Step one: Put down the scissors.

According to NYC-based hairstylist Dhiran Mistry, there are two types of people who sit down in his salon chair: those who know exactly what they want and those who have absolutely no clue. Unfortunately, it’s the latter that usually end up hating their haircut, mostly because it’s not what they expected. Nonetheless, we’ve all been in a situation where we asked for “just a trim” and ended up watching a hunk of hair fall to the ground. Bad haircuts happen. But when you walk out of the salon feeling unhappy about your hair, not only do you want to know how to fix it ASAP, but you will likely also vow to make sure it never happens again. 

Luckily, Mistry has fixed plenty of botched haircuts, so we spoke to him to get his top tips for fixing them. Whether a stylist went rogue and gave you too blunt of a chop or you decided to take matters into your own hands and get a bit scissor happy (we were in quarantine for a long time, after all), remember this: Your hair will grow back. In the meantime, put down the scissors and don’t try to miraculously remedy it yourself. Follow these tips for fixing a bad haircut.

How to fix a bad haircut:

1. Wash and dry your hair straight.

Even if you don’t wear your hair straight regularly, Mistry says that clean, straight hair will show off the cut best and help you easily identify where the problem areas are. However, if your hair is curly or coily, you can skip this step and let it air dry naturally to see how the cut works with the natural texture.

2. Find out what’s wrong and what you don’t like.

Pinpointing exactly what you don’t like about the haircut is the first step to knowing how to fix it. Are the layers too choppy and not blended enough? Is the fringe too heavy or uneven? Did your angles come out too severe around your face? These are all fixable haircut problems that a stylist will be able to work with you on. If it’s something like, “I hate it because it’s too short,” we hear you, but your best bet is to invest in some cute headbands or hair accessories and wait for it to grow out. A temporary fix like clip-in extensions might help ease the pain, too.

3. Gather a few photos of what you wished your hair would look like.

Once you’ve identified exactly what is making you unhappy about your haircut, try to find some photos of what you really wanted it to look like. “Be realistic about the kind of photos you look at,” advises Mistry. “You may bring your stylist a photo of Kim Kardashian and say ‘I want to look like her’ but you have a totally different hair type,” he says. If this is the case, be ready to communicate what exactly it is about her hairstyle that you like. From there, a good stylist should be able to let you know whether or not that is feasible and can probably work with your current cut to come up with a solution to help you get there.

4. Call the salon and ask if they'll fix it.

“You should be able to tell if there is something not right about your haircut after the first or second wash,” says Mistry. After that point, it’s okay to call the salon and ask if they’ll fix it. “No stylist is perfect,” he says. “But a good stylist will work with you on how to make it better.” If you really don’t want to go back to the same stylist, you can make an appointment somewhere else to try to have them fix it; just be sure to communicate what went wrong the first time. You know your hair (and your hairstyling routine) best, so try to keep it simple and be realistic about what you can achieve while you’re in fix-it mode. If you’re not going to blow-dry it every day, say so. That way, your new 'do can suit you and your lifestyle—even if it initially turned out differently than you planned.

5. Accept that it may take time.

Sometimes a bad haircut is best saved by time. Mistry says that a choppy or too-short cut may take a few trips to the salon to get back to normal. "If you come to me with a really bad haircut, I may not be able to get it back to perfect the first time around," he says. "It might need a couple of fixes, or it may need to grow in a bit, and that's just the reality."