When you book a hair appointment, all manner of fairytales begin playing out in your head: You're going to walk out of that salon in slow motion, with your gorgeous hair swishing around you. But what should you say when you hate your haircut or hair color?
What if you look up into the mirror and you have streaks that herald back to 2001 or a haircut that vaguely resembles an upturned bowl? Simply put, what if the exact opposite of what you wanted is exactly what you get? Do you set fire to the salon? Please don't. Do you smile tightly in the chair and wait till you can bawl your eyes out in your car? No need. It might be uncomfortable and awkward, but the only thing to do is speak out and tell your stylist just what's up.
Yes, these situations can be difficult, but you should always try to get what you want when it comes to hair appointments. And it's not like your stylist wants you to be disappointed — they're more than happy to work with you until your vision becomes a reality. In case you don't exactly know what to start with your "Umm, this isn't exactly what I had in mind," talk, never fear. Below are tips from stylists on what to do if you get a color or haircut you hate. Trust, it's not as bad as it seems.
1. First Focus On Preventative Measures
"Locating a stylist you really connect with and somebody you can really trust is a non negotiable to having a happy hair life. After all this is a team effort and it's vital for you to feel open and authentic," Meredith Morris, stylist, colorist, and owner of MAVEN Beverly Hill, shares in an email to Bustle. "Even with the most perfect of stylists you might not love the way your hair turned out post cut or color service. Having an authentic relationship will allow you to be honest."
If after a couple of appointments pass and you still feel like you can't be chummy, it's best to move on and find someone you can be pals with. That's the only way you'll feel comfortable speaking up.
2. Take Their Openings
When your stylist asks you out of the blue, "How do you like it so far?" more often than not they sense something is wrong. Take their prompt and share your feelings — there's probably enough time and room to change things to your liking.
"Being a hairstylist is 40 percent talent, 40 percent personality and 20 percent mindreader. We can usually tell if you don't like something and will give you ample opportunity to voice your concern. When we ask 'how are you feeling?,' 'do you like it?,' or 'is it different from what you were expecting?,' we are giving you the opportunity to say something — we are probably expecting it," Jaymi Van Horne, a hairstylist at Toronto's Good Day Hairshop and with over 10 years experience, explains in an email interview with Bustle.
3. Be Flexible On How To Fix It
While your stylist can definitely get your color to the shade you wanted or play with your layers so they blend the way you imagined, they might not necessarily be able to do that for you right that minute.
"Understand that nine times out of 10, something can be slightly tweaked to give you what you wanted so don't feel bad — but be understanding when it can't be tweaked at two in the afternoon on a Saturday when your stylist probably has six clients after you," Van Horne points out.
So what's a sad client to do? "Opt for a quiet mid-week appointment when all the attention can be focused on how to make YOU happy," Van Horne adds.
4. Don't Lie
While it might be a knee-jerk reaction to slap on a frozen smile and say you love what's going on top of your head, that fib is only going to double the awkwardness and hard feelings when you call back later to complain.
"When a client leaves happy in the eyes of all salon employees and then calls back to complain, that complaint immediately loses it's legitimacy. This IS the service industry but unfortunately this facility isn't licensed to stock fridge full of free dessert to quickly rectify the dizzying display of emotions," Van Horne points out.
If the color was something totally different than you wanted or your bangs are totally wrong, rip off the band-aid and let your stylist know then and there. Calling back a week later when you're good and mad (or leaving a bad review!) isn't going to make a bad situation better.
5. Stay Nice
Remember: The key to fixing anything is speaking up, and nicely! Your stylist or colorist isn't going to look deep into your eyes and know that they should take one extra snip an inch to the left. Just raise a finger, and bring up your thoughts in a cool, conversational way. All will be remedied.
"This isn't a mass produced product you got off Amazon, this is someone's art. Be honest, have a conversation and come to a satisfactory solution. Trust me, if you're nice about it we will want to prove ourselves like an eager second grader," Van Horne reassures. "Some of my most loyal clients have come from a miscommunication in the beginning and it is the positive and open communication that has kept everyone satisfied over the years." Appointments aren't always going to hit a 100 percent mark. If something goes astray, just have a conversation.
6. Fight Back The Tears
While it might seem like your hair is ruined for good, Morris points out sometimes it's as easy as a simple tweak. Try to bite back the tears and see what your stylist can do before you succumb to your emotions.
"Hair stylists are in the service industry and are trained in managing and handling whatever clients throw their way. There's no sense in tears and over the top dramatics, just an honest conversation. What might be a huge deal to you could be a simple tweak," Morris points out. Take a deep breath, count to three, and see what can be done.
7. Don't Go DIY
While it might seem like it'd be easier all around to go fix it at home, that's a bad cop-out.
"Whatever you do, don't panic," Van Horne confirms. "Don't run into the discount salon around the corner that just happens to have room, don't grab the box of darkest brown dye off the supermarket shelf, and DO NOT attempt to 'even it out yourself.' Breathe, collect your thoughts and call the salon to explain your situation, I am betting they will want to help just as much as you want to be helped."
8. See How You Feel At Home
Sometimes it's just the shock of the difference from what you expected and what you got that's making you hate the look. As in, it actually is cute, just not 100 percent what you expected. Morris suggests giving it a day or two to see if that's the case before doing something drastic.
"If you are unhappy and frustrated with how your hair has turned out in the salon my advice is to take a break from the salon. Go home and just rest for a couple of days. Live with your hair and see how you feel. Wash it and see how the color works or how the styling works. More often than not the shock of something new or different has settled and people tend to feel like they overreacted in the salon," she points out.
9. Call Back Within Two Weeks
If you went home and the look still isn't working for you, take Morris' tip and call back your hairdresser.
"Most every salon has a two week grace period where they will tend to your hair needs without additional costs. I always recommend giving your stylist another chance," Morris shares.
It might sound silly, but everyone involved in your haircut wants you to be happy, so don't fret too much. Just keep these tips in mind, be calm and honest, and everything will turn out okay.