People Have Some Pretty Complicated Relationships With Their Hairdressers

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Photo: Lifestock/Getty Images

The client-hairdresser relationship engenders a unique form of intimacy. You sit in a chair for hours, making small talk while a virtual stranger waves sharp objects near your face in an attempt to bring out your best self. By the time you leave, your hairdresser has become your best friend, therapist, enemy, faith healer — or some combination of all four. Add money to the mix and you get an emotional minefield. Here are 13 stories from anonymous people who have cheated on, lied to, abandoned, befriended, and sexted their hairstylists.

1. I'm a no-tip asshole. I found the greatest colorist less than one minute from my apartment. He knew how to do the beachy ombré thing without it looking cheesy. He was nice but not chatty — I could actually get work done in the chair. And he was somewhat affordable to boot. Did I mention that I liked him as a person and was happy to give him my business? But the last time I went, I paid in cash and didn’t have a cent left for a tip. I told him I’d run down the street to the ATM, and he was like, “Cool, no worries.” When I left the salon, though, I had this overwhelming urge to go home. I knew not tipping immediately was a shitty move, but I told myself I'd give him his tip the next day, plus maybe a little extra. But the next day came and went. As did the next … and the next. One year later, I’ve never been back. I don’t walk past the salon. And my hair color sucks. But it’s just too late. I’m an asshole.

2. He ghosted. My hairstylist is also my 5-year old son's. I called to make an appointment and learned he'd quit the day before. Zero notice. No contact. No way of reaching him. I felt abandoned, like the guy I’d been dating for a long time suddenly wasn’t returning my calls. I'd been with this stylist for six years, listened to countless stories about his kid and his ex, and then he ghosted. When my son's hair reached emergency status, we apprehensively made an appointment with another stylist. It turned out great. Three days later, my stylist texted me with his new contact info. I don't know. I haven't replied.

3. I like someone new. My hairstylist of five-plus years got called out of town temporarily on a project and recommended a colleague at his salon while he was gone. The problem is, I prefer the cut this new guy gave me and want to switch to him. But how can I do that, knowing my original stylist will be back in September? Am I doomed to revert to the mediocre cut out of loyalty? Must I switch salons entirely? Is this how John Lennon felt about his "lost weekend"?

4. I didn't want to disappoint him. I had just gotten pregnant with a guy I barely knew. For a second, I thought I’d keep the baby. That same week I saw my hairdresser of four years whom I adored. I told him I was pregnant and he was so sweet and happy for me. We got really into it. A few days later, I decided not to keep the baby. I didn't want to deal with explaining that to him, so I got a new hairdresser. How’s that for a lighthearted bit?

5. It’s a dangerous relationship. The best haircut of my life was at a well-known place in Soho. My cutter literally had cocaine dripping out of his nose and his hands were shaking like a tweaker. Nevertheless, he gave me the hottest shag haircut ever, and it grew out into an even cooler look. It’s time to go back and I’m tempted. The cut was that good! But who willingly does business with a drug addict … especially when it involves sharp objects?

6. He gave me pills. My hairdresser gave me a couple Xanax once for a flight I was taking to Miami. This was kind of a rough time in my life. When I got to Miami, I was a basket case: moody, angry, emotional. I acted like a crazy bitch to my boyfriend and embarrassed myself in front of his friends. When I told him about the pills, none of which had been prescribed to me, he was livid. He made me tell him who gave me what, and demanded that I promise never to see the hairdresser again. Now he’s my ex-boyfriend, but I still associate that hairdresser with trouble. I can't ever go back.

7. Awkward sexting. I sent my female hairdresser a sext once (I’m a woman). She had mentioned being bi or bicurious or something in that zone, so it seemed like there might be potential. She waited a day or two to respond then basically brushed the entire thing off. I think she wrote, “Adorbs!” Oof. 

8. I'm pathologically unable to tell them the truth. Both my stylist and colorist suck. They suck worse every time I go. But I'm too lazy to find new ones. I practically cry every time my stylist cuts my bangs. And yet I always tell them after each cut that I love it.

9. It was just weird. I had a colorist who would say "Cheers" after everything. “Can you bring your chin up? Cheers.” “Head back. Cheers.” Literally every couple sentences. It was so harmless, but so strange and oddly upsetting. What do you even say about that?

10. My hairstylist lied to me. I used to go to a stylist who made my hair look incredible. I really liked her and always tipped her well. Then she got some celebrity clients, opened her own salon, and started charging an exorbitant amount of money — unbeknownst to me. The last time I was there, I went for a simple wash and press, and she refused to tell me how much it would cost. I even called before I went to make sure her prices hadn’t changed, and the receptionist wouldn’t tell me — but I desperately needed my hair done for an interview the next day, and I figured the price wouldn’t have gone up more than $40 or so. It all felt very shady when I sat down in the chair and asked her the price and she started talking about the weather. When I went to pay, I was notified that the service had gone up $200! We got in a full-blown argument. I told her she was incredibly rude and unprofessional, she tried to gloss it over and explain, but at that point I was furious. As soon as I left, I wrote her a scathing review using my Yelp alter ego. Now whenever I walk by her salon, I give it the middle finger.

11. My hairstylist acted like I cheated on her. I scheduled a cut around the time I would normally get highlights and told her, “I’m going to get highlights for free from this celebrity stylist!” I assumed she would be cool with it. She’s normally super-nice, but her face got pinched and she said, “Oh wow … that’s cool” in this disappointed tone. Then she added, "Well, thanks for telling me in advance, I would have been upset if you came in here with highlights without telling me first."

12. Becoming friends with my stylist is impacting my hair. I met my hairstylist when my hair looked like garbage and I was so desperate, I walked into a random salon where she took me. She did a really good job so I kept going to her. The third time I went to her, it was after a breakup and I cried in her chair. She laughed at me, but in a sweet way and started talking about her own heartache. I recommended her to another friend of mine, they hit it off, and the three of us became a unit. It’s definitely affected my hair. It’s made going into the salon more fun. Sometimes when I leave, she’ll be like, “I’m done at eight, let me know where you are,” and I feel like the coolest person at the salon. I don’t even always have to tip. On the other hand, if she’s busy, she’ll be like, “Oh she’s my friend, she can wait.” Once she got really swamped and didn’t do too great a job. It’s harder to push when you are friends.

13.  I miss her but had to quit her. My hairstylist and I got along really well as people. The cuts were good, but what I really liked were the conversations — we were on the same wavelength. Then she stopped charging me and started giving me lopsided haircuts. Did she stop charging me because we were friends? Or was it because she knew the haircut was bad? I never said anything and it turned into this whole psychodrama in my head. Were we actually friends, or “friends,” or was it just a client relationship? It was exhausting.