Read an Excerpt: 'Dump 'Em'

Tip: For those of you who've become friends with your hairdresser, don't dump her by not showing up again. It may seem like the least confrontational route, but can easily lead to a highly charged run- in when you least expect it—at the market, the mall, your favorite restaurant, or the fragrance counter at Barneys. This happened to me with my old hairdresser, who was totally unpredictable with her cuts. There I was, alone and vulnerable, just wanting a new scent, when she cornered me and demanded that I tell her why I stopped going to her. She felt totally abandoned by me and was afraid that she had done something wrong. I was completely caught off guard and stuttered my way out of it, but I was so distraught that I ended up avoiding Barneys for a year. If you're not ready to speak honestly with your hairdresser, at the very least make up a white lie so that she doesn't feel abandoned.

Talk to the Hair (Stylist)

People—especially women—spend a great deal of time at the hair salon. A cut and color can easily take three hours. High- end hairstylists cater to their clients by offering them espresso drinks, wine, champagne, croissants, etc. It feels good to be taken care of by someone who wants nothing more than to make you look your very best. I've felt intoxicated upon leaving a salon; that could have been the alcohol, but still. To have a pair of professional hands work their magic and transform us into our most glamorous selves is pretty great. But all hairdressers go through rough patches, and some of them let their personal lives affect their work. If you've already laid the groundwork, you've been working on disengaging from your hairdresser. Remember, dumping her is business, not personal.

STEPS

1. Stop by or call your hairdresser.

2. Acknowledge your discomfort: "This is an awkward conversation to have."

3. Identify the issues you've been having with your cuts. "As you know I haven't been wild about ______ these past few months."

4. Dump her. "We've tried a number of things to make this work, but I'm still not getting the results I was hoping for. This is diffi cult to say, but it's time for me to check out another hairdresser."

5. Allow your hairdresser to respond. Some might let their egos come into play (not your problem!)—others might ask for another chance. Think twice. If you decide to give her one more shot, make it clear that you mean one more haircut, period. The best- case scenario is that your hairdresser will support your decision. You might be surprised by how many hairstylists will be okay with you leaving. Most genuinely want you to be happy.

6. Thank her for everything.

Musical Saloon Chairs

Many of the people I interviewed for this chapter had questions about how to handle the awkwardness involved when someone wants to see another hairstylist at the same salon. I spoke with a number of professionals, and most agreed that the way to handle it is to make your fi rst appointment on your current hairdresser's day off. When you sit at the new hairdresser's chair, speak up and let her know that this is a trial appointment.

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