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If Carrie Ann Inaba, 40, were to critique her hairstyles from her early days as a dancer, few would earn high marks from this eagle-eyed Dancing with the Stars judge. And what a medley of looks they were -- from thick and jet black on In Living Color to boldly bald for Madonna's girlie show, Live Down Under, both early in the 1990s. Today Inaba giggles at these extremes and grimaces at the memory of growing back her hair after touring with Madonna. "My hair grew up and out, so I looked like a Chia pet for quite a while," she says. "I also realized just how much we hide behind our hair. And, as a dancer, hair is very helpful. It accentuates movement, like fringe on a dress."
Years later Inaba drew on these experiences as well as her innate hair know-how to shape her long, versatile style on Dancing with the Stars. "Hair is a lot like choreography, which is all about framing," she says. As such Inaba's naturally wavy hair can be seen in sleek, strategic layers to accentuate her high cheekbones or smooth and pulled back to show off her willowy neck.
The details of these looks matter to Inaba, but she's also influenced by the Hawaiian aesthetic of natural beauty (she was born and raised in Honolulu). In fact, during her rare time off -- Inaba costarred in the TV show Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann with fellow Dancing with the Stars judge Bruno Tonioli earlier this year -- "It's either in a ponytail," she says, "or it's messy and kind of wild, like I just got off the beach in Hawaii."
With the right styling, Carrie Ann Inaba's many looks can be yours, no dancing required.
1. Sleek waves: A heat-protecting spray, such as Dove Intense Damage Therapy Heat Shield Spray, $3.78, protects hair from the double heat whammy of the blow-dryer and curling iron. Blow-dry hair straight first and wind it around a 1-inch curling iron afterward.
2. Smooth and pulled back: A light mist of shine spray, such as Pantene Relaxed and Natural Intensive Oil Sheen spray, $4, is an ideal finishing touch for a classically simple ponytail or updo.
3. Naturally messy: Give your hair the conditioning break it deserves by dabbing pure oil on parched ends. Try: Desert Essence Jojoba Oil for Hair, Skin, and Scalp, $7.65.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, June 2008.