I had the recent misfortune of receiving a less-than-flattering haircut.
Yes, I know, please save your condolences for the end.
It should be said: it wasn't entirely my hairstylist's fault. I did not communicate well what I wanted and what I didn't (more on that later), so I got what I got and it was no bueno. I'm not sure if it was the bangs, or the length, or the texture, but something was just not jiving. My hair looked a bit like emoji hair: Blocky and awkward.
So I did what any rational person would do. I mourned, I figured out how to live with it, and then I wrote an article about it.
If you've ever had a bad haircut, and can relate, or if -- God forbid -- you're going through one right now, hopefully this article will help you feel less alone, and maybe even find new ways of coping during such a difficult time. Here's how to deal with a bad haircut:
Stage 1: Denial
Like anyone experiencing grief or a loss, my first feeling was denial.
Maybe it's not actually a bad haircut, I thought, maybe it's just styled weird.
So I tried styling it myself...and then I tried again. And again.
It still wouldn't work.
Stage 2: Anger
I quickly moved into telling anyone and everyone how much I hated my hair and how ready I was for it to grow out.
Literally everyone who told me they liked my hair (in a ponytail, because let's be real, I was not wearing it down at this stage) was regaled with my story of woe.
Dramatic? Yes. Justified? Definitely.
Stage 3: Bargaining
Though I'm not sure the anger stage had fully ended, I definitely transitioned into the bargaining stage.
Now, in traditional stages of grief processing, bargaining is usually assumed to be between yourself and a deity or supernatural being of some kind, but in the case of bad haircuts, most of the bargaining will probably happen between you and your 'do.
I learned a lot about my hair in this stage. I finally figured out how to make my ponytails to look good (!!), figured out how to perfectly pull out little pieces of hair to look wispy, and I have very nearly mastered the use of bobby pins.
So to aid you in your grieving, here are some of my best bad haircut fix tips:
Figure out what works for your face
While this may seem pretty obvious, I did quickly learn that I cannot ever pull off tight ponytails, and figured out which wisps of hair made me look fabulous, and which ones did not.
How did I figure this out? I'm sad to say there's no shortcut here -- you just have to try everything. But the good news is that once you figure out what works, you just need to learn how to recreate it (sometimes easier said than done) and you can pretty consistently have a flattering hairstyle -- even if it's just a ponytail held together by a lot of dry shampoo.
Try not shampooing as often
We've all heard about his fad, dubbed the "no poo" method, with the accompanying claims that shampooing less frequently is better for your hair, but I've never been able to commit. Knowing that I would never be able to do more with my hair than a cute pony, though, I had more opportunities to experiment with the things I've found online.
A couple of times, I went an entire week without shampooing (until I caved because no one actually enjoys oily hair), and while I didn't find any sort of life-changing difference in my hair's health, I have found that hair that's less-than-clean makes styling updos a lot easier.
Another fun tip?
Dry shampoo your hair at night, not in the morning.
Spraying your head down right before bed, in problem areas, like the very front, sides, and back of your head, will actually make your hair look cleaner (and easier to style) when you wake up in the morning, instead of starting from scratch!
If you often wake up with an oily head, definitely give this a shot. My favorite dry shampoo is by Amika, but many people find lots of success with the cheaper option, Batiste. (See our list of the best dry shampoos for more tried and true favorites.)
Once I mastered the dry-shampoo-ponytail look, I was able to move on to...
Stage 4: Depression
I spent quite a lot of time here, not going to lie. In fact, I had a moment of depression about my hair almost every single day, even when it looked cute.
This is where I really had to ask myself why it bothered me sooo much that I hated my hair. Obviously, everyone wants to look their best, and having a haircut you don't like can make you feel like you look less than your best.
In my case, though, the extent and duration of my "Depression Stage" showed me that there was something actually wrong in how I viewed myself, and how I thought other people thought about me.
After thinking it over, I realized the truth: that one bad hair day isn't going to change how people think about you, if they genuinely care about you. And also, almost no one you run into on a daily basis is thinking, "Oh my gosh, that girl clearly had a terrible haircut, and as a result, I think less of her." I guarantee that no one notices -- or cares -- anywhere near that much.
It sounds ridiculous written out that way, but on days where I was actually panicking about my hair, these were basically the things I was worried about. For no good reason.
If you get a bad haircut and find yourself spiraling, then it's time to take a good look in the mirror (metaphorically, obvi, you don't need to keep looking at your hair) and seriously consider why it bothers you so much when you don't look *picture perfect*.
Because it's only when you finally face your insecurities that will you be able to move onto the final stage:
Stage 5: Acceptance
Acceptance can be tricky, because even after you've faced the fact that how you look shouldn't actually be causing you to question your value as a human being, "acceptance" of a bad haircut is still going to lead to actually fixing the cut.
This might mean growing it out until it's less awkward, or it might mean going back to your hairstylist (or to a new one) to see about getting the awkward toned down.
This week, I finally got into a new hairstylist, and it was life-changing. Figuring that the cause of the bad haircut originally was miscommunication between myself and my hairstylist, I took to the internet for tips on how to actually talk to my stylist about what I wanted, and what I didn't.
The best tips I found?
- Ask lots of questions. Your stylist's job is to talk about hair, so asking them questions isn't going to bother them. Just imagine someone was asking you questions about something you love doing - you'd love it right?
- Bring pics. This is where the hours you've spent finding hairstyles on Pinterest will actually pay off. Pictures help where words fail. Don't stress about knowing all the terminology, show your stylist what you want.
- Be honest. Don't say you like something if you don't! Your stylist can't help you if they don't know what you do or don't like.
I followed these tips, and now I have a haircut I don't cringe at. Miracles can happen, folks.
What about you?
Have you ever had a terrible haircut? Or had a good haircut grow in weird? What did you do about it? Do you have any tips for surviving a bad cut? A go-to bad haircut fix? Bobby pin tips?