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Britney's Dark Side

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What about bob? On April 17 Britney Spears shocked fans when she got her hair styled in a brunette chin-length do. “I just said, ‘Can we please cut all my hair off, pretty please?’ And they just cut it to my shoulders, and I feel so refreshed,” says Spears. “I think it makes life so much fun to change up things…. When you grow as a person, you grow as an artist too.”

Bad-hair days: Though her third album went multiplatinum, it sold less than her first two. She’ll have a chance to burnish her image with a new album, due this fall, and she’s attached to star in an upcoming racecar movie.

New highlights: While recording the album, she has been bouncing between New York City, Los Angeles, her home state of Louisiana and Texas, where she was all smiles while taking in a NASCAR event with her mom and sister. On March 31 Spears won $25,000 at the Palms casino in Las Vegas, where she hung out with hotel tycoon George Maloof. “That started all the crazy rumors that she was dating him,” says a friend, “but he was just hosting her and her friends.”

Washing that man outta her hair: As for that other guy, Spears swears there is “nothing new, nothing going on” with Justin Timberlake.

Letting her hair down: Lately, Britney is kicking back a little, cutting down on the intense workouts and switching to yoga (“my muscles get smaller, and I look tinier, and when I work out a lot I get kind of bulky”). She’s trying to stick to a fish diet, although she does indulge her addiction to chai tea latte. “I’m at the stage,” she says, “where I’m very low-key.”