By peoplestaff225
Updated April 22, 2003 11:05 AM

There was a homecoming and a new look for “Live with Regis and Kelly” host Kelly Ripa when she returned to the show Monday after being on maternity leave since the birth of her third child, Joaquin, on Feb. 24.

Her hair had grown, and she’s now sporting bangs, the Associated Press reports. Ripa, 32, credited Oscar Blandi, who has a salon in New York’s Plaza Hotel, for the new style. Scott Pepper handled the coloring.

She joked that the key to her looking younger is for her hair to hide as much of her face as possible.

“By tomorrow,” she quipped, “it should all be hair.”

The star, who wasn’t supposed to be back until May, also told cohost Regis Philbin, 69, that she had stopped by the office so many times while she was “off” on leave that none of the show’s staffers was really surprised to see her Monday.

“This is not going back to work,” she said during the show. “It’s going back to vacation. Working is going home … vacation is coming here where I get my hair and makeup done and they put me in a pushup bra.”

Ripa has two other children with her husband, Mark Consuelos — who starred with her on the ABC soap “All My Children.” Lola is nearly 2 and Michael is almost 6.