I'm Just Not That Into Hue: How To Break Up With Your Colorist

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
As the lead colorist of the Oscar Blandi salon, I have few complaints. I boast the most wonderful women as clients, and I love coloring their hair. The bond between a woman and her colorist can often seem intimate (one of the things I appreciate about the job, as I'm a people person), much like that between best friends.

Because of this connection, however, I realize that it may be difficult to know when the relationship is no longer working and it's time to move on. There's little to no discussion on this topic, which can often be awkward and upsetting. But, I know from years of salon experience that breaking up with your colorist is sometimes just as stressful as the end of a romantic relationship, and not something anyone really tells you how to do the right way. (Show me the self-help book on this topic, please.) Well, I'm here to shed some light on surviving the stylist breakup. Read on to learn when it's time to leave your stylist and tips for doing it. 

When To Walk Away
It's undeniable that there's a strong social aspect to a salon visit, and as enjoyable as it may be to chat about your latest vacation or get advice on your problems, don't lose sight of the fact that ultimately you're there for your hair. So, if you're not really happy with the results, you need to speak up. The fact that you've developed a friendship with your colorist shouldn't make you uncomfortable saying if something's off. A good friend, after all, would want to know that you're unsatisfied and would therefore be understanding and do everything possible to get your locks back on track.

It's absolutely reasonable to expect your color or cut to be exactly the way you want it each and every time you leave the salon — not just on occasion. If, over the course of years, something's a bit off once in a while, that's probably nothing to be concerned about. On the other hand, if you speak up and your stylist still doesn't get it right, my rule is to have one more instructive conversation with him or her about what the problem is, and then one more opportunity to get it right. That's it, though. You're spending too much time, money, and energy after that point, and you're better off finding someone new. 

It's Nothing Personal
People change hairstylists all the time and often within the same salon. I see this again and again, and honestly, it's a standard part of the industry, and no one takes it personally. Does your doctor throw a fit and stop speaking to you if you ask for a second opinion? Of course, not! If your colorist or stylist doesn't react calmly when you move on, it probably wasn't a relationship worth staying in.

Remind him or her that it's not personal. You wouldn't purchase a blouse you didn't like for fear of insulting the sales girl or eat at a restaurant where the food was bad because you didn't want to hurt the chef's feelings, and there's no difference here. 

Most of us are able to keep our egos in check and know not to take it to heart if a client decides to see someone else. Your stylist's main concern is that you love your hair, and if someone else is a better fit for you, it's really not a big deal. You need to do right by you and not worry about bruising any egos.

Advertisement
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Time For A Change
It's nice when your colorist remembers all of your siblings' names and can reminisce with you about your wedding hair, but with this familiarity may come a complacency. It could mean that after a long time together, while you two are busy chatting, he or she may be cutting your hair on autopilot. In order to prevent this, I recommend catching up after the main work is done. I like to gossip with my clients while the color is processing and not while I'm focusing intently on putting in foils.

But, what if you're still not satisfied with the results? When you've been seeing the same artist for years, you may just need a fresh set of eyes. No matter how much you switch up your routine with your current stylist, you may simply need a bigger change — in the form of a new hairdresser. Know that if the nagging feeling that you need to mix it up won't go away, you know what you need to do.

Moving On
If you've decided it's time to move on, there are a couple of ways to handle it. If you've followed my advice and mentioned that you haven't been loving your hair the last couple of appointments, and even gone so far as to consult with another hairdresser, then I don't think it's necessary to have a big, uncomfortable breakup speech.

Your former stylist will get the message when he or she sees you in another colorist's chair, trust me. That said, if it makes you more comfortable to tell him or her beforehand, that's okay too, but choose the right time: Don't do it in front of everyone at the salon. Make a phone call or send an email or card.

The instance where I believe you absolutely must send a note or call is if you've never mentioned that there was an issue. When you do see your former hairdresser, don't ignore him or her. It'll only make things feel awkward when there's no need for them to be. A smile and hello will further convey that it's nothing personal, just business as usual. 

Whatever happens, remember that a breakup with your colorist doesn't have to mean it's over forever. Maybe you mix things up a bit and then return to the chair you've been sitting in for year. Then again, maybe you don't. No matter what, it's your hair and it's totally okay to shop around. 
Advertisement