I write to you from under a short, frizzy, unkempt mullet. I am in an abusive relationship with my hairdresser. She has gone from cutting just a tad too short to completely butchering what had always been my best asset. I know I need to stop going to her, but how can I casually start "seeing someone else" in the hair world? We plan our appointments in advance. We see each other from time to time.
I have been going to "Carol" for almost four years. She's seen me through the short bob with the cascading back to the more recent hip long straight-ironed mane with blunt bangs. It was good in the beginning. We would chat and talk about our kids, and she would have great insight into what my hair needed. Those days are gone, and in their vacancy are the last eleven months of hair torture. She has fried my hair with bleach, and chomped it in eight uneven layers. Time after time, I leave the salon feeling like I had my hair done in the dark.
I will be honest, I have secretly gone to another stylist to fix "Carol's" mistakes. Skulking in the alleyways, I have ducked into SuperCuts to undo the damages. You see, the times that I have brought up my grievances to "Carol" she has made it seem like it's too new, and I am just not ready for the her 'hair improvements'. She's flippant with me, and for our friendship's sake I have avoided stepping up the confrontations.
Help me, Jacob. I want to take off my hoodie. Help me break up with my hairdresser. How can I respectfully tell her, as my friend, that I need to find a better stylist?
-Hairjacked in Hillsboro
You poor thing. I think we all feel your pain. It is so difficult trying to walk that line between getting what you want and the possibly of hurting someone's feelings.
Like any relationship, in the beginning, you and your stylist work together in perfect hair-mony, all candle lit shampoos and walks on the bleach. And oh, how that hairneymoon is sweet. But, too often, this blissful partnership in beauty slowly disintegrates into tension, miscommunication, and emotional hair abuse. And like any battered housewife, you remain silent, hoping that it will get better, as you suffer through golden, brassy highlights and a jackknife coif that would make even the butchest lesbian shudder.
But realistically, when it comes down to it, you are paying for a service and have every right to demand an acceptable outcome. Ultimately the key to any good hair cut is how it makes you feel. I mean, no one enjoys the walk of shame from the salon to your car, your tail between your legs, as you reach for the nearest hat, scarf or paper bag, kicking yourself for allowing this to happen in the first place. And, if upon returning home and styling it yourself you are still not feeling the need to prance around the apartment like a peacock on Prozac, by all means return to the salon or call your stylist and schedule a time in which the problem can be addressed and corrected.
I would like to believe that all good stylists want you to be happy, and in my experience any stylist worth their salt will gladly make any necessary adjustments free of charge. If you are, instead, greeted with nothing but grief and attitude upon making your request, you clearly need to find another stylist in the future regardless. And, like any professional relationship, you need to separate the feelings you have for your friend, from that of your stylist. You are not questioning their skill as a hairdresser, you are merely pointing out that the outcome did not match the expectations that you had going into it. As a friend yourself, would you rather your friends tip toe around you, secretly harboring deep resentment? Or would you rather that they just tell you that they are unhappy? The truth should strengthen your friendship, not hurt it.
Like most situations, clear communication and healthy boundary setting is key. To prevent this from happening again in the future, come into your appointment knowing exactly what it is that you want, with accompanying pictures in hand if possible. Describe in detail what you want your hair to look and to feel like, and have them repeat it back to you to ensure that you are both on the same page. With your hands, show them how long or short it should be, how big or small you want your highlights, and the general shape that you are looking for. If you are, on the other hand, unsure as to how you want your hair, have them give you ideas and then describe to you step by step what they will do to achieve that look, so you can sign off on it.
When selecting color always choose from a sample book. This way if the outcome does not match what you selected it is all the easier to ask for correction. And, speaking from experience, believe me, your idea of "honey blond" and their's might be quite different. And what they call "auburn" might, in the end, be better classified as "Bozo the clown." With color, clarity is key.
If, however, you have tried all of these steps to no avail, and feel that it is time to sever your professional relationship, I would simply cancel my next appointment and go somewhere else. Tell "Carol" that because the two of you are incapable of communicating clearly, and since she has proven herself to be inflexible when you bring up any suggestions or criticisms, that you think that perhaps the two of you are too close to mix business and friendship. Maybe she is too modern or too daring for your more conservative hair philosophy. It doesn't have to be nasty, the two of you are simply not a good fit.
And if the next time you see her at a party she shoots you the evil eye, clearly she is mentally unstable and should not be befriended. Tell everyone you know how incompetent she is, and warn them against seeking out her services. Do not rest until you destroy both her business and her reputation. She needs to understand that hair is serious business, and this time it's personal.
Please send all questions to HelpMeJacob@gmail.com
Please send all questions to HelpMeJacob@gmail.com