What to Read Next

5 Tips for Breaking Up With Your Hairdresser

August 4, 2014

Photo: Alexander Straulino/Trunk Archive

It’s pretty difficult to go through life without being dissatisfied with a haircut or two. But few take it as far as United States Postal Service employee Rachel Meyers, 26, who reportedly rampaged through her New York City salon after a botched ‘do. “Suddenly this like 20-pound metal box was being hurled at my head, so I ducked and somehow it hit my leg,” one victim told DNAinfo New York. “I don’t think she was throwing it at me, I was just in the way of this crazy scene. I felt like I was in a movie; it was that dramatic.”

Myers was charged with several misdemeanors, including two counts of third-degree assault, but while she certainly reacted in an extreme fashion, she isn’t the first person to end things with a stylist whose technique was less than satisfactory. In fact, breaking up with your hairdresser can be as dramatic—or traumatic—as breaking up with a boyfriend. “When we’re sitting in that chair, it seems more than business,” says Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder of the Etiquette School of New York. “It’s a more personal relationship.”

Elana, a New York-based fashion writer who swears by Japanese hair straightening, experienced her first hairdresser “breakup” as a teenager moving to Manhattan from Miami to attend college. “I went to the same woman in South Florida for my straightening from the time I was 13, up until a few years after I moved [north] for school. She was great and so sweet, but I found a place in Manhattan that did the same thing for half the price and in half the time” she says. “The last time I went in for an appointment, I told her I’d be switching to someplace more local. To be honest, I think the process was harder on me than it was on her, simply because I know the risks that come with chemical straightening and was wary of letting anyone else experiment on my hair.” Ironically, Elana’s mom now sees her old stylist for keratin treatments, so while she may have lost one customer, she gained another.

Not all breakups end so amicably, though. Susan, a New York City-based editor, abandoned her longtime colorist after a series of too-stripey highlight jobs. He wasn’t happy. “A few years later, I was walking across Park Avenue and I saw him coming toward me,” she says. “We met in the island in the middle, he reached out, picked up a section of my hair, and said, “You left me for this?!”, dropped my hair in disgust, and kept on walking.”

The most awkward breakup of all time goes to Vanessa, a Los Angeles-based talent manager. While she still loved the sun-kissed, balayage highlights her hairdresser gave her, she no longer loved him. (They started seeing each other romantically just a few sessions in.) “After several super hot dates, he became too lazy and bratty,” she says. “I even had to stop seeing the guy who cut my hair because I wasn’t going to be caught dead in that salon again.”

Think it’s time to end things with your stylist? Just remember: we’ve all been there. “It’s unreasonable for a hairstylist to expect to keep you as a client forever,” reasons Elana. “Circumstances change, people move and new places are constantly popping up that offer the same services for less, or in a more convenient way. It’s the same reason I don’t feel bad when I switch dentists or doctors!”

But how do you do it? Like all breakups, it’s best to be direct. If you’ve had a longterm relationship with the stylist, it shows respect to them to tell them face to face,” Napier-Fitzpatrick says. “Explain how much you’ve appreciated the past service, but that you’d like to make a change.” The most important thing, though, is that you leave it on a positive note. Because, like many uncouplings, hairdresser splits aren’t always permanent. If you must go crawling back to your stylist, you want her to welcome you with open arms and a kind pair of scissors.

Five Tips For Breaking Up With Your Hair Dresser

1.    First, give him a chance to redeem himself. It’s good explain your frustrations with your hairdresser and let him try to remedy the issues before breaking it off with him entirely. “I think it is really important to say—delicately—what you really want to say,” says Lizzie Post, co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition.

2.    If you absolutely must end things, be direct about it. “Don’t lie. It shows disrespect and makes them feel worse,” says etiquette expert Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick. “Just say, ‘I really enjoyed working with you, but I think it’s time to make a change.’” Adds Post, “Honestly really is the best policy. You shouldn’t feel ashamed.”

3.    Its also okay not to tell your hairdresser that youre leaving them. “You’re a customer, you choose how to spend your money,” says Post. “And you’re not the first person to move on.”

4.    If you do want to fess up, act thankful for their past work. Sending flowers or a thank-you note in addition to telling your stylist face to face is a welcome gesture. It’ll make them feel like their work was valued.

5.    Always be nice! Because you never know when you might run into your hairdresser again. “Wherever you are, it’s a small, small world,” says Napier-Fitzpatrick. Not to mention the fact that you might well be heading back to them in the future. “People often end up going back.”