Coco Chanel once said "A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life." Slightly-cheesy Pinterest quote aside, there's actually a lot of merit to this saying. (In 2017, the sentiment reads a little more like 'new hair, who dis?') For a lot of people, that major change comes after the end of a relationship. Enter: the "breakup cut."
The concept isn't new (and it's often stereotyped), but there is some scientific proof to it after all. "Hair is not only an aspect of your identity [and] self-expression, it's one of the few things you can control quite easily," Dr. Sanam Hafeez, clinical neuropsychologist and professor at Columbia University, tells Refinery29. "Changing your hair can be a big statement. It may mean you announcing something without announcing it or signify a metamorphosis. It's an instant statement that may actually make you feel like a new person."
"Breakup cuts" are so common, almost every hairstylist has helped execute one. "A haircut after a breakup is powerful," Chase Kusero, hairstylist and co-founder of IGK, says. "People [often] keep their hair a certain way because of what a partner likes, or because it’s how they’ve always worn it. When you cut it and wear it how you want it, it’s empowering." That being said, it's important to make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. "When you do a cut out of anger or revenge and that anger fades, you want to make sure you still like the cut!" Franck, hairstylist and fellow co-founder of IGK, adds.
We know what you're thinking now: Is this really healthy, or just a quick fix? "Shedding your hair may not equal out to shedding your problems," Hafeez reminds us. "Process your emotions, sit with the pain, cry, get a trim, but don't make any drastic changes until it's passed — and it will pass."
The hair pros agree: "It’s good to give yourself time to process and reflect before taking action," Jen Atkin, celebrity hairstylist and creator of Ouai Haircare, tells R29. "Yes, cutting your hair is a rush, so I can see why getting a great cut after a breakup can be exciting, but it doesn’t mean it has to be done in a rush." Her rule: If you still want the cut after a week, then do it. "It's an opportunity to reinvent yourself, so take your time deciding who you want to be next," she adds, "Then get rid of those bad feelings and move on!”
Ahead, six women tell the real stories behind their "breakup cuts" — and how it ended up being the best decision they could have made.