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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- With the calendar's flip to December, we face five full weekends of festivities. The big question for those of you who want to avoid a coif crisis: Have you mapped out a holiday hair strategy?
We asked stylists, beauty experts and one local woman on the go for their holiday hair tips. There was a lot to learn, including: Are buns still OK? Why shouldn't you change your hair color during the holidays? And if you have short hair, why is there so much attention on your part nowadays?
Buns are indeed still beautiful, but to avoid looking bookish, allow a few tendrils to fall loose and frame the face. Women with long hair -- whether curly or straight -- can opt to have half their hair up, half down.
"The adult version of this style has a piece of hair wrapped around the ponytail part or a thin piece of patent leather," says Kristin Perrotta, beauty director at Allure magazine.
What if your hair is short?
"Women with short hair should focus on their part," she says.
"Whatever you normally do, part it in a more dramatic way, such as over the arch of the eyebrow."
Styling products such as gel can be used to slick back shorter hair.
And if you prefer to visit a salon, it's a safe bet you'll need to book quickly, even if it's for a quick up-do.
Local stylist Heath Hamilton says one should consider having hair and makeup done at the same time.
"I like to know what a client is wearing so that the look I give her is an extension of her outfit," he says.
Hamilton, who owns Coif Salon in midtown, likes doing fancy twists that are more modern than old Victorian. "Think classic meets rock 'n' roll," he adds.
He says you can get a holiday look in Sacramento for $35 to $50, depending on the salon and the time involved.
The one holiday rule of thumb is to be careful with hair color.
You're busy, so it's not the best time to make huge transformations.
Marcy Cona, creative director of color and style for Clairol, says women often visualize themselves as redheads in December.
"What I suggest is to try on any color first, before doing it yourself or at a salon," she says.
For example, women can visit the Try It on Studio at www.clairol.com and see what they would look like with lighter, darker, blonder or redder hair.
If the root of a color problem is in the roots, i.e., they've grown out, there's Clairol's Nice 'n' Easy Root Touch-Up. It comes in 12 shades and takes about 10 minutes to apply.
"For about $7 you get the coverage with a built-in gloss that adds a sense of volume and shine," Cona says.
No matter what time of year it is, no woman should fight her hair's natural inclinations, especially women with curls. Curly hair has its own personality, and curl expert Ouidad says it looks like you're "wearing a uniform if you blew it out."
For almost 30 years, Ouidad has been teaching curly girls how to embrace their hair, whether it's wavy, coarse, kinky or soft.
"Once you understand your curls, you can come up with holiday styles to try yourself," she says from her home in Danbury, Conn.
"I like to leave a little conditioner in the hair so it's easier to work with," Ouidad says. "The key is to let the curls perform naturally. That means avoiding heavy hairsprays, which can gunk the hair and cause it to look frizzy."
Local fundraiser and actress Anne-Marie Petrie finds that her wavy hair is a blessing this time of year because any style she chooses will hold an extra day or so. That saves precious time washing and drying.
She says she and husband Geoff, president of basketball operations for the Kings, could average three to five social occasions per weekend from now until New Year's. So it pays to be versatile.
"I've found that what works best for me is to maybe have my hair styled in a salon on Friday and then, by Sunday, it still looks good even if the change is subtle, like putting it up or putting it behind my ears," Petrie says.
"Women should be open to trying new dos, too," she says, "because there's always more than one style that you look good in."
Petrie keeps a supply of scarves and ponytail holders on hand, as well as a set of hot rollers.
"Between the cooking, the parties and emptying the dishwasher, we all get jammed around the holidays," she adds.
Perrotta of Allure says it's important to have hair that makes you feel special, without a lot of fuss and folderol.
To find time-efficient and effective styles, Perrotta says, the magazine asked a New York stylist to come up with three evening hair options that required "minimal effort and a mere five minutes."
"We actually timed him," she says. (The three styles are featured in the magazine's December issue under "Fast & Loose.")
"We discovered that the real trick is to have a great accessory," she adds. "A rhinestone clip or a pretty headband automatically dresses up what you're already doing."
For example, to fashion a fancy headband, make a quick stop at a fabric store and pick up about a foot and a half of black -- or colored -- grosgrain ribbon. This works with short or long hair.
Leave hair down or pull into a ponytail.
"Take an earring or clip and bobby-pin it right into the headband," Perrotta says.
Keep in mind, your hairstyle is an extension of what you'll be wearing on a given occasion. If it's a casual event (sweater and pants) consider wearing hair in soft waves or a ponytail. If it's full-on glamour, a soft up-do or elegant bun is best. If you're showing off a piece of jewelry, such as earrings or a necklace, let the bling be the focus, not the hair.
c.2005 The Sacramento Bee