The Best Ways to Break Up with Your Stylist
Breaking up is always hard, especially if you're leaving someone who you've trusted for years ... with your hair.
There are countless stories of women—and sometimes men—avoiding the hair salon after letting a years-long relationship fade away. But simply disappearing doesn't help the stylist in any way, how can they correct a mistake if they don't know they made one? Plus, it can make you seem like a bit of a jerk. So in hopes of finding better closure, we contacted a couple of stylists for their advice on the best ways to break up with your stylist.
The takeaway? It's no fun for them, either, but they recognize that sometimes things just happen.
"I love my clients and have formed many relationships along the way," says Laura Goddard, who owns Laura Goddard Style in Atlanta. "This is a very personal field to be in. [But] I try not to take it personally when people leave."
So if you absolutely must leave your stylist, here are the best ways to break up with them:
When You're Just Incompatible ...
Let's say the client doesn't clearly communicate what she wants. Maybe the stylist misunderstands her instructions. This incompatibility leaves everyone feeling unsatisfied, and in a worst-case scenario, the client ends up with a bad haircut or a botched color job.
Lots of people would feel justified moving on without another word. But the pros ask you to address it because the stylist might be able to resolve the issue—or recommend a peer who can.
"A stylist could gain insight on the fact that they may be inexperienced in a certain aspect of the hair world, and realize they need more education," says Dillon Spranley, an educator at Chicago's Toujours Spa & Salon.
Plus, if you go back to the same hairstylist (and generally the same salon) for a fix, you won't have to pay for a new haircut or color, potentially saving you a couple hundred bucks. Hair salons are first and foremost customer-service businesses, and they generally try to do what it takes to make the client happy.
If you're still absolutely sure you want out, then Dillon recommends sending a note wishing your stylist well. She doesn't recommend making a scene.
"The worst ways a client could break up with me would be to insult my talent in front of another stylist, or to ... scream about being unhappy instead of allowing me to come up with a solution," she says.
When You're Being Torn Apart ...
Most often, stylist-client relationships end due to routine circumstances: the client moves, prices go up, the stylist changes salons or switches her hours. The pros agree that they vastly prefer this kind of breakup, as it's heartening to know it has nothing to do with their skills.
Even so, it's a courtesy to drop by the salon or leave a quick note. That way, running into each other later can be a pleasant experience, much like your old chatting sessions in the salon chair. "For some [ex-clients], we sit and catch up," Laura explains.
When You Want to Come Crawling Back ...
Sometimes your flirtation with a new hairdresser doesn't end well, which is all the more reason to keep it civil with your former stylist.
"I've had clients that just wanted someone closer [to them], but then decided to come back because they valued my services," Laura says. "If someone decides to leave for any reason, I always tell them that they are welcome back anytime."
Dillon advocates honesty in these situations so that stylists know whether they need to alter their approach. In one case, though, she learned she wasn't the problem: "My male client started dating a hairdresser and began getting his haircut for free—no one passes up a free deal. And then when they broke up, he came back to me."
When It's Not Them, It's You ...
Lest you think that you're immune, know that stylists are willing to dump you, too. Dillon once ended it with a client who kept coming back even though they always left unhappy. And Laura says that she would call it quits if a client were a routine no-show.
Above all, everyone involved should value politeness. "The relationships between a stylist and a client are much like an intimate relationship," Dillon says. "If you end it nicely, then seeing them on the streets won't be as awkward."
How to Find a New Hairstylist
Now that you know the best ways to break up with your stylist, how do you go about finding a new one? There are a couple approaches you can take:
Ask around: Maybe you admire a coworker's hair or always love how your friend looks after she's been to the salon. If so, ask them who they go to. You may even be able to take advantage of a referral program that gives new clients a discount and the clients who referred them a discount, too.
Scroll through Instagram and Facebook pages: If you've found a salon you're interested in, check out its social media accounts. Savvy salons post pictures of their work to let prospective clients know what they can do.
Get a Groupon: Using a Groupon is a great way to test out a new salon without paying full price. Be sure to mention that you're looking for a new stylist, so the salon doesn't think you're a one-and-done customer.
Groupon Salons with Great Reviews
If you do want to use a Groupon but aren't sure which one to buy, check out one of these salons with hundreds of great reviews:
Ruby Room in Chicago: "Loved the ambiance of the place, lots of cool trinkets to browse through. My stylist Theresa listened to what I wanted and gave me the best bangs I've ever had. Loved our conversation throughout the cut too!" – from Katherine E.'s review
Tokuyama in New York City: "I came in for a new look and brought a photo of a style I liked. They patiently sculpted my hair, chopping six inches off and layering with such attention, continually referencing the image I brought in. Felt really special. Love the new look!" – from Tanya K.'s review
Rayna Hair Artistry in Los Angeles: "Reyna is the COOLEST!! I got the full package Groupon deal for a balayage, gloss (toner), and cut. What can I say? I am BEYOND happy with the results. ... Reyna really knows what she's doing to the point where she is practically a hair psychic! ..." – from Britney T.'s review
R Salon in Phoenix: "What an absolutely amazing experience!! Shawn did such a great job with EVERYTHING, my color, my cut, and making it feel SO much healthier! Never could I imagine I would've got such an amazing experience at such an amazing price!! ..." – from Heather R.'s review
The Color Studio & Salon in Dallas: "I knew when the people told me that I had Wesley as my stylist I was golden. You see I been looking for a stylist and this was my first time [using] a Groupon lol and it paid off. ... He will be my new stylist from now on. ..." – from Genie R.'s review
Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.