From Our Readers

Break Up Hair

It is a plague on modern women everywhere. That haircut/dye/perm you get immediately following a break up, getting fired and any other traumatic experience. It is the worst. You always hate it, you leave the salon crying and asking, “Why didn’t someone stop me?” At least that is what happened to me, before I realized I should run these hair decisions past my BFFs.

In college I once texted my bestie “Crisis! Call me!” and when he did, I told him that my boywhatever from college had ended things and I was at Wal-Mart at 11pm, buying a boxed highlight kit. I asked him what color I should buy. Thank goodness his reply was a simple “None, and Ashley, this is not a crisis.” I learned three lessons that day, one, always ask your best friend before you buy boxed dye at Wal-Mart, two, if they are really a friend the answer will be that you should not buy it and three, that apparently hair decisions don’t qualify as crises.

I still think break up hair is an actual crisis. There is this window of time filled with emotional turmoil following a break up during which we cannot be trusted to make our own decisions. It is during this time we need our best friends the most for many reasons, but among them is for someone to put the box dye down, hang up the phone when we call a salon we have never been to and just tell us he was a jerk, but don’t ruin your hair.”

Last year I went through a tough time in my career. I was leaving one job for another and ended up on bad terms with the first employer. It was dreadful and during one tear-filled night I went to the salon to get several inches cut off of my hair. I sat in the chair bawling my eyes out while my stylist repeatedly asked me if I had wanted this haircut prior to that day, she knew that I had not called my besties and was freaked out that she was about to ruin my hair. Thankfully, she did what she thought was right, and not what I asked and I walked away unscathed.

I have not always been that lucky. There have been bangs cut too short (by me after waking up crying at 4am), perms gone wrong (aren’t perms always wrong?), pink highlights (you don’t even want to know) and just all manner of bad, bad decisions.

Last month a guy I was seeing told me I was one of many girls he was seeing and that basically I was the least important of those girls. I immediately wanted a haircut or perm, something to signify a fresh start after five wasted months dating such a jerk. Thankfully, my friends and my mom pointed out that my hair looks fine and that he didn’t deserve to have that sort of control over me. I just wonder what I would have done if left to my own devices, right now I’d probably have dreadfully thick bangs and unnaturally red highlights, to be honest.

We need to break up with break up hair. We need to call our best friends and cry rather than go sit in a salon chair. We need to throw away the outfit we wore on our first date with the jerk if we want a fresh start. We can delete his number, unfriend him on facebook, unfollow his stupid twitter account, passive aggressively tweet break up song lyrics, so many things that just don’t involve ruining our hair. It is not like he broke up with us because we aren’t beautiful, changing our looks does not bring him back, or make him regret, it just has you sitting at work with jacked hair and a head full of too many bobby pins.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am making myself a promise that I won’t touch my hair- previously scheduled appointment or not, within one month of a break up. I just won’t do it, period.

You can read more from Ashley Heffernan on her Twitter.

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  • Ana Raquel Romão

    I’m probably one of the few who actually likes the post-break-up haircuts. So far, I’ve never missed the mark. I don’t play safe, that’s for sure, and I will get the weirdest look ever, but it seems to work for me. Currently: bangs on curly hair. Then again, I don’t have to deal with the world of perms. Still, calling a friend is the best decision :)

  • Mandy Wampole Tietz

    I just recall the dreadful breakup cut on Felicity and the urge passes. I loved that show! :)

    • Stephanie Wagner

      This is EXACTLY what I thought of! Unfortunate that Ben had that much power over her.. but I can’t lie, I have done something similar. Not that drastic though!

  • Natalie Borriello

    Loved this post…I am a BIG fan of the breakover, after an earth shattering heartbreak, there is no better excuse to spend money on new clothes and make up that you have wanted to spoil yourself with previously. Althout I will admit, big decidions regarding your hair should be put on the back burner until your vision is no longer blurred with tears!

  • Liza Baron

    Great post! I once went to the salon for a haircut just after a breakup, and only wanted my normal cut. He accidentally chopped loads off, thus making me the cliche of the girl who changes her style to get over a man!

  • Bonnie Birdsell Williams

    I am this person, except I always referred to it as “major life change hair.” Before I moved from Missouri to NYC in August, I chopped off like a foot of hair for an Emma Watson pixie cut. Mistake. That’s when I realized I had a problem! Great article!

  • Chelsea Oscarson

    So true! Thanks for posting this.

  • Maria Eugenia

    I think it’s just about changes and some changes sometimes start from outside to inside and that’s why some of us start with the hair, it is the easiest part to change. When my mother was in a difficult moment with my dad, she changed her hair color and a psycologist friend asked her: you are changing your hair because you can’t change other things in your life?. Two month later she was getting divorced. Sometimes we need start from the outside..

  • Riana Oppegard

    I have break up hair and I love it. But then again I was planning to restyle my hair before the break up occurred….therefore my hair looks awesome.

  • Ashley Lynn Cook

    Lol! You know I have realized something over the years….Ashleys can be VERY dramatic! It’s just an Ashley thing. 😀 As far as cutting/changing hair goes, I always want an awesome new ‘do when I feel like I need some major life changes. I’ve gone from super long hair (to lower back, no bangs) to a perm, to a shaggy shoulder cut, to a pixie cut, to a short perm, to shoulder length long bangs, you name it lol…and I’ve ranged from dirty blonde, brown, red with blonde highlights and just auburn. I’m always looking for the perfect style that suits my attitude. :-)

  • Liz Haebe

    I always cut my hair when I am dealing with a bad situation. When I had originally moved to Portland, I cut my hair all the time because I was homesick and sad. Thankfully, I haven’t done any major changes, besides bangs, in quite a whole! Great article!

  • Olivia Joan Corbett

    I always cut my bangs right after I go through a tough time. I used to get all my hair chopped off (that trend lasted for about two years), but I’ve really wanted to grow it out for a while, so now I just go for the bangs.

  • Megan Scott

    Whilst upset I cut my own bangs and dyed my hair, I ended up wearing hats for weeks because I realised how awful it was, unfortunately my best friend had been her passive aggressive self and said “I think that’ll really suit you” I can assure you – it didn’t :( great story! made me giggle!

  • Ashley Renderos

    Once my best friend and I got “break up” hair cuts roughly a week apart. We were havin guy troubles lol so WE decided together to get hair cuts and they turned out just fine thankfully but nonetheless dangerous, great article :)

  • Rose Duggan

    I was a blond for like 25 years… and after a bad break up I dyed my hair black, and I LOVE IT! I’m still there, rockin dark locks.

    BUt as far as that super aggressive must-have-a-fresh-start feeling, I know what you mean. I’ve so been there and sadly, I’ve done more self damage than bad bangs. Letting the ex have so much power over us is so not okay.

    I love this article, so funny, well written, and well – real!

  • Christine Fisher

    I agree with the comment above. I think sometimes breakup hair can be great! (Definitely a better option than breakup you-know-what.) After my last breakup I felt like I needed a change and decided to get big ol’ bangs even though I’d never had them before. Now I love them! And they’re here to stay.
    Like a breakup, sometimes you need a hair change too, and you don’t always need to fear either of them.

  • Syikien Oyob

    This sounds like me. Previously when I break-up with my ex, I cut my long hair to a pixie short hairstyle. However, I kind of like it the new “me”.

  • Tracee Alar

    Does pre-break-up hair count? In my case, I got my long wavy hair cut in to a pixie just a few weeks before I broke up with the guy. I loved it so much that I ‘m still sporting short hair over a year later. :)

  • Kerry Coburn

    I was dumped by my fiance a month ago and immediately thought about chopping off my hair. Thankfully my mom and friends prevailed and didn’t let me do it. I have promised myself no big life decisions for six months. Other strange compulsive ideas that have leapt to mind post-breakup: getting a puppy, dating immediately, redecorating entire house and removing all traces of him (to include new furniture, appliances, electronics), etc. I’ve started a list and will look at all these ideas in six (now 5) months from now to see if they still sound like a good idea.

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