5 Red Flags You’re About to Get a Terrible Haircut (and What to Do When It Happens)

Hair stylist red flags
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There’s nothing like a change of season to inspire a fresh new cut and colour. Maybe you’re wanting to finally take the leap and go copper, or you’ve decided that yes, “Birkin bangs” were made for you.

Shaking up your hairstyle can feel as good as a holiday, but, just like a holiday, every drastic cut comes with a risk. Disaster shags and zig-zag blunt bangs are the “lost luggage” of the hair world, and they can seem like a life sentence. And, it’s awkward. How are you meant to tell your new bestie, if you’ve been swapping dating stories with over prosecco, that you absolutely hate your new hair?

At POPSUGAR Australia, we believe fear of a bad job should never stop you from chasing your hair goals, so, we sought advice from a professional. 

Anthony Nader is an award-winning international stylist and founder of Raw Hair by Anthony Nader and Itnhair, a range of silk pillowcases and heat stylers. He gave us some tips on stopping bad hair before it starts, and remedying a hair disaster if it’s (unfortunately) already happened.

Related: The “Botticelli” Haircut Trend Has Summer Written All Over It

Bad Haircut Prevention

5 hair stylist red flags
Image credit:: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

Prevention is better than cure. After all, once you’re steeling yourself to call a salon after confirming with six friends, your mum and the barista at your local cafe that your hair is indeed a disaster, it’s a bit late.

Bringing visual references is one of the best ways to make sure you and your stylist are on the same page — but, keep your expectations in check.

“References are a great way to make sure you and your stylist are ‘on the same path’,” says Anthony Nader. But, be realistic. If you’re wondering why your hairdresser is frowning at your picture of Kaia Gerber at the Met Gala, Nader says to keep in mind a stylist armed with hair extensions probably made a house call to create that look.

5 Red Flags to Watch For

1. Dry Cutting

Sadly, even in 2022, a lot of hairdressers aren’t confident cutting and styling curly and wavy hair types. Nader says for curly hair types, dry cutting is essential. The issue with wet-cutting curls he explains is that when curls are weighed down and wet, you don’t see the real texture.

“Cutting [your hair] dry will give the most accurate result,” says Nader. “Plus, you’ll see the result when you’re in the hot seat. You can end up looking like an emoji with short and curlies.”

Fortunately, there’s a quick way to get ahead of this problem. “Request a dry cut when you book,” says Nader. “It’s essential.”

2. Thinning Scissors

If your hairdresser is whipping through your hair with the razor in a frenzy it may already be too late. “Some hairdressers think more is more, they’ll be thinning, thinning and soon, it’s too late,” Nader says.

As reported by Allure, thinning scissors and razors can do serious damage to your hair. For Nader, razors and thinning, scissors are best avoided full stop, as the recovery for hair that has been overly thinned can take up to 12 months. Be direct. “Simply ask immediately following the consult, ‘Are thinning scissors or a razor going to be used?,” Nader says. If they are, you may want to jet.

Related: How Knowing Your “Curl Type” Will Help You Achieve Your Summer Hair Goals

3. A Sloppy Consult

Getting along with your hairdresser a red flag? It can be if you’re not discussing your hair. Don’t assume because you’re hitting it off as friends, you don’t need to communicate your needs clearly.

“As a first-time client, the consultation needs to result in 100 per cent understanding on both sides,” says Nader. If you finish the consult and can’t envision the haircut you’ve discussed, this is your last chance to clarify.

“If you feel like, after your follow-up questions, they still don’t quite ‘get it,’ it’s time to swap out your haircut for a blowdry,” says Nader. Sure, it might be awkward, but it will save you six months of bad hair, plus, Nader says, “you can just focus on an incredible blow dry for a night out on the town.”

4. Your Hair Stylist Wants To Try Something New (And You Don’t)

If you came in for a trim but your stylist is insisting on a pixie cut it might be time to walk. “If a hairdresser is really vibing a haircut that you didn’t request, ask about the pros and cons,” says Nader.

There might be a good reason for the suggestion but if the cut isn’t going to be manageable for your day-to-day, they need to drop their dreams and chase yours.

5. Your Hair Stylist Is Focused On Everyone But You

Etiquette is everything. If your hairdresser is focused on everyone but you, this is a very bad sign. “If they’re having friendly chat with surrounding clients… or worse, colleagues, your best off nipping it in the bud and just leaving,” says Nader. Not only is it unprofessional, but you are also likely to end up with an “80s band asymmetrical haircut” due to sheer lack of focus.

Related: Got “That Girl” Hair Envy? These 5 Products Will Give You TikTok-Level Shiny Hair

How to Deal With Disaster

Hair stylist red flags
Photo: Courtesy NBC/Warner Bros

What if the worst has happened and your hair is… ruined? Prevention is better than cure.

There can also sometimes be an awkward in-between phase when you’re transitioning from one colour to the next — and not feeling 100 per cent satisfied at this stage can be normal. Your hairdresser should communicate this with you though.

“Sometimes there’s a journey and it might take a couple of appointments to get where you want to go,” says Nader. In these instances, so long as your hairdresser has described the process, you shouldn’t necessarily hit the panic button. They may actually be looking out for the health of your hair. 

So what if the worst has happened and your hair is a disaster? For most of us, this is a crushingly embarrassing experience. But Nader says that just like in a consult, communication is key when trying to remedy a bad cut. Nader says there is a way to toe the line between being civil and assertive. 

Remember, everyone, has an off day and post-COVID the service industry is under more pressure than ever — with hair salons particularly impacted. “First and foremost, don’t yell or abuse us,” says Nader, “that is not going to help matters.” As horrifying as it might seem to the unassertive amongst us, it’s best to let your hairdresser know you’re not happy while you’re still in the chair. “It’s much easier to rectify the situation there and then, not later with a distressed email or a voicemail,” he says. 

It’s also very possible that the problem isn’t as huge as you think it is and could take only fifteen minutes to fix. 

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