Kate Allen
July 10, 2014 9:24 am

I’m sure you’ve heard girlfriends say, “I have to break up with my hairdresser.” We use that term to describe this decision and action because it often feels like breaking up with a significant other. Think about all of the secrets and intimacy someone shares with their hairdresser. It’s truly the ending of a relationship.

Unfortunately, some hairdressers don’t take the relationship as seriously as they should (or they let the love fade over time) and that gives you a reason to want to stop seeing them. I’ve had new clients in my chair who have broken up with their stylists because they stopped being able to give them what they wanted and had gotten lazy. Or when it came time to change their look and style, the stylist didn’t know enough about modern techniques to accommodate. There’s even been a lack of professionalism, time commitments and attention to detail.

It’s OK to Make a Change

Whatever the reason for making this big change, my best advice would be to trust your intuition. When you pay for your hair services, you are paying for a few different things. You should expect quality work, a comfortable environment, a friendly and open stylist, a guarantee on work performed and honest communication.

On the same page, you also have a responsibility to state what you want. If you are unhappy with your hairdresser because she’s not giving you a look you love, but you always tell her to do what she wants, the problem could just be more communication on your part.

Generally, if your gut is telling you that you are missing something, it’s up to you to change it. And even if you can’t point to a great reason, but you just feel like something doesn’t feel right, acknowledge it. I’ve had a client break up with me just because my schedule was too hectic to align with hers and after a few difficult attempts, we both knew it was too much of a headache to work it out. And I certainly didn’t want her hair appointments to feel stressful. Not every reason is a negative one!

If You’re Not Totally Ready to Make the Break

When it comes to actually pulling the plug, there are a few ways to do it. If you are still on the fence as to whether to cut ties or not, you should go see your hairdresser one last time. I would email or call her ahead of time and ask her if she could set aside a couple minutes before the appointment for a detailed consult with you. During those few minutes, explain to her what you’ve been struggling with and let her know that you love seeing her, but if you continue to be unhappy with the results that you are paying her for, you’ll have to find someone else. Saying this in a calm, easygoing manner will let her know you expect results, but are willing to give her a chance.

If from there, things still don’t change, then you’ll have to move on to the big breakup. Or if your reason for making this decision is more about her personality or lack of professionalism, you’ll want to just move to the break-up phase completely.

If It’s Really Over

I would advise email, though a phone call could work just as well if you have a hard time speaking through written word. I would stress that this is important because if you just stop making appointments, your hairdresser will definitely wonder where you’ve gone. And if you can be open with her, hopefully she can take that and use your feedback to improve!

What You Should Say

In your email, I would leave out any details or complaints that aren’t effective and helpful. Just tell her in a few sentences that you feel you aren’t on the same page when it comes to whatever it is that’s causing you to leave and ideally, you’d like someone who pays more attention to those things. If you’d like, you can also speak to a couple things she does really well and thank her for the time she’s been servicing you. Be specific, short and honest.

What Happens Next

It’s fine. As a hairdresser, I’ve been broken up with a couple times. Like I said before, once it was a schedule issue. One time it was because I moved salons and had to begin wrapping appointments around each other (having one client processing while you apply color to another client) and she felt I wasn’t paying enough attention to her anymore because she was used to me chatting with her during her processing. But the funny thing is, usually when someone has a reason why they choose not to come back, I know about ten hairdressers that I could send them to who would be perfect. Almost every time this has happened to me, I’ve been able to send that client to someone who has a more open schedule, who works late during the week or specializes in red or curly hair. Just another great reason to be open and honest about what you need!

I’m convinced there’s not one person who can feel comfortable when breaking up with someone. And when that someone is your longer-term hairdresser who knows you better than your sister, it’s even harder to figure out how to say goodbye. But if you can use these tips and go about fixing this situation in a loving and professional way, all parties involved can benefit. You can get access to the perfect hairdresser through referral, your current hairdresser can learn exactly what she’s done that hasn’t been making you happy and she can use that information to improve her skills! And even better, if you happen to cross paths down the road (or even get referred to someone else in the same salon), you can rest assured there will be no awkward tension or hard feelings. Just a whole lot of winning for everyone!

(Image via Shutterstock)