We’ve all been there. Somehow the phrase “Just a trim” turned into “just on a whim” and now you're anxiously brainstorming ways to fix your horrible haircut. 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.”
Let's face it, you miss your precious strands. Maybe you opted for a cheap haircut with an inexperienced stylist or barber and your hair is looking choppy or uneven. Or maybe a miscommunication led to a trim that was shorter than you wanted. Or maybe the stylist cut your hair exactly how you’d asked but it doesn't flatter your face shape or look nearly as good as it did in your inspo pic. Whatever the reason, you hate your hair, so here’s a few tips for fixing bad hair day(s)!
Communication is Key.
We know it can be scary and intimidating, but sometimes the best way to fix your bad haircut is by communicating directly with your hairdresser. 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. Explain your ideal hairstyle and why this cut didn't meet your expectations. Make sure the stylist has a very clear idea of the aspects you want fixed. Have your stylist walk you through exactly how they plan to fix the trim.
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 idiosyncrasies – even if you’ve been together for years – the more likely you are to have a result you can actually live with. For example, maybe your dream look was a short, low maintenance cut, but in reality, that short cut won't be so low maintenance for your curly hair. Maybe it will take a lot of time and hair products to make your new 'do look like the model in the photo. Make sure your stylist is aware of your needs and desires before taking another pair of scissors to your locks.
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!
So maybe what's been done has already been done, but take this lesson into the future: 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... And Try New Hair Products and Styles
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 your hair and let it dry. Experiment with styling options. Don't underestimate the power of product - hair styling products can completely transform a bad haircut. See how your locks behave under various conditions. Spritz some dry shampoo or texturizing spray for added volume. Try it straight. Try it curly or wavy hair. Always wear your hair down? Try wearing it in a ponytail or bun. You might be surprised how easy it is to revive an "ugly haircut." 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.”
Work On Getting Your Hair Healthy so it Will Grow Faster
If all else fails, the best thing you can do is work on getting healthy hair so it'll grow back faster. If you're so desperate to get your hair to grow longer that you never trim those split ends, you are in for a long, disappointing waiting game. Get regular trims. Ditch the nasty chemical-filled shampoo and opt for a hair wash that's actually good for your hair (like New Wash). Avoid unnecessary heat where possible (we know what you’re thinking, maybe your curling iron is the one thing keeping you from absolutely hating your haircut), but try to taper back on heat where possible - like opting for air dried hair instead of a blow dry. And don’t forget to use a thermal heat protectant when you do use heat.
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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.