Read an Excerpt: 'Dump 'Em'

I should have called Gina back, or at least picked up the phone when she called. It certainly would have made me feel better— after all these years, I still feel guilty about the way I treated her. She went out of her way for me that day and I bolted, out of her apartment and out of her life forever. There was talk about meeting for a drink so I could hear about her trip, but my childish behavior put an end to that.

One of the most valuable things I learned while writing this chapter is how important it is to be prepared before going to your hairdresser, especially if you're going to a new one. From cutting out pages from magazines to bringing in personal photographs of the hairstyle you want, it's up to you to communicate what you want to your hairdresser. I spoke to a woman in Manhattan who stops women on the street and asks them if she can take a picture of their haircut to show her hairdresser. Remember, your idea of what a person's haircut looks like might be totally different than your hairdresser's. Thinking back to Gina, I went to her apartment with nothing in hand. I put all the power in her hands to change my look just days before graduation. That was my mistake.

While it's important to listen to your hairdresser's suggestions about haircuts, at the end of the day, you're the one wearing the 'do—so speak up! Tell your hairdresser what kind of person you are: chill, high maintenance, conservative, liberal, rocker? Don't leave her guessing. A number of people I spoke to for this chapter confessed to being bullied by their stylists and ended up getting cuts that they hated. When I asked them whether they said anything to their hairdressers, very few said that they had. The reason?

They were afraid to hurt their hairdressers' feelings. But you're paying for the haircut you want, not the haircut she wants you to have. Others said that it took them months to book the appointment with the new and hot stylist, so they didn't want to insult her. The best piece of advice I got while researching this chapter was how many salons offer free consultations. This is a great way of fi guring out whether or not you like a potential hairdresser. Pay attention to whether or not she pays attention to you. Make sure she asks you the right questions, and be sure to tell her as much as you can about you and your hair. If you don't like the vibe, don't make an appointment—or be prepared to walk out with a mullet.

Laying the Groundwork

Make sure you have realistic expectations of what your hair can and cannot do. If you don't know, ask your hairdresser.

Start emotionally disengaging from your current hairdresser. Your goal is to slowly shift your relationship to a less personal, more professional one so that dumping her will be easier.

Give your hairdresser a warning. Point out what you don't like about your hair. Be specifi c: Do you hate the length? Troubled by the color? Lost in the layers? Tell her.

Find a new hairstylist. Stop people on the street who have hairstyles you like. Pick up beauty and hair magazines, such as Allure or Celebrity Hairstyles. If you need help, check out www.StylistMatch.com. The Web site has a search engine that fi nds hairdressers in your area who specialize in your hair type. When possible, they also provide you with pictures of local salons.

Call salons around town and take advantage of free consultations.

Rehearse what you're going to say to your current hairdresser.

How to Dump 'Em

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