Last week’s Jezebel post about breaking up with significant others got me thinking about another crucial break-up topic: Breaking up with your hairstylist.
I’ve been there, you’ve been there: suddenly Jean-Luc just isn’t cutting it (literally) and you wonder if it’s best to slink away quietly, or to have the “It’s not you, it’s me (well, okay, actually it’s you)” talk.
What to do? How to do it? And what if, God forbid, the new stylist you’ve fallen in love with works in the very same salon? (Cue dramatic orchestral music.)
I haven’t always handled this gracefully in the past. Little wonder: I’m terrible at breaking up with guys and horrible at cutting out friends, so it’s no big surprise that I’m similarly disastrous when moving on from stylists. I instead went to 3 top celebrity hair pros for answers. They each had a slightly different take, so luckily, it appears there are no hard and fast rules. Things will also probably be much easier if your old stylist isn’t a thin-skinned diva!
My colorist Amanda George, co-owner of Neil George Salon–and blondifier to Reese Witherspoon–says: “Breaking up with your hairdresser can be emotional and distressing, as we all know, but how to do it right? I think that if you plan to stay in the same salon, you have two choices: be upfront and tell him or her that you want to try someone else and hope that he or she will forgive you (pretty, please!) or make the appointment on the day that they don’t work.
“It happens to the best of us, and in my opinion, it’s far better to tell the stylist than to slink in hoping you aren’t noticed and then avoid eye contact (how big can a salon be?) Email is probably the least uncomfortable or a little note is classy. But absolutely, breaking up is always hard to do.”
Suave Professional Celebrity Hairstylist Luke O’Connor says, “Sometimes it can be best just to slink away…It really depends on the reason you left. Personally, I would want to know. Corrective criticism is the best lesson. But if you do confront the stylist, don’t expect him or her to go down without a fight. If you had a good relationship with the stylist, it would be okay to tell them you found someone else – an e-mail would be sufficient.
“And what if you’ve found another stylist in the same salon you like better? As a salon owner, I see this all the time. I try to encourage this, rather than allow the salon to lose the client. Most of my stylists feel the same way. I do feel the stylist that’s been left deserves an explanation, even if it’s from the new stylist the client went to. The bottom line is that we are all adults, and we can look at the change as a lesson to grow from.”
Tracey Cunningham, co-owner of Byron & Tracey salon and Redken creative consultant, says: “If you’re unhappy with your stylist or want to try someone new, GO FOR IT! You don’t owe your stylist an explanation and should not feel badly about it – it’s your hair and you’re paying to have it done. If you try someone new in the same salon, just let your current stylist know that you’d like to try someone new and they should be understanding. In our profession, we have a certain way that we work and sometimes one person’s style may work better than another’s.
“A key to remember is that it is a relationship akin to all others – communicate and be honest with your stylist. You hire us to help you, so we want to do our best. If you don’t like something, let your stylist know so that they can do their best for you. Don’t be afraid and have fun with it!”