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Many of us have experienced relationships that simply are no longer working, but few are harder to remedy than those with our hairstylists. Most of us would have no problem finding someone else to care for our lawns if the landscaper repeatedly “missed a few spots.” In many important ways, our stylists are different. We have not only trusted them with our looks and sense of style but our deepest secrets and personal stories. We know their stories, hopes, and fears as well and we desperately do not want to end on bad terms or with hurt feelings. When you think about moving on, you are considering the ending of a relationship, which is a huge deal. We have compiled some tips to hopefully give you the courage and wisdom to finally make the change you so desperately need and deserve.

You Hired This Person

In most cases, the relationship with your stylist began not with friendship, but with an agreement that they would provide you with services and in turn you would pay them with your hard-earned money for them. These services should include a comfortable environment, the pinnacle of quality and professionalism, a guarantee of satisfaction on the work performed, and open and honest communication. Perhaps the relationship started off well, but over time the stylist became lazy, lost that passion and commitment to detail, did not respect your time commitments or neglected to keep up with rapidly evolving modern trends and techniques.

Have you communicated honestly about your satisfaction with their work and overall experience dealing with your stylist? Perhaps you considered having this crucial conversation but fear that they lack the professionalism to handle it gracefully. A professional should want, above all, to satisfy their client’s needs and desires while encouraging constructive criticism and striving for continual improvement.

It’s Not You; It’s Me

If necessary, do some research and ensure that you’re not unhappy because the stylist is giving you accurate advice that you don’t want to hear. Sometimes, when your hairdresser tells you it’s not a good idea to attempt a hairstyle or color you presented of a picture from a magazine, it’s because they are experts! Ensure you are not treating them as magicians who can take you from one color extreme to the next, or tailor any hairstyle to your unique and unchanging skin tone, facial features and hair type. We seek out and respect advice from all kinds of experts, but sometimes we are quick to dismiss that of our highly trained and knowledgeable beauty industry leaders. Make sure you are honest with yourself about why you are unhappy and that your demands are reasonable.

Decision and Action

The first and most crucial step is to make a decision. No matter if you can’t quite put your finger on the reason or there are blatantly apparent causes for your unhappiness, make a decision and act now!

If the reason for making your decision is the stylist’s personality or lack of professionalism, this is an indication they will not take ultimatums or constructive criticism well. Move directly to the breakup phase.

You do not have to decide immediately whether your relationship is worth salvaging and that a breakup is the only recourse. If you aren’t quite ready to pull the plug, you will decide to give your stylist one last chance. Under these circumstances go and visit your stylist for your next appointment and be sure to communicate with them your sources of discontentment ahead of the start of your session. Be professional, kind and communicate in a manner befitting the important relationship you both share. Be sure to indicate that if you continue to be unhappy with the results you are paying them for, you will have to find someone else.

If you have tried everything and are confident that you have done your part in maintaining the relationship and things still don’t change, then you’ll have to move on to the breakup.

It’s Over

The worst thing for you and your hair stylist would be for you suddenly to stop making appointments. You’ll have to worry that you might bump into them at the grocery store, with your fabulous new look, or that your next stylist will let the word slip out that you have made a move. On the other hand, the subject of your breakup will not benefit from knowing where you have gone and why you just had to make a change. This feedback is invaluable to a professional who is concerned with using feedback to improve!

We recommend sending an email or better, a hand-written note. By putting the reasons for your decision in writing, you will ensure you are accurate, short and honest about why you two are no longer on the same page. Be sure not to dwell on details or complaints that are not practical or helpful. You are not taking the time to write this person a note to be petty or argumentative. Optionally, mention a few things the stylist does well and thank them for the time they have been servicing you.

Moving On

Ok, so you’ve done it. Realize that your ex-stylist has been through this before and they certainly didn’t expect to retain all of their clients for life. They’ll get over it and so should you. Now, don’t rush headlong into a new relationship with a rebound stylist. First, reflect on your experiences and if it helps, make a list of the factors that lead to your decision and what you desire from your next stylist.

Ultimately, you are going to need to get your hair done by someone and perhaps it is an urgent matter requiring immediate attention. Maybe you already have someone in mind or have obtained a recommendation from a trusted friend. No matter how you find them, carefully consider the reasons why your last one didn’t work out and what you will look for in a new relationship. Determine how you will explain to your new stylist what it is you are looking for and what you are not willing to put up with. Be mindful not to badmouth your previous stylist or their place of employment as this is unhelpful and causes drama…a common source for breakups in the first place.

A Win-Win-Win

We wouldn’t go so far as to say this was easy. Nobody feels comfortable breaking up with someone. When that someone is as close as your long-term hairstylist, it can be especially difficult to say goodbye. But, if you can finally fix this situation and in a thoughtful and professional manner, all parties involved can benefit. You can get started on a relationship with the perfect hair stylist at the perfect salon. Your ex-stylist can learn from their mistakes and improve their skills. And best of all, you can be confident that if you happen to cross paths again in the future at the supermarket (or even at a salon), there will be no hard feelings or tension.