We’ve all been there. Somehow the phrase “Just a trim” turned into “just on a whim.” The haircut that began with an innocent “Whatever you think” ended up with a guilty “What was I thinking?” Maybe you’ve had to hear the most disheartening phrase of all: “It’ll grow.”
There is no guarantee you and your hairdresser will magically mind-meld to conjure a thrilling result. It takes work. It takes time. It takes communication of the clearest kind. But sometimes things go wrong – and the truth is that the fault probably lies with you both. Here are ways to make things right.
Communication is Key.
Stylist Julia Elena says, “I never take it personally when a client doesn’t get what they imagine. I chalk it up to a miscommunication somewhere along the way.” To avoid being disappointed, make sure you’re both on the same page. Bring photos of your own favorite hair moments or anybody else’s, as long as your expectations are realistic. Be specific about which aspects you are drawn to, as well those you’re not. But be realistic about possible retouching and artfully disguised hairpieces.
The time you spend in a consultation isn’t just social chatter. The more your stylist knows about your lifestyle, your fashion sense, your grooming preferences and skills, and your hair idiosyncracies – even if you’ve been together for years – the more likely you are to have a result you can actually live with.
And are you sure you really know how long an inch is? Just asking, because some people actually don’t. As a point of reference, it takes about two months for hair to grow an inch.
Stop Right There!
The minute you’re uncomfortable with what you’re seeing in the mirror, don’t grin and bear it. Speak up and give the stylist a chance to explain their actions and readjust if necessary. When it comes to cutting, what’s done is done. But don’t be a jumpy Judy; sharp objects may be mere inches from your face.
So the cape has come off, you’re holding the hand-mirror, and this is the moment you’re supposed to beam with joy and gush undying love for such a creative genius. But instead, you feel hot and prickly, your lip is quivering, and your heart is falling through the floor. Instead of mustering a frozen smile to mask your true feelings, take a deep breath and be honest. Be specific. A simple “I hate it” won’t get you anywhere near “I love it.” Resist the urge to brand it a “bad haircut,” and reframe it as “not me” to lessen the venom.
Best to work it out on the spot rather than going home and letting your resentment build toward a scathing online review or righteous phone call. Keep your cool to avoid creating a heated situation. Stylist Jennifer Covington-Bowers appreciates her clients’ loyalty and says, “Sometimes I don’t meet expectations, and I deal with it graciously and make adjustments.” It’s simpler than we often assume.
Your stylist can probably adjust the proportions of a cut you imagined, but they might not be able to do it for you right that minute. Be understanding that there is a schedule to be kept, and you may have to come back another time to put things right.
Maybe you weren’t so sure how you felt in the chair, but don’t try to fix it yourself with sewing scissors. Collect your thoughts and call the salon to explain your feelings and give them a chance for a do-over. They want to help just as much as you want to be helped. Haircutter Wes Sharpton assures us that he is quick to put his ego in check, and says, “We want people to love it, but we can take a step back and ask, ‘What can be learned?’ I always welcome the opportunity to be better.”
Give it Time...
It is possible that you are simply shocked by something so new. Express your feelings, but go home and live with it for a day or two. Wash it and let it dry. Experiment with styling options. See how it behaves under various conditions. If you still hate it, so be it, but allow for the chance that you’ll welcome the change.
...But Not Too Much Time.
There’s a fine line between a correction and a brand-new service. Resolve disagreements within a two-week window to avoid paying twice. And be honest: If you decide that bangs are a bust after all, or if you insisted on a little trim when what you really needed was a big chop, that’s on you.
Tipping for a redo is entirely up to you, and should never be expected. But consider that your stylist is taking extra time without extra revenue, so acknowledging that is a thoughtful gesture. If it’s a 15-minute touch-up, no more money need change hands. But if it becomes a 45-minute session, open your wallet a bit.
Unless your experience was a disaster at every level, don’t rush to another hairdresser for a fix. You won’t only be paying for it, you won’t be giving the original stylist an opportunity to make things right and to talk it through again. “It’s like a first date,” says Julia. “Sometimes you need a second one to know if you’re right for each other.”
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So, the customer is always right – unless you go about it all wrong! Hairdressing is an art as much as it is a science, and as they say, results may vary. Remember that your cut is a bespoke experience and a creative collaboration between you and your stylist – who is every bit as invested in your happiness as you are.