That Awkward Moment When . . .

Hair stylists are kinda like boyfriends. It takes a while to find a good one; but when it’s time to move on, you hope you’ll never have to see him again.

I had a hair stylist that I went to for years. Not only did she do a good job on my hair, but I enjoyed her company on my salon visits. She was a woman about my age with kids. I loved how relaxed and down to earth she was, and since she owned the shop she didn’t get all glammed up to cut hair. She was someone I would have easily been friends with if she was a neighbor or a coworker, and over the years we got to know each other well. Eventually she took a job as a sales rep for L’Oreal, and she closed up shop. She arranged to have a chair at a local salon for two days a month in order to continue to service a group of faithful clients, so I followed her there.

Because she was trying to fit a week’s worth of appointments into one afternoon, I often ended up hanging out for hours in a room full of women all there for the same reason. We would sit around with hair wet or in foils, chatting about the things that all women chat about at the salon. It reminded me of a modern day Steel Magnolias, and I actually enjoyed the camaraderie.  Unfortunately my husband soon got fed up with me being gone so long on Saturdays, and I was beginning to want a fresh perspective on my haircut so I went in search of a new hair stylist.

I decided to take a chance. Without any personal advice or recommendations, I called a random salon where I’d once had a Groupon for a facial and asked to make a haircut appointment with one of their senior stylists.

My new hair stylist was the polar opposite of my last. A young skinny guy with tattoos covering both arms and a baseball cap, I will never forget the first time I sat in his chair thinking, what ON EARTH have I done???

Turns out my new guy was just what my hair needed, and I’ve been going to him ever since. It’s been a couple of years now, and I kept meaning to email my old hair stylist and tell her why I’d gone elsewhere and check in to see how she was doing. I knew she’d be cool about it, but I felt like I owed her at least a good-bye and thank-you. I just never got around to it.

* * *

Last Saturday I was at my new salon, getting my usual cut-and-color. My head was hanging back into the sink waiting for my color to be combed through. I took the opportunity to doze and was lost in thought when I heard a voice saying my name. I opened my eyes to see a woman sanding over me, smiling.

“Do you remember me?” she asked.

I came out of my daydreams and tried to focus. Her face was familiar, but I couldn’t place her. I played a long for a minute as she talked, and suddenly I realized.

It was my former stylist with a new haircut.

She had chopped her long brown locks to a shoulder-length bob and colored it red so I didn’t recognize her at first. As I tuned back in, she was explaining that she was there to introduce my salon to a new L’Oreal product for conditioning and strengthening color-treated hair. I remembered her new gig and the reason she’d closed up shop, and immediately the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.

I suppose it’s not so far-fetched to imagine that I would have run into her this way, knowing that she travels around to salons training them on L’Oreal products, but I certainly never anticipated it. I might have been a bit more motivated to write that email had I predicted this encounter.

She was totally cool about it and seemed genuinely happy to see me, but I couldn’t help but feel a little bit like one of my kids when they’ve been hiding something from me and get found out.

We chatted for a few minutes while she applied the new product to my hair, and then I went on upstairs with my current stylist for the haircut portion of my salon services.

“Well, that was awkward!” I confided once I got settled into my chair.

I explained that she was my last hair stylist before I came to him. Then I laughed and said, “I feel sort of like I just got caught in the act by my ex-boyfriend!”

And that pretty much sums it up.

How do you handle the Hair Stylist Break-Up?

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28 thoughts on “That Awkward Moment When . . .

  1. I know what you mean . .. but . . . thankfully your encounter wasn’t confrontational in any way. The last two stylists I’ve had are great, but curtailed their work hours since they’ve both started families. Another was in Center City — and it turned into a “day trip” on Saturday or a day off . . . and while he is delightful, the Fox News people were definitely getting more attention than I was! So . .. I am shopping for a new one myself . . . suggestions? I have naturally curly hair . . . and have had more bad haircuts than good ones!

    1. Hey Leslie. I definitely recommend Ritchie at Bella Spa in Eagle!! Also, his wife Rachel is great. She cuts my daughters’ hair. I took them to her after I found Ritchie b/c I was afraid they wouldn’t like his tattoos, lol. They are both senior stylists and have been at the salon since they opened.

  2. Ha! I so relate to this. I loved my old stylish but had the same issue – by the time I got down to Boston and had my hair cut and colored, over 4 hours had passed. When we got the puppy, I just couldn’t be away from home that long. I haven’t run into him (yet), but I can imagine the same awkwardness!

  3. Guys I’m a stylist and it’s ok we know things happen, we just hope we did not give you a bad cut or do something wrong? Don’t stress about it, but I would love a letter from a client, because you know we consider you our friend, and you would not treat a friend like that would you?

  4. I, too, switched stylists a while back. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her anymore, or that she was doing a “bad” job, but our communication didn’t seem to be jiving as it once had. I would go in with a vision, or somewhat of an expectation, and come out feeling totally let down. A year went on this way, and then after a horribly botched color and terrible cut, I decided it was time to move on.

    I went to this stylist I had met with a friend several months prior, and I haven’t looked back. She is exactly what I needed! I leave every time feeling refreshed and excited!

    I didn’t tell my previous stylist I was leaving, but I was sure she’d catch on after I didn’t return for my monthly trim. Every time I drive by her shop I wonder if she wonders where I went, but fortunately, I haven’t run into anyone that works there… yet.

  5. Oh, how awkward!

    I had someone I went to for almost a year. And then I needed an appointment NOW and she couldn’t fit me in, so I went to someone else in the same salon. Someone else who made my hair look much better, in a shorter period of time, and for cheaper! So I kept going to her- but I still see my old hairdresser at the salon- and it is awkward.

    Before we moved, I went to my sil. I was so nervous to start going to her because if I didn’t like what she did, how do I explain not going back? But thankfully, I loved how she did my hair.

  6. How do you break up with your stylist and go to another in the same salon? I’m doing that next week. I just got sick of the drama of the old stylist–hearing about his kids, his love life, his mother and every ache and pain. Finally the last no show did it. I went with someone else. I just wanted to get in and out at that point so not overly enthused with the do–but we’ll see next week. I hope my old stylist calls in sick that day. A nail tech told me that the stylists don’t care if you switch. I don’t know about that.

      1. Try the wife. It’s your money and your hair. You didn’t make a life long commitment to the guy.

        🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. I’m on the verge of breaking up too and I’m feeling so anxious about it. I’ve had the same stylist for the past year but the last time he cut my hair he didn’t want to schedule my next appointment (didn’t have his book filled in for eight weeks later?). I’ve been struggling with how he does my bangs but I think I’ve been really nice about that. He’s very local and his shop is in the middle of my weekly routine. Do you think the appointment thing is a sign that he’d rather I didn’t re-schedule?

  8. Been there. Done that. It is as awkward & difficult as it was when I chose a new dentist because mine was getting too old…..I see my old one socially and always feel guilty.

  9. I have gone to the same stylist for 10 years now. She is so nice and she gives me a great deal, so I have never tried anyone else. But lately, she just hasn’t really cut my hair the way I want. She does a good job, just doesn’t go as edgy as I would like. But, I know I won’t get the same price anywhere else, which means less frequent visits if I change. For now I’m sticking with her, as I do like the way she colors my hair, but I might be making a change eventually.

    I’m so glad for you that your encounter wasn’t too awkward–at least it was friendly.

  10. I had a stylist that I loved before I had kids. It was close to work and home, He’d come in early so I could have my haircut on a Saturday before yoga. I could say, “I’d like something a little different.” He knew that I was low maintenance, I rarely do more than brush. He would tell me right out if a cut in a picture was not right for my face. On top of it, he was the owner, fun to talk to and even good looking. We moved and I had kids but my hubby still worked near by and for 4 years, I kept going even though I had to coordinate with hubby and bring the kids down and he would get off work early. Eventually, it was just too much. I ended up writing him a letter, mostly so he would have proof of my praise, but let him know that it was just too much time and hassle on my end.

    The next stylist was great for the first cut, but the remaining two were not good and the environment worked with his brother and they would argue politics and try to drag me into it. I went for those 3 cuts and never went back.

    My new stylist, I just called a salon that I liked the look of near a coffee shop I adore. I asked for someone who was liked cutting straight hair. I like her alot, We are going on 4 years.

  11. Completely understand. I wanted to try one of the makeup items you recommended, but the only place that carried it locally was the old salon where I used to go. Thankfully, my esthetician just started selling it a couple of weeks ago. I mentioned my dilemma to her and she reassured me that my other stylist would have been happy to see me and would have understood why I left, but still, I can’t help but feel a little bad about the way I left.

  12. Nicole described my situation EXACTLY. I’ve been going to the same girl for probably 10 years. She does color great and always gives me a good cut, but we definitely disagree about my bangs. She keeps cutting them, and I want to grow them. And lately, I just want a cut that’s a little more up-to-date. I’m going to her next week and just might conveniently forget to make my next appointment. 🙂

    Funny thing is, I talked to a friend recently who has really cute hair. She goes to the same girl that several of my friends (also with really cute hair) go to. And then she pulled out a coupon for me to use on my first visit. What to do???!!!

  13. Oh, boy – I’m thinking about doing that very thing. I’ve been going to the same person for the last 13 years. She’s always done a good job and we’re sort of friends now. She knows my family and has cut most of their hair at least a couple of times. But lately she hasn’t been doing as well. And I want a new style but she can’t come up with anything. And my schedule and her schedule don’t mesh. So I was thinking about switching. And I probably won’t tell her – I’ll just do it. And then that same thing will happen to me and I’ll feel exactly the way you did.

    So how do you break up with a stylist?

  14. Great post ! I never feel like I handle stylist issues well…good to know others have the same problem. I’ve been going to the same guy for years and loved my hair but wanted something a smidge different but just didn’t know how to describe what I wanted. Took my daughter in for just a trim at a local big spa type of place that takes drop-ins, saw a cut I liked and on a whim had my hair cut like that. HATE IT!! Makes my face look all kinds of chunkie. I sent my stylist a FB message and owned it, told him I had a moment of weakness and he said all was well, not a biggie and “see you in a few weeks.” But STILL! Awkward!

  15. Eek. I kind of squirm just reading about it. Awkward is right! I’m glad it was painless enough for you at least!

  16. My stylist and her husband are owners of the salon where
    I go to have my hair done. She had to cancel my appt and asked me to switch with one of her other stylists. I did switch and I loved my cut and new hairdo! I have since gone to the “new” stylist on a weekly basis, as he is great with a blowout. I intended to stay with him. Fortunately, he works on days she does not, so it makes it less stressful. However, my old stylists husband had a huge hand in driving my son-in-law out of his job and I really do not want to help support someone that would jeopardize someone else’s family like that, but I honestly have never been happier about my hair and have to make a decision whether to continue with my “new” stylist and help support someone that jeopardized my daughter and her familY. ,

  17. That’s a toughie! To be honest, I saw my last hair stylist since before I got married! So, like 15 years and one day I knew I wanted a change to my hair but I knew exactly what she would do to it. She was awesome but I just knew too well and really needed something fresh. Plus, I was at that point in my life where I didn’t feel like chatting about my life that she already knew ALL about, I kind of needed to start over! I totally did not tell her, I just couldn’t. I figured she’d figure it out and hoped she’d understand. Later that year she ended up moving out of the country, so strangely it worked out.

    I ended up trying many different stylists before finding the PERFECT ONE and then we moved away like a month later. Ugh! Now, another move and I’ve found my stylist! She’s awesome and also charges less than half what I used to pay but gives maybe the best cuts I’ve had in the longest time! So, in the end, all is well!

    So funny how much I have to say about HAIR.


  18. Great story! I have been struggling the past two years while living in AL to find someone I like as well as my girl back home that cuts my hair. I have gone to her for years and we “click”. She gives great haircuts and does not hurry, which I never knew was something to appreciate. Everyone I go to here seems to want to get me out of the chair as fast as possible. Hahaha, maybe it is me? hahaha

  19. I jumped seats in my salon And I jumped from the owner to a younger stylist 😉
    I do try to schedule my appts on her well known ‘Wed AMs off’ but she’s usually there anyways LOL
    I go out of my way to say ‘she does such a great job on my daughter I want to look just like her’ But we both know I jumped. In the end she still gets my loyalty to the salon so I have no guilt.

  20. YIKES! I hate switching! I too found a stylist I love. Her highlights are fabulous and the cut has been great. I was hesitant at first appointment. Chose her unknown, got to my appointment and the salon is very gothic. The stylists all wear black (I love black but this is extreme), all pierced everywhere and heavily tattooed with sleeves and no inch of skin clear. Everyone also has black hair! I gulped and sat thru it because I was embarrassed to cancel at the front door and got in the chair. Loved it! I pay more than I would like, I know there are topics we don’t discuss because we would have different opinions, appointments take awhile…..but I love the highlights! We are now moving to another state and I have to start over. I am dreading this worse than finding a new dentist! My only thanks is I am retaining my old gyn dr that I’ve gone to three moves ago and in another state…but can’t make a road trip for the stylist! It’s painful!

  21. I think that most stylists would not be too offended when some switches maybe since I worked in the medical field for so many years you understand if someone changes providers for one reason or another. Something so personal has to be a good fit for you and them.

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