Does your 'do work for you? You don't have to settle for the same old hairstyle. In fact, say celebrity hair stylists Oscar James (clients include Vanessa Williams, Halle Berry, Tyra Banks) and Derrick Scurry (Regina King, Tomiko, Loretta Divine), mane options are endless these days. For example, in the January 2001 issue of ESSENCE magazine, the article "Altered States" provides guidance on how to go from relaxed hair to a variety of natural styles. But before you take the plunge, Oscar and Derrick offer this advice: Determine your lifestyle (corporate professional, stay-at-home-mom) and hair type (wavy, straight, curly, fine, course). Then learn to appreciate and work with what you have. To help you decide whether it's time for a new look, answer yes or no to the following questions:
Does your current hairstyle make you look older?
Does your lifestyle leave you with less time than you need to maintain your hairstyle?
Are you interested in versatile looks, but feel that your current style locks you into one look?
Do you spend more time than you'd like in front of the mirror "fixing" your hair?
Have friends and family actually encouraged you to try something new?
Has you hair begun to weaken or break because of continuously styling it a certain way?
Do you work in an office culture that allows for less conservative styles?
Have you worn the same style for longer than five years?
Do you wear the same style regardless of the occasion?
Do you envy the styles of friends, family or women on the street?
If you answered yes to at least five of these questions, it may be time to try a new 'do. Below, our celeb stylists offer some suggestions:
Consider natural 'dos. The season's best hair trends are low-maintenance natural styles like two-strand twists. "There are so many different ways to get them," Derrick says, "and in different layers and colors, long or short -- enough to wear it up in a ponytail."
Keep lifestyle in mind. If you work in a corporate environment but don't have time for high-maintenance hair, consider a short natural. Dreadlocks are another option for the office; just pull them back in a chignon. You can do the same with a naturally curly mane, he says. Texturizing is an option too, Oscar says, if you want to keep your look natural but need more curl control.
Take a risk. If you work in a creative field or dress-down setting, Oscar says, you can be a little more flamboyant with your style, like a "straw set" -- wet hair wrapped around straws and set for a uniform spiral effect. And if you decide to get add-on hair, make sure it's believable, Derrick advises.
Try a wig. "Find someone who has the cut you love, and take a wig in and have it cut especially for you, by that stylist, rather than jumping in and getting your hair cut," Oscar advises.
Whatever style you choose, it should be one that's fun and manageable, Oscar and Derrick advise. Remember: don't get stuck in a new style either -- continue to update your look with regular visits to the salon, highlights or color, and an eye for the next trend.