I need to break up with my hairdresser

Like many women, I have a tendency to be a bit of a people pleaser. I don’t like making people upset, and sometimes I have trouble saying ‘no.’ This is a problem when you’re in the hairdresser’s chair.

My hair has a chequered past. I have something of a square jaw; indeed, in most photographs I look a lot like Rutger Hauer chewing a toffee. I am also shortsighted and grew up in the time of Weezer, so I wear thick-rimmed squarish glasses. I also have my lower lip pierced with a vertical labret. I also have a tendency to make rash, emotional decisions about my hair. The thing is, with a face shaped like mine short hair always looks, well, a touch mannish.  As a result it feels like I’ve been spending years trying to grow out past mistakes, so I don’t end up getting my hair cut that often.

Since I moved to Melbourne I’ve had two hairdressers tend to my growing mop. One mercilessly cut my fringe to only a few stubby centimetres, giving me the look of a Victorian fever patient or lunatic asylum inmate. The other I’ve been going to for around six months, and when he’s good he’s very, very good, but when he’s bad he’s awful.

For instance, after telling him at length about how much I hated short fringes, and how traumatic it was to get a short fringe foisted on me, he…. went ahead and cut a short fringe. After I panicked he pulled some longer layers over the top of it, but still.  Another time I toyed with the idea of getting slightly darker lowlights in the bottom sections of my hair, but decided not to. He insisted that lowlights would look incredible, and foiled away. When they washed out I had a head full of dreadful, suburban mum looking dark brunette lowlights with bright, ash blonde highlights. I couldn’t be polite. When he pulled me in front of the mirror I blurted ‘what the hell is that?’ He fixed it the next day, and when he was done it was beyond perfect, but I just can’t take it any more. It’s been so long betwen haircuts that I’m beginning to look like some kind of glam rock silky terrier. This afternoon I’m going to see someone new.

I am, however, going to learn from past mistakes.  A consistent factor in all my past hair disasters has been a failure to communicate. Through trial and error, I now know what the main hairdresser communication problems are and how to prevent them.

  • Go in with your hair washed and styled the way you normally do it. That way you can show your hairdresser what’s working, what isn’t and why.  For instance, I like the length I’m finally getting, and my colour, but I’m not crazy about the Pat Benatar direction the front layers are taking.
  • Don’t be afraid to bring in pictures, or to mention celebrities. I love Marianne Faithfull’s hair. I love Zooey Deschanel’s hair. As a wavy-through-curly haired blonde, I love the venerable Sarah Jessica Parker’s hair. Tell your hairdresser what you love and why, and they should get a better idea of your sort of aesthetic.
  • Own your prejudices. I hate short fringes. HATE. THEM. I also hate contrived, hairdressery looking highlights and mullets. Don’t be shy about what you despise. If you don’t speak up, there’s every chance you could walk out with the mid-90s layers of your nightmares.
  • Be honest about your habits. Here is how I style my hair. I shower, towel dry, scrunch through some product and then leave the house. It’s literally the only way I can get my curls to cooperate, and I won’t let any hairdresser tell me otherwise. I need a cut that will look good when I style my hair the way I always have. If you’re not a blow-dry person, or a flat iron person, or even if you are, say so. Your hairdresser needs to adapt to your needs.

Well, I’m off to be the most demanding client in the world now.


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