Making the cut: How to break up with your hairstylist

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The Morning Show’s Break Up Panel explains the best way to break up with your hair dresser if you're looking change things up – Feb 18, 2020

Break-ups are always painful — even if it means with your hairdresser.

There could be a variety of reasons why people leave their current hairstylist or barber and find another one. It could be increasing costs, lack of available appointments, or maybe just distance. Sometimes, you might not like how the stylist cuts your hair.

It’s not an easy decision for many people, and it can be tough to tell your stylist that you’re moving your business elsewhere, said Adrian Carew, a Toronto-based stylist and owner of salon Hair91.

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“You know, you create a bond. And separating from that bond is kind of tough,” he said. 

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Those who work with hair are aiming to make you look and feel great, and that time in the chair can lead to in-depth, personal conversations. That can make it harder to walk away, Carew said.

Why you might want to leave your hairdresser

A study conducted by payment company Square in January found a third of Canadians surveyed said they’ve “cheated” on their hairstylists to try someone else.

Reasons for straying from their consistent stylist included difficulties getting an appointment, bad haircuts, a stylist moving away, a stylist not listening to them, or a stylist who was too chatty, according to the study. 

Even if some clients don’t want to talk, many do and create an emotional bond with their stylist, said Carew.

“It’s a relationship that’s acquired between hairstylists and clients…sometimes some of us might even be their therapists, confiding stories and situations,” he said.

That can create a level of intimacy that can be difficult to give up, even if you may want to try a different stylist, he explained.

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“People are always a bit wary of hurting someone’s feelings, or offending them in a way, especially if you’ve been with the hairstylist for a really long time,” said Lisa Vella, a Toronto based makeup and hair artist. 

It’s not uncommon for people to want to test how their cut might go with another stylist, and then go back to their original hairdresser, she said. 

“Hairstylists have an understanding that people are going to want different things at different times,” she said. “And sometimes people want to explore a style that may be outside of their own hairstylist’s comfort zone.”

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Sometimes clients want to try something drastic, which is why people may look at other hairdressers who have a specialty.

“If people are looking for a style that maybe suits another hairstylist’s, that would be why they would say, ‘hey, maybe I’ll try this person,’” she said. 

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How to go about breaking up with them

If you have known your stylist for years and have a personal relationship with them, out of respect, it’s important to be honest about why you won’t be making another appointment, said Janine Holmes, a Toronto-based beauty expert and owner of I Do! Beauty Co.

“It’s this culture we’ve created, and social media is probably a big factor in that, where we don’t like speaking to people in person,” she said. 

“Honesty is the best policy. I think with a hairstylists, just like every relationship out there, there’s a timeline for it and it’s not always forever. There are many different reasons why people move on,” she said. 

“If it’s someone that you’ve had a long-lasting relationship with…the right thing to do is have that conversation.”

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Whether it’s breaking up with a hairdresser, or even a partner, it’s important to have that conversation because it shows how you value the relationship, even if you’re leaving, said Carew.

“Sometimes as a matter of courtesy and respect a conservation could be the best thing to be had,” he said.

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“It comes down to respect towards an individual, and not even being a hairdresser…whether it’s your doctor, or your dentist.”

Vella recommends telling them you’re going to another hairstylist or a different salon, because they may see that you went there anyway on social media.

“So instead of them finding out that way, it’s more respectful…and obviously you respect your hairdresser if you’ve been with them for so long, just to let them know,” she said. 

“It doesn’t have to be an intense conversation.”

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