How To Confidently And Respectfully Tell Your Stylist You Aren't Happy With Your Haircut

Hey, it happens. You go to your hairstylist with a photo of a chic lob, a retro shag cut, or even a simple cut and color and your results look nothing like you imagined. What do you do? Should you say something immediately? Most importantly, how do express to your hairstylist that you don't love their handiwork? These questions are all valid — and so are the nerves you might be experiencing! Below, find a guide to broaching the topic with a measured balance of tact and assertiveness, with help from hairstylists of TikTok.

First things first: If you brought a reference picture, take a fresh look at it and try to remain objective. If your hair looks like the picture but not the way you envisioned it would look on you, say so to your stylist. Perhaps they will have recommendations for customizing the cut. What's more, identifying what you don't like about the new look could open up avenues for conversations about styles that might be more flattering. Hairstylist @theresavandamstylist on TikTok suggests speaking with "I" statements and avoiding "you" statements to keep the conversation friendly and focused on outcomes. For example, "I thought I would like it, but I don't like the way the cut accentuates xyz" or "The look I was going for is more xyz. Is there anything we can do here?" 

Understand that mistakes happen at every job

The situation gets thornier when the stylist departs from the reference photo — and mistakes can and do happen at all workplaces. In these cases, it's important to first consider what you would like to get out of the conversation. If you're confident that your stylist can fix the issue, explain the differences you see in the photograph with what you're looking at in the mirror and ask if any adjustments can be made. Giving them the chance to fix it demonstrates understanding that mistakes do happen, which may make the stylist more likely to help you. 

If you'd rather go somewhere else, it's still important to speak up as politely and as soon as possible with the original stylist. Conversations about potential refunds can stem from that initial discussion — but the only way to navigate that is by taking the first step to tell them how you truly feel about your hair. 

"Be nice about it, be kind about it, be gracious, but you have to tell them," advises stylist Kamra Conn, who runs the popular @theconnartist channel on TIkTok. "I know it can be scary, but the only way that we can improve as stylists is by knowing. If it helps, think of it as you helping us to hone our skills. Because we can be doing hair for six months or thirty years — mistakes happen, but we want to grow and we want to improve."

Say something when you're sure

The urge to run out of the salon might be strong, but many stylists insist that they prefer to know immediately. Texting a week or two later and saying you don't like it can be "soul crushing," says hair stylist and educator Shelby Davis on TikTok. "I understand why you do it that way, it's less confrontational," she says in a video. "...[But] please just tell us in the appointment, like 'hey listen, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this but I'm not loving the tone, or I'm not loving the highlights' or whatever it might be." 

Alternatively, it's possible you may love the look in the chair, but after a few days at home, find the style less appealing or manageable. It's not too late to let the hairstylist know. Start by expressing what you liked about it in the salon, and then segue to the issues you're having with it in the current moment. Try not to negate what you said at the salon. Your stylist may be able to provide advice for how to better care or style the look so that you can achieve results you're happy with. 

Ultimately, remember that the vast majority of hairstylists love their work and take pride in it, and want you to be happy. When in doubt, just remember to keep it kind and clearly articulate what it is you're trying to achieve. It is, after all, you who lives with your hair, and you who spends money on it!