Ask Kate: How Do I Break Up with My Hairstylist?



Ask Kate: How Do I Break Up with my Hairstylist?


This is always a really tough question to answer because client/hairstylist relationships can range from very surface level to a personal connection. Without knowing where you may stand with your stylist, I want to offer as many suggestions as I can to help you navigate this tough conversation.

First, if you aren’t planning on returning to the salon ever again, and you don’t have a particularly close relationship with your stylist, I think it’s okay just to avoid rescheduling after your last appointment and then move on. It is not required to give a notice that you are leaving, and in some cases, that may come off as hurtful.

If you are hoping to see a different stylist at that same salon, that is a much more sensitive issue that involves more people and more feelings. In that case, it’s best to explain to your stylist what you would like to do, with the full awareness that you may hurt his or her feelings. Imagine yourself in their shoes and try to think of a sensitive way to explain what you’d like to do. When you book an appointment with the new stylist, know that it’s going to be uncomfortable to see your former stylist in the salon, and it may also be uncomfortable for your new stylist. The hope would be that everyone can look at this stylist change from a professional place, but that isn’t always the case.

More than anything, when you want to change stylists, try to explain why in a way that is clear and respectful. One direction you could go is to say that you are wanting a little bit of a change from an artistic perspective. Hairstylists are artists and everyone has a different style. Emphasizing that you are looking for a different look and are interested in seeing what someone else would do with your hair is a route that could be understood from your stylist, though still runs a risk to hurt feelings.

I’d recommend imagining that you are on the receiving end of this conversation and do a run-through in your head first. You want to be clear and professional, but also be sure you get your point across.

A similar situation that you may be in is liking your stylist but not being pleased with the results on your hair. In those cases, your best shot for improvement is to talk to him or her about how you are looking for a different result. Hairstylists are not mind-readers, so the more you can communicate, the better. Trust your stylist to know what is best for your hairstyling routine, texture, product usage, etc. so they are able to set you up for hair success!

In general, I always lean towards being honest and clear when having a tough conversation, even if it’s harder than ghosting a person. I know if I were in a position with a client that wanted a change I would so much rather be told from the client herself instead of wondering if I did something to personally offend her.

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Comments (22)

  1. Posted July 16, 2020

    I can see how tough that conversation would be! Meanwhile, I’m still trying to find a hair stylist I vibe with…

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. Amanda says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    I changed stylists within a salon a couple of years ago. The stylist was young and wanted to be overly ambitious. I was kind and she admitted she preferred young, trendy clients. Now I think about it, she broke up with me!

  3. Kendra says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    My dilemma is I have been to two different stylists in the past two years. I like the way one cuts my hair and the other colors my hair. I’ve been going to the “color” stylist for a year now. Is it weird if I just go to one for my color and go to the other for a cut a few days later? They are both owners of completely different salons. Obviously they would know but I wasn’t sure if they would be offended?

    • Kate says
      Posted July 16, 2020

      I think if I was in that position I would probably tell the colorist that you want to see someone else for a haircut because “you enjoy seeing this person regularly and want to support two stylists that you love!”

  4. Courtney says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    Thanks for this post. Definitely something I’ve questioned and discussed with friends. Any thoughts on when pricing becomes a factor, rates increasing too much? Master stylist vs. other levels. Is that a just be honest situation too?

  5. Andrea says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    My mom had a stylist break up with her in a weird fashion. My mom is the kindest woman you will ever meet. This young stylist told my mom that the way she breaks up with clients is to just not re-book them at the end of the appointment. Well, at the end of my mom’s appointment that day the stylist didn’t re-book. It hurt my mom’s feelings and made her feel bad and wonder what she had done wrong. Just wondering what your advice would be from the opposite angle.

  6. Emily Sullivan says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    Thanks for sharing this, Kate! For me, this is the absolute worst part of my job. Especially with clients that I love & feel like we have a close working relationship. After years of hair appointments, my clients feel like friends and family. I think it’s important for both sides to remember, we’re rendering a service in exchange for money. Regardless of how tight we may be, the client is still spending their hard earned money and they have a right to take that elsewhere if someone else can better service their needs. It doesn’t make it hurt any less, but it does put things into perspective!

  7. Maggie says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    If you choose to reach out to the stylist and book a follow up appointment, because you’re not happy with the results, how soon after the original appointment should you call?

  8. Angela says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    Stylists takes things so personally! I once went to a different one in the same salon because my stylist was fully booked for a while. When he saw me in her chair he made such a big deal about it that I never went back.

    • Ray says
      Posted July 16, 2020

      That’s awful! Super unprofessional 🙁

    • Kate says
      Posted July 16, 2020

      *some* stylists can take things personally. Not all!

  9. Beth says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    I recently started going to my niece, she’s a new stylist. I have reached a point with my hair that I don’t know what to do with the color. I would love your advice, she is new and I think most of her experience is with young ladies who don’t have gray hair. I’m not sure of the exact colors she is using on my hair, darker root with highlights. My gray is showing within 2 weeks of being colored. I would like to go lighter at the root so maybe it isn’t as noticeable. Is that what you would do, or what would you recommend?

  10. VB says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    Can you please share a link to your clip?

    • Michelle says
      Posted July 21, 2020

      I would also love to know where your beautiful clip is from!

  11. Megan Stump says
    Posted July 16, 2020

    I’ve gone to the same stylist for 20 years and I am ready for a change. Her hair skills are fine but she is becoming more outspoken about her political beliefs (which are polar opposite of mine!). That is her perogative but I pay good money for a relaxing few hours at the salon and this is not even remotely relaxing! My problem is that I have always made my next appt when I pay her so if I want to “break up” with her I’ll have to actually call and cancel. Help!

    • Amanda says
      Posted July 16, 2020

      She probably considers you a friend at this point and thinks you may agree with her point of view. I would just say “yeah crazy times we live in” or something like that and change the subject. She’ll probably get the hint. If she persists, when you pay, just say something like you forgot your planner and you’ll call later.

  12. Sally says
    Posted July 17, 2020

    I call when I know *my* professional client schedule, make an appointment with whoever is available then, and don’t usually care who I get. I go to a non chain salon. I guess I’m hurting lots of feelings.

  13. Fifi says
    Posted July 23, 2020

    I had been going to my stylist for a couple of years but the last time I went for a haircut, she suggested I also get a mini color too ( just the perimeter of my hair where I have a little gray ). So, basically she rushed the cut, rushed the color and I left there with frizzy hair ( curly girl). She missed putting color on my nape and around my ears, the cut was wonky and I walked out looking like a fuzzy poodle even after pointing out to her where my hair was frizzy. She’s a lovely woman but I ghosted her. I work too hard for my money to justify paying over $200 and to not be happy. I don’t enjoy the salon she works in either. They try hard to project the image of a celebrity salon but it’s just as ordinary as any other salon.

  14. Kelcy says
    Posted July 24, 2020

    I just did this last week. I’ve had the same stylist since I was in my late teens. I’m now in my early 30 s. Doing my own hair when the salons shut down because of Covid-19 made the transition a little easier. I also reminded myself that I deserved to make that change in my life.

  15. Carol says
    Posted July 26, 2020

    When your stylist leaves your favorite salon or moves to another town, they don’t always tell you in advance. Loyalty is not always a two way street. Not a big event to fret over.

  16. Posted July 27, 2020

    Great post! I love my hair stylist that I go to though 🙂

  17. Anna says
    Posted August 13, 2020

    you post is very good, my hair is dry and matte, we need pay more care for our hair. A good hair can give one good first impression.