. One member of the group watched, while everyone else went about their studies. The "lookout" announced whenever an Angel's hair was in motion - and then the whole group turned to pay attention.

People who watched the first-run Angels on Wednesday nights on ABC probably are nodding their heads in understanding. On that show, hair mattered -- from a skateboard pursuit testing Farrah Fawcett's flexing flip, to undercover prison work wearing down Cheryl Ladd's muscular curls. As for the new Angels of movie fame? Well, we wondered.

We staged our first "tag-team" competition of sorts, asking you which group would win a Super-Hair Wars-style showdown. After a one-week slugfest worthy of any movie fight scene, the new Angels slowly emerged triumphant over the original trio with a 57-percent majority (48-36). The comments we received showed a clear generation gap:

"The original Angels are oldie hairstyles. The new Angels are hip and in style."

"How far has Hollywood really fallen when they choose a bunch of brain-dead losers to step into the original Angels' shoes?"

"Kate Jackson's hair looked ridiculous!"

"On Fawcett's hair alone, the originals win!"

"The new Angels are totally sexy and the old ones are not, so that says a lot."

"The new Angels have newer movies; they can do more impressive stunts."


Did we miss something here? Did the U.S. Congress pass a law requiring all pop singers to darken their hair? It sure seems that way -- because a Hair Fan's e-mail tipped us off to yet another one. Jessica Simpson has gone brown recently, though seemingly not as much as Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera.

Once again we asked voters to weigh in on the change, and they were consistent. For the third time, Hair Fans preferred blondes -- this time with a 69-percent majority over eight days. (77-35)

"Man, Jessica looks very beautiful as a brown/brunette," was the praise of one voter. But the majority was not so kind. "The new color goes with a retro 70's style. Why do these beautiful women always choose such outdated styles?" one asked. "It's really too bad that these women are acting like sheep," sighed another. "You go first and we'll follow you." And we're not sure which side this comment is on: "Blondes are dumb and stupid, and look too white!"


Photos courtesy Miss U.S.A., Reuters

When it comes to Super-Hair, it seems we have two camps - the "Curl Club" and the "Straight Staff." How else can we explain our poll asking for opinions on Miss U.S.A. 2003, Susie Castillo?

We noticed the Castillo curls looking noticeably straighter in Panama, as the Miss Universe pageant neared. At first we thought it could be humidity -- but then the Miss U.S.A. web site showed her hair with a blown-straight look as well. It's as if someone told her to try a change. But was it the right change?

When our week-long poll opened, the curl supporters voted as fast as a stretched natural wave bounces back into shape. But about day four, the straight-liners showed up - and they had more numbers. The final score showed 53 percent in favor of Castillo going straight, 37 percent for keeping the curls -- and 10 percent believing she could win the Miss Universe title either way. (62-44-12) Castillo wound up in the "second round" of 15 finalists, but went no farther.

Few people left comments this time, perhaps because the critics of Castillo's curls already had spoken their minds in Super-Hair Wars. "Looks softer and silkier straight," one wrote - a much kinder comment than was left elsewhere about her.


When the country band "Trick Pony" first gained fame, we were stunned by the style of female singer Heidi Newfield. She displayed extra-long curls, which she did a good job keeping under control by throwing them behind the shoulders and using comb-backs. We're admittedly suckers for natural, strong curls - so when we saw posters promoting Trick Pony's current tour, the sight of Newfield with straight hair was quite a blow.

Which head of hair highlights Heidi best? We asked Hair Fans in a six-day poll -- and as happens often here, the "curl club" was outnumbered. A large 76-percent majority want Newfield to go the straight road (39-12). The margin would have been even worse, but the curl supporters bounced back in the last few days -- and you know how marvelous it is to see natural curls bounce back.

"The straight hair looks softer and silkier," one voter explained. "Looks much nicer to run your fingers through." But another person who's seen Newfield in person said, "Her curls were full of energy and stayed in place. She looks hot either way, but I will lean toward the curls."

(For the record: we've seen photos with Newfield's hair defeated straight - but not curly. We suspect the straightness leaves the style more vulnerable to wind and quick moves.)


Right photo courtesy Entertainment Tonight

A few years ago, they were considered dueling pop divas. So perhaps it was no surprise that shortly after Britney Spears turned into a brunette, Christina Aguilera showed off a new dark style of her own. (Of course, she's had so many styles in the last few years that it's been a bit hard to keep up.)

Is black hair better than blonde hair in this case? Hair Fans in our one-week poll thought less of Aguilera than they did of Spears. A resounding 73 percent say Aguilera should be blonde, while 22 percent choose brunette -- and five percent suggest, if we may, finding a "redhead in a bottle." (111-34-8)

"It looks so much better blonde; it's more her," one voter wrote. A few stooped lower with their comments, saying the black hair gives her a "trailer trash.... 'this will go with my purple spandex pants' look." We also received suggestions that Aguilera use only black streaks or "honey highlights" in her hair, instead of going all the way dark. And one voter offered a deeper analysis of all the style changes: "She is trying too hard to be different, and not to be in that category of 'pop star'.... Change is good, but not when you change your look or personality every day."


Right photo courtesy Entertainment Tonight

OK, here's our theory: Hilary Duff is becoming too big a star - the "hot young blonde" of the moment, you might say. That's why we think Britney Spears suddenly appeared in public in New York recently as a brunette. She has to do something to avoid getting confused with that Disney Channel upstart, and "stand out" from the pop crowd.

All that being said, is this new shade right for Spears? For the first time, we asked a color question on the web site - and the 49-percent near-majority in our one-week poll sang: "Oops, she did it wrong." She should be blonde, they say. A 32-percent minority like Spears as a brown-haired women. And a surprising 18 percent chose a third option, which Entertainment Tonight's poll did not offer -- Spears becoming a redhead. (91-60-34)

"She looks so much better with blonde hair and brown highlights!" one voter declared. "She should go with whatever is closest to her natural color," another wrote. A different visitor offered another theory for Spears's change: "She's trying to copy Mandy Moore by going brunette and shorter."

Hairstylist Kevin Mancuso told "E.T." the change was made to launch a "new Britney," because there are so many blonde lookalikes of her. We didn't ask about Spears's new chin-length cut, that went with the color change. But had we asked "shorter or longer," it seems many voters would have wanted the longer look back.

"Yep, she sure screwed this one up," one told us. Several commented the choppier style made Spears look fatter. But another noted this problem would be easy to fix. "Her stylists will probably give her extensions again."


Oprah Winfrey has been a well-watched celebrity for about two decades. Viewers have seen her make admissions about her childhood, win a big lawsuit in Texas, and expand and contract her waistline. But perhaps one aspect hasn't received enough attention - Winfrey's frequent changes in her hairstyle.

Winfrey displayed a loose-curled look on a show in mid-April, explaining it was her "just back from vacation" hairdo. Needless to say, message boards became active - and so we just had to bring the issue before Hair Fans here. Is the curlier style better for her? The strong answer in our one-week poll might be summed up this way: "O, no."

The straighter, possibly permed approach dominated, with a 78-percent majority. (50-14) "Her hair looks like a hair don't," one voter complained. But another liked the change of pace: "Oprah's hair in curls makes her look very pretty."

(We personally agree with the majority on this. Watch Entertainment Tonight long enough, and you'll see Winfrey's straight styles in slow motion - and the thickness of her hair shows plenty of great bounce and control.)


Right photo courtesy Oprah Winfrey Show

Her heart may go on, as she says in a song - but Celine Dion's hair does not these days. The Canadian singer opened her new Las Vegas show April 1 with a surprising style change - not long or even recent mid-length, but head-hugging tight. Perhaps she considers it best for her routines on stage, but is it the best look for her?

We hurried the issue before you Hair Fans, and the early voting went as we expected - heavily against the shorter style. But at mid-week, a rush of votes came the other way. (Perhaps a Dion fan club showed up?!) A final surge the other way put the seven-day count at 51 percent preferring Dion's 'do longer, 49 percent shorter. (149-145)

"Her short hair makes her look dreadful! Grow it back, Celine!" one voter pleaded. "The short hair makes her look old," another wrote. But others took a more moderate tone: "Her hair looked better longer, but it is still pretty...." And one Dion defender said, "I really think that she should leave her hair the way that she likes it."

(What do you think, Hair Fans - is it time to put filters blocking repeat voting on all our polls? We're interested in your guidance on this issue.)


Courtesy E! Online

She didn't win an Academy Award for playing Moxie in "Chicago." She didn't win our Crown Award for Best Hairstyle in a Movie. Yet Renee Zellweger can be comforted by the fact that she claimed a couple of "consolation prizes." Her red dress was judged the best on Oscar Night by Entertainment Tonight. And Hair Fans on our web site have declared her the best hairstyle as well!

Our one-week poll opened as the Awards were underway, and closed with Zellweger leading at 50 percent. Halle Berry had a sudden rush at mid-week to lead for awhile, yet she must settle for second with 36 percent. (Speaking of "sudden rush," did you notice her tight short hair never budged during that passionate kiss by Adrien Brody?) The other runners-up were Salma Hayek (9%), Marlee Matlin (4%) and Susan Sarandon (2%).

While Zellweger won the poll, Berry's pixie cut gained most of the comments. "The coolest," one voter declared. Another asked, "Does Halle go to a barber or a stylist?" The answer is a stylist; Parade magazine had a comment from him one recent Sunday.


Do you recognize this woman? Unless you're a big fan of U.S. "reality television," probably not. Her name is Tonya Paoni, described by Entertainment Weekly as a "twice-divorced mother of five" from Las Vegas. She's a good example of how many Hair Fans would build their perfect head of Super-Hair.

We offered five possible elements for the perfect Super-style, and asked which one you would choose. We were surprised to find layers such as Tonya's came out on top -- preferred by 35 percent of the voters in our one-week poll. The layers came on late, to top the 31 percent who supported "long, straight locks." Trailing were perfect full curls with 17 percent, a perfect wave with 16 percent and perfect bangs with two percent.

The comments about this poll turned into a timeless, classic hair debate: straight versus curled -- and the straight fans dominated the discussion. "You would totally want long, straight locks because then you could practically perfect any hairstyle!" one wrote. A curl critic complained, "They strangle in your face and they are so annoying." To which another replied simply, "Curls rule!"

(For those of you who suggested the top factor should be softness and thickness - you raise good points. We like that sort of hair, too. We were considering the cut and style here, more than texture.)


Photos courtesy Entertainment Tonight

In her new movie "Agent Cody Banks," Angie Harmon plays a hard-nosed, yet voluptuous C.I.A. supervisor. She shows off the long hairstyle which gained her fame on "Law and Order" a few years ago, and won her a 2000 Crown Award. Yet in interviews promoting the movie, things are very different - and her hair is trimmed to neck-length.

Good idea? Bad idea? The Hair Fans voted for a week, and razzed it like no other change we've had. The shorter style received only 25-percent support. (20-60)

"Why do pretty women like to chop their hair off?" one voter complained. "She should have left it alone!!" But another replied: "If she kept it long the she looks a lot younger for who she is!" And there was this intriguing theory about the change: "Maybe she cut her hair to look more like her husband [Jason Sehorn], the most overrated defensive back in the National Football League!"

(Hmmmm - does that make it "helmet hair?")


When we saw the life-size poster at a Christian store, we were shocked. Shocked! There was Jaci Velasquez, a many-ways-attractive young woman known for her hint-of-curl long hair (we're amazed no one suggested her for this web site in three-plus years) -- only she'd chopped her locks to almost punky-looking short. Apparently she did this months ago, but it was most obvious in the promotion of her upcoming "Unspoken" album.

Velasquez is a long-time favorite at The Long Hair Site, so we expected hair-lovers there to be in mourning. But what did fans of Super-Hair think of this radical makeover? We asked you for a week - and the outcome was almost as shocking to us. Most voters prefer Jaci's hair short - 56 percent of them. (48-37) It proves again that Hair Fans can have differing views.

"Longer the better on her," suggested one early voter. "What she has now is not a hairdo -- it's a hair-don't!" argued a late commenter. But in between those came a wave of comments in the other direction:

"She looks so much younger with short hair." (Now hold on - she's old?)

"She looks much more exotic and beautiful with short hair.... although her hair WAS beautiful."

"The new short look will be better once I get used to seeing her that way." (We can relate to this - it was starling at first view, though.)


Let the record show we posted our question about the best hair at the 2003 Grammy Awards before "People" named its choices. The magazine praised the waves Faith Hill displayed as she sang, calling them "all-out glamorous." (We must admit, though, her short-short dress almost distracted us from seeing them.)

Do Hair Fans agree with the New York media? We offered a choice of five Grammy performers, in a six-day survey -- and we're pleased to say every singer had supporters. But after a tight two-way fight and about 100 votes, it was a case of "prevailing Faith." Hill's 36-percent count beat Sheryl Crow's 27 percent. Kelly Rowland may have raised a few eyebrows by coming in third, at 16 percent. She was ahead of five-Grammy winner Norah Jones and Gwen Stefani, with 10 percent each.

"Faith Hill had a sexy, hot look," one admitted big fan wrote. "Faith Hill is the best in the south," another declared. But other women received compliments, too - for instance:

"Sheryl's hair was elegant yet outgoing."

"Norah's hair was great."

"Kelly Rowland is sweet, and plus she's got all those highlights.... Vote for us black folk; we've got good hair too, you know."

(By the way: does our photo from the Grammys finally settle the Faith Hill extender question? She doesn't seem to be wearing any here.)


When we named Sharyl Attkisson the #16 style on our Ultimate 50, the CBS News reporter e-mailed us to say it was "funny." It turns out her usually-tight style has taken some funny-looking turns in the last year or so, coming perilously close to defeat a few times. In a "stand-up" report 12 February, Attkisson was outside in a moderate wind - and while the hair around her right eye blew out and away, hair around the left ear (what we might call the "non-vulnerable side") moved around and forward. A few strands wound up horizontal, above the left eye!

It happened so quickly and unexpectedly that we weren't sure whether this Super-style had fallen in her eyes or not. So for the first time, we asked Hair Fans for help - and it turns out they aren't really sure, either. Our week-long poll brought the sharpest division we've ever had. While 38 percent say yes, Attkisson's style is defeated, 31 percent say no, it's not -- and 31 percent admit they're unsure, so Attkisson should have another chance. (12-10-10)

Few voters left comments about the Attkisson style, except for one who wishes she'd go back to an earlier look which was permed and lighter. For lack of a clear majority, we'll give this Ultimate 'do a pass this time -- but she's had so many close calls that Hair Fans should watch her hair very closely.


Courtesy People en Español, TVChismes

It seems sooner or later, every long-haired woman makes "the cut." In the case of Telemundo talk-show host Marian de la Fuente, at least the cut was not from long to short. It went from quite long to less long -- a bit beyond the shoulders, with seemingly blown-dry flared tips and probably added spray.

We asked you what you thought of this noticeable change -- and one week later, the answer was clear. A 60-percent majority "longed" for the old style, even if usually was kept behind the shoulders and occasionally drooped toward an eye. (39-26)

"You can do much more when your hair is long," one voter wrote. Another pointed us to recent Telemundo pictures, indicating Marian may be growing the style out. But yet another complained, "She looks horrible with long hair." And a major side issue came up involving the de la Fuente look - as a voter opposed her recent dying to a "jet-black."


Courtesy Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Reuters

We know, we know - when a gospel singer is performing, you're supposed to focus on the words and the message. Yet we're quick to confess sometimes we see hairstyles in churches which are attractive. Yolanda Adams has had one of them for awhile -- a head of long hair that's most stunning when it's straight, and kept out of the eyes well either through bangs or careful grooming.

Adams's care with her hair put her in our Top Ten list for awhile. So when we saw her accept a career achievement honor at the "Stellar Awards" 11 Jan with a seriously-chopped crop, we were as stunned as Peter was when he walked on water. We asked Hair Fans what they thought - and our one-week poll finds 66 percent want Adams's style longer again. (29-15)

"I like the way her hair is short," one voter said early. "I would really like her hair longer," a voter said later. "You blew me away with both," a third wrote.


Oh-oh. It had to happen sooner or later - a style change that Hair Fans don't like. The first person on our web site to be ignobly voted down is a 2001 Crown Award winner.

McKenzie Westmore had a year of ups and downs in 2002. Her character on the daytime drama Passions lost her memory, then dumped her longtime lover. In real life, Westmore became married and had a miscarriage. And on our web site, she won the "Best Short Hair" prize from Hair Fans only weeks after falling off our Top Ten list for a second time.

Quietly during the year, Westmore let her well-trimmed locks grow out. They're now surrounding the face and skimming the shoulders, which we decided made the style too long to compete for Best Short Hair again. Our one-week poll found voters are not impressed - as the old shorter look was preferred by a 71-percent majority. (108-44)

"I mean, come on!" one voter declared. "No contest.... she is so beautiful with shorter hair! The long hair just does not look as nice!" Another called the short look prettier and added, "I want mine the same way." But then: "It's nice short, but I like it longer," said someone on the other side.

We thank all of you who take part in our polls! And we welcome any news tips you have on changing celebrity styles. Reach us by e-mail: .

Check the Cutting-Edge polls we conducted in 2002.

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