Hair Watch

When a head of Super-Hair is on display, it's worth watching. When it's on display day after day and in risky situations, that earns special attention. This section of the site has a goal of providing it -- by keeping regular updates on how women with Super-Hair deal with the challenges they face, whether successfully or not.

NORAH O'DONNELL was our inspiration for this section. In late September 2003, NBC News moved this Top Ten style from a Congressional beat to the White House. That should mean more on-air appearances - and live reports outside on the lawn. This delicately placed, soft-looking yet strong-holding sideparted pageboy has years of experience going for it. But Washington winds could give this tremendous style the fight of its life.

(NOTE: Sponsored text ads have been added as of 26 Oct 08.)

All times are U.S. Central:

Mon, 22 Mar: O'Donnell's hair is pushed into her right eye by a wind, and she is ruled defeated. Read details at the Hot List.

Mon, 19 Jan, 8:03 a.m.: O'Donnell is live outside the White House for "Today," and there's a breeze. But it's blowing the pageboy back beyond the shoulders, and isn't strong or violent enough to shake the style off its solid line.

Our weeklong poll shows 73% of Hair Fans want us to surrender to this consistently solid head of Super-Hair. (8-3) So we'll stop the online diary -- but because O'Donnell's in our Top Ten, we will keep watching her.

Tue, 13 Jan, Monterrey, Mexico, 6:05 a.m.: A live report outside for "Today" shows a well-polished pageboy -- with not much teasing, but likely a well-sprayed wall on the left side. (Courtesy TWWL)

MIDDAY: Daylight offers a better look at the style. Her right side isn't tucked back, but there's no apparent wind to require it. It's also a bit curious, because the curled tips are going both directions -- perhaps with only one strip going in to frame the face.

Note she's not afraid to dip her head to check notes -- as the left side hair is strongly in position. Another impressive display. (Courtesy TV

Fri, 9 Jan: A vidcap from a live report for MSNBC (courtesy TV shows surprising looseness on her right side (our left). A few strands are not in line, but they round their way back in at the tips without being totally out of control. The left side is solidly in line, and in multiple sections: one is angled back to the left shoulder, another section farther back seemingly curved back line a traditional pageboy.

We regret we've been unable to monitor O'Donnell's "White House Beat" reports for awhile, because MSNBC is requiring people to download a hefty new version of Windows Media Player. A "Beta version" without such a player appeared on Wednesday, but all it offered us was O'Donnell voice without pictures.

Fri, 2 Jan 04, 7:03 a.m.: The pageboy is unpinned on the prairie, but there's no noticeable breeze challenging the style. The teasing and spraying seems very light around the left eye, but no wind equals no concern. This looks quite tempting to touch, and continues her winning ways.

Wed, 31 Dec: O'Donnell has a Yahoo! group in her honor, and one fan posts a note that she's wearing pins and even a ballcap on camera while with the Bush family in Texas. This fan calls it "very cute." We suspect it's more a matter of defense, to protect her style from prairie winds.

Fri, 26 Dec: Because of Crown Award preparations, we've been delayed in posting some updates. These vidcaps from TV show some conservative looks outside the White House. There's so much back-combing here that for all we can tell, the top of the hair could be pinned. The left side is braced behind the shoulder (but it's not long enough to stay there if a wind blows), while the right side is entirely tucked back behind the ear.

Then for the first time, we see O'Donnell using a headband on her style. Yet from what we can tell, not all of her pageboy is locked down by it; it should be fully pulled back for that to occur. The hair has to rely on its usual measures for full control - and light teasing and side spraying has to be what keeps this look in line.

We've also found MSNBC has changed its web site, so you have to download a brand-new version of Windows Media Player to watch O'Donnell's "White House Beat" reports. Once we have time to do this, those checks will resume.

Thu, 18 Dec, 6:00 a.m.: A quiet morning outside the White House puts no pressure on the pageboy at all. There's a bit of soft curl on the left side, and it prevails easily. (Courtesy TWWL) But later in the day....

Midday: Suddenly this is a carefree-looking loose style. The left side is thrown behind the ear, and the hair seems to have no other support. The right side has breathing room, but tips are close to the chin. All we have is a vid-cap, so we don't know if the wind affected this look at all. (Courtesy TV

Mon, 15 Dec, Midday: A later report in the day finds a breeze from O'Donnell's left to right testing the style -- and it seems weak. A few strands drop near her left cheek, turned the opposite way of the pageboy. It appears only the teased flip at the crown keeps the strands in an oval, not falling in her left eye completely. Her right side is still groomed in well, but the tuck-back is gone.

Our TV partner reports he tried to vid-cap O'Donnell brushing "some wisps from her forehead," but could not. We're anxiously waiting to hear whether these wisps actually made it down into her face.

Mon, 15 Dec: A morning report for MSNBC shows a rather loose-looking pageboy. Her right side is invitingly and precisely curled in -- and yes, there's a well-hidden slim tuck-back behind the ear. The left side doesn't have much teasing on top, and not much spray is evident all around. This shot apparently shows a slight breeze in her face....

Because the angle of the left-side curl is wider, with the wind calm. The left-side strands are no farther forward than the shoulder, perhaps for safety. Not even wintry chill makes this Super-style look bad. (Courtesy TV

Tue, 9 Dec: TV offers a few more outdoor vid-caps on O'Donnell's modified look -- this one from an MSNBC live report in the first week of December. Several levels of hair angled as far back as possible, with no noticeable curl. It sometimes appears a few tips of hairs are loose. So is this style dangerously weak?

Not at all. Here's a great shot from a few weeks before, of a wind attempting to push this look around. It's solidly sprayed, and not one strand seems ready to shear away and go out of line.

Perhaps it's not the most beautiful look for her, but it seems to be her "rough weather" look. Most importantly, it's functional and it wins. Defeating this pageboy seems to require a combination of outmuscling the hair, plus outsmarting and outmaneuvering the woman - and doing all of that at once is quite a challenge.

Mon, 8 Dec: O'Donnell's first appearance in weeks on NBC Nightly News shows plenty of teasing (we estimate about two inches wide) on top, and a bit of extra teasing on the right side of the part to keep that trouble-free. She's showing this "comb-back" look more and more, with only a bare hint of the traditional pageboy curl on the left side. The breeze might blow it back a bit, but that doesn't hurt the style -- and curled tips give a very well-rounded look. (Courtesy TWWL: The Women we Love)

Earlier in the day, a live report on MSNBC shows the style in better light. The top layer may look loose, but she can bend her head a bit to her right without any trouble. (Courtesy TV

Thu, 20 Nov: O'Donnell is on the White House Beat for -- and why she's at the White House, and not battling British breezes with other Presidential reporters, is unknown. Both sides are kept behind the ears, with tips on the left side turned toward the base of her neck. All is calm until:

:37 A left-to-right wind lifts tips a bit, but the style stays secure. Some of the left-side appears a bit over the edge of the ear, but it's not moving.

1:13 The right "short" -side appears to drift off the ear a bit.

1:27 A stronger wind gives the Super-Hair a challenge. The style blows back, and that left edge seems to loosen a bit.

1:29 A sudden "blink-of-an-eye" peak of the gust blows the hair UP above a 90-degree angle in the back, especially on the right side -- but it comes down with a flex, still in line.

1:35 The wind keeps trying to force the hair forward. The left-side tips lean toward her chin and cheekbone, but fall short of them.

1:40 A gust tries again, and the Super-Hair flexes but falls back. Through all this, the hair behind the left ear remains well-secured.

1:44 Strands come up behind left ear now -- but they don't come forward.

2:04 The wind revs up and tries again....

2:09 Hair at the far back, practically behind her eyes, blows forward on left side - but it stops on top of her head.

2:10 O'Donnell reaches for the RIGHT side hair, which is clearly off her ear. A few strands had hit her right cheek, and she obviously noticed.

2:11 The right-side hair is tucked back -- but still a few strands are forward in front of the ear. Meanwhile, hairs from deep to her left side tries to go for the face -- but they fall short by about two inches, and go back in line.

2:16 She dips her head for a question, and we see the top layer on the right is still not secure. A "second level" a bit deeper seems rounded back at the area of the ear.

2:57 After some videotape, the Super-Hair is back behind both ears. There's a slight flexing forward by the wind in the remaining 30 seconds of the webcast, but nothing serious occurs.

SUMMARY: This was apparently a moderately-strong wind challenge, but by using her ears to protect the "meat" of the pageboy, O'Donnell's brilliant style wins again. We're left wondering, though, if the right-side hair someday will be her undoing. It was that way for Campbell Brown outside the White House in 2002.

Wed, 12 Nov, Mid-day: A live report for MSNBC on a damp day in D.C. - and the pageboy seems to have a bit of extra teasing and firmness. It appears solidly sprayed, but it's riskily placed about 3/4-inch from the left eye. All we have to go on is a set of vidcaps, and this apparently is as close as the hair comes to the face; other shots actually have more space.

We're curious about the right side of her style. A close look shows no sign of pins; the closest hair to the forehead seems to disappear, as if behind her ear. It's well hidden and well-controlled.

Fri, 7 Nov: We find five vid-caps of an O'Donnell appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball" October 31. She's outside, with no apparent wind blowing in Washington -- and note the nighttime lighting, where not even the pageboy's shadow covers an eye. A treat, without any apparent need of tricks.

Wed, 5 Nov, 7:05 a.m.: A live report outside the White House shows a quite soft look - with only a small amount of left-side hair folded back a bit below the ear. There's no wind blowing, and this delicate style holds easily, precisely and fabulously.

Sun, 2 Nov: Now the proper "White House Beat" is online - and the picture below turns out to be from the last 30 seconds of the web-cast. O'Donnell begins with the left-side hair behind the ear, but at a sharp downward angle so it looks a bit loose. We keep a log again:

:05 What wind there is seems to blow from her right to left, but the ear keeps hair on that side in line.

:35 The left side dips forward a bit; she leans a little to the left to shake it back.

1:05 Another right-to-left gust, and the left side is starting to droop noticeably. There's little room left for error around the left eye.

1:15 A wind gust comes from the back! Hair in the back flexes forward, but the movement stops at the ears. The hair in front isn't budging at all.

1:22 The left side pushes in again -- and stop-action indicates hair may almost half-cover the left eye! (Or is this a pixilation problem again?) She stands her ground, and the hair goes back slowly and stays in line.

1:45 Another slight gust from back -- but no big effect is noticed.

2:00 After a viewer's question is shown, O'Donnell is seen reaching for left-side hair and pulling it back behind the ear! It was not in the face in the second or so we can see it, before the pull-back.

SUMMARY: It takes more than a slight breeze from the back to bring down this Super-Hair, especially when it's protected by the ears. But obviously she felt uncomfortable with the style; else she wouldn't have reached for it, the first "reach" we've seen on camera. She has another close call, but not as close as Canberra was.

Fri, 31 Oct, Columbus, OH: The photo for the weekly "White House Beat" on MSNBC shows O'Donnell taking no chances -- with hair totally behind the ears on both sides, amid signs of a breeze. But last week's webcast comes up on the screen, so there's a mix-up somewhere.

Thu, 30 Oct: Voting in a special three-day poll is sparse, but unanimous. O'Donnell's 'do was NOT beaten by the close call in Canberra. Hair Fans say she still has Super-Hair, so the watch goes on.

9:10 a.m.: A vid-capped live report for the Today's Show's west-coast audience shows noticeable changes from hours before -- as the vulnerable left side is flicked back behind the shoulder, but not all the way behind the ear. The right side is not behind the shoulder or ear, daringly down and exposed. With O'Donnell, the style is more often the other way around. Was wind coming up to her left, to require this protective step? Without seeing the full report, we can't know for sure. (Courtesy TWWL: The Women We Love)

Wed, 29 Oct, 6:10 a.m.: Her pageboy looks almost exactly like the night before, except perhaps the hidden strands on the left side are a little farther back. There's no apparent wind in this live report, but apparently some rain. White House reporters often stand under umbrellas to dodge raindrops, so that's no issue. And humidity is not a factor, as this style doesn't wilt in the least. No problems this morning.

Tue, 28 Oct, 6:10 p.m.: A "stand-up" outside the White House displays a simple, basic pageboy - with a straight left side angled down at about 90 degrees, and that mysterious strip of hidden hair underneath it coming straight down. No real curl is noticeable. No wind is, either. With no challenge, the style is as precise as it can be.

Terry Moran reported live for ABC News with wind blowing, and his flat hair blew around a bit. O'Donnell was on tape, and her hair didn't budge. Her best showing in a while - with the flawlessness we normally expect from her.

Mon, 27 Oct: Each week presents a White House Beat webcast, where reporters answer e-mail questions. In a report taped 23 Oct (posted online through the 30th), it's O'Donnell's turn -- and she stands outside in Canberra, Australia (shown at left), with a very light-looking flip beginning at the left ear. The right side is down straight. The web site's setup allows a second-by-second close examination of the style, especially in full-screen format.

:06 A slight breeze indicates one or two individual hairs on the left side are loose -- with the tip curling around the left eye, touching the cheekbone!

:11 The hair seems to go back in line on its own -- but those few couple of strands still dangle ever so slightly.

:17 A head shake to the left is noticed. It seems the loose strands are shaped to match the overall pageboy, but they're open enough to turn around with ease. In short, this could be big trouble.

:34 The stray strands are trying hard to drift in toward the face. For a half-second, the stop-action appears to indicate a couple of hairs succeeded in crossing in front of the left eye!

:37 But a gust of wind comes to her rescue, blowing the pageboy back. A strip of hair on the right side comes up at a 60-degree angle due to the breeze. The left side hardly comes up at all, remaining solid.

:48 Despite at least one obvious tilting shake, the strays refuse to lock in line and try to drift in again. Once more a couple of hairs seem to glance off the left eye.

:52 She dips her head to check her notes -- and comes up with a slightly wider left-side strip down ALMOST STRAIGHT -- nearly bouncing in the eye! Another head dip occurs, and there seems to be no harm.

1:00 A couple of "no" head-shakes seem to put things back in line -- but that wider strip looks weak.

1:10 A wind gust similar to the first one occurs. This time the left side comes up more -- about a 45-degree angle.

1:15 Due to wind, the Super-Hair flexes in and out. The left side stays fully in line this time.

1:23 As she lowers her head toward the notes again, we see where the problem is. There's lift at the crown for hair closest to the forehead, and a few hairs apparently have broken free from the sprayed "wall" of the pageboy.

1:25 The head comes up, and the stray hairs bounce up to eye level! They're well inside the eyebrow!! But the curled tips seem to stop just short of the left eye.

1:37 The fight for fractions of an inch continues, yet she refuses to bring up a hand and show she's in trouble by making an adjustment to her Super-Style. Another left shake back of the head occurs -- then another at 1:43 and another at 2:00. The report ends at 2:09, with things seemingly settled down.

SUMMARY: This was easily the closest call we've seen O'Donnell have. It doesn't take much of a flaw to bring down even a top hairstyle. Yet the dips by the stray strands were so quick (and not really noticeable in regular web format) that we're persuaded what we see could be the result of misleading pixilation. Overall, the pageboy in its fullness held -- although it almost was prepared too light for the conditions. For this head of Super-Hair, it's the narrowest of escapes.

SUN, 26 Oct: We're going out of sequence because we've found some noteworthy "vid-caps" of O'Donnell's style in earlier outdoor appearances:

22 SEP: Note a very slight flaw above her left eye, where you can see a fraction of forehead between strands of hair. We don't know if she erred in combing the hair into place, or if her pageboy actually started to droop a bit.

25 SEP: We noticed the strands at the far left of the photo (her right "strong" side) -- which seem to show a double-wave, as opposed to its usual straight-down appearance. Did she add this for the day? Did weather conditions make it kink up and loosen? Any "expert opinions" are welcome.

26 SEP, LIVE REPORT: The O'Donnell pageboy is as close to the left eye as we've seen it -- and the left-side hair closest to the eyes seems dangerously close to a straight-down drop. It appears the Super-Hair has little margin for error....

....but a slight turn of the head reveals there's still a solid line to the style, going back and sticking strongly. The weak appearance may well be deceptive.

In a taped report the same day, we see the right-side hair tucked behind the right ear -- well back and out of danger.

These pictures are also different because O'Donnell uses an out-turn "flip" at the tips, as opposed to an inward curl. We personally think the in-turn looks softer and better for this style, but sprayed ends could provide added control.

MON, 20 Oct, 4:05 a.m., Bangkok: O'Donnell reports live outside, seemingly in a downtown area. The left side of the pageboy appears divided into three sections: one strip going almost straight back on the head, a section angled toward the shoulder, and a third going straight down, a bit hidden inside the other sprayed sections with a touch of curl at the tips.

The wind seems moderate and a bit swirling, and the Super-Hair starts to flex as a result. It blows mostly back, but at one point a swirl seems to bring the hidden third section to the right so it almost touches her chin. We count two slight head shakes to the left for adjustment. For a moment we wonder if her pageboy might be in trouble. Yet the breeze is not strong enough either to push the top two sections far enough back to break the "shell" of the spray, or push the entire pageboy in to the right. The hair keeps plenty of distance off the eyes.

Compared with other reporters in Bangkok, O'Donnell's Super-style does not win the day. ABC's Kate Snow has neck-length hair which refuses to move at all: tight to the head, and seemingly slicked down behind her ears. Yet O'Donnell shows one of her best looks, and it survives a good challenge -- proving again what a great head of Super-Hair she has.

FRI, 17 Oct, 2:50 p.m., Tokyo: Standing on a breezy balcony, the vulnerable side of her hair is quite straight and angled back. The right-side part of the hair is very far back (perhaps deeper than usual), so strands on that side have nowhere to go but straight down. The wind pushes the style back, and only slight shakes of the head are detected for making adjustments.

This was a windy situation which gave other U.S. reporters fits on the air - most notably CBS's Bill Plante, who had a right-to-left breeze from his perspective flop his hair across. But our head of Super-Hair handled it with relative ease, perhaps by changing the angle where she stood. The style looked as if it might have danger, but it never did. Another Top Ten-quality display of hair control. (Vid-cap courtesy TWWL: The Women We Love)

MON, 13 Oct, 3:05 p.m.: Hardly any wind is blowing outside the White House, and the left side of the pageboy has a very loose look to it. That side has one strip going far back, and she has to flip her head slightly a couple of times. She seems a bit uncomfortable, but the style stands strongly anyway.

WED, 1 Oct, 6:10 a.m.: The pageboy is well-teased on top today, and pulled straight back so far you can't see the tips of the left side on camera. Unless there's a hidden pin, it's obviously sprayed into position. The right side has a ball of curl at the end. Apparently there's a small breeze, because the curls flex a little. Nothing else does. This slight challenge is dismissed easily.

TUE, 30 Sep, 6:10 a.m.: It's a quiet morning outside the White House, and our Super-Hair shows no effort in holding. The curl on the left side has a standard solid position. She scores a nice-looking, easy win.

MON, 29 Sep, Late Afternoon: At the end of the day, O'Donnell pulls both sides of the hair behind the ears. The spray seems to be gone, but the wind seems to be as well; the ears keep things in place easily.

O'Donnell doesn't resort to using the ears on TV often, but she can do it with success. "Back-up plans" can work well.

MON, 29 Sep, 6:10 a.m.: Light wind is blowing from behind O'Donnell, but she appears to have prepared for it. The left "vulnerable" side looks more firm than soft, as if extra spray is applied.

Appearing live after her taped report, the breeze jostles right side hair (it appeared tucked back) around and slightly forward - but the hair only twists, falling back in line. The left side seems to fight the wind with only the slightest jostling, but the hair is stiff and stays solid with no strands going out of line. O'Donnell stares intently, never flinching.

A fairly good test - and an impressive showing.


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