How to Deal with a Bad Haircut

It’s the 5 Stages of Grief, but for bad haircuts. Because bad haircuts = grief.

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How to deal with a bad haircut - tips for when you are stuck with a bad hair cut and how to fix it

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? 

14 thoughts on “How to Deal with a Bad Haircut”

  1. I wanted a longish fluffy pixie cut and was instead given a shaggy mullet. The layers are very choppy and way too short so I can’t even get it fixed because of how short it is. It’s partially my fault for not communicating clearly, but I did show pictures and none of the pictures were this short. I have bangs and the shortest layer is shorter than my bangs and it looks so weird. I am devastated and know it’s going to take a good 4 months before I can fix it.

  2. So basically I have been bullied a lot in middle school. Like A LOT. And by the ENTIRE school. I used to be skinny, passive and with short-ish hair that would reveal my big forehead (well not big but my hair starts like in the middle of my freaken head) and people would always make fun of my looks since I also have a lot of feminine facial traits. Tho, one of the many things they would make fun of was my forehead, so I decided to not cut my hair until it could completly hide it. After almost 3/4 years I ended up with a pretty nice afro, that I would often style as braids, but that would (most importantly) cover my forehead. Now I’m in Belgium on an exchange and decided to cut my hair as a symbol of “change” and “moving on from the past”. I decided to go to a well known barber in Bruxelles who, first time I went there, cut my hair PERFECTLY. Thanks to him I finally felt comfortable with looking at myself in the mirror. I liked what I saw FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN MY LIFE. I was so happy and confident. But two and a half months later I decided to go back, as I stupidly thought that my hair was growing too much. Needless to say he f***** up. I don’t know what he did wrong, but he did it and now I’m left with a super weird and ugly haircut that looks nothing like the one I had before. I had even showed him a picture of myself with the hair cut that his colleague gave me, but apparently it wasn’t enough. And it sucks cause I brought this to myself. It’s been almost a month now and I am so desperate I’m resorting to Castor Oil hoping my hair will grow faster (even tho I don’t think it will). I’m happy I found this article, I feel less lonely and kinda helps when I’m down because of my haircut. Thank you

  3. Im
    Seriously devastated. Im in mourning . I decided to try another place . As i watched them cut through three cuts before my turn . I told the stylist what and how i wanted my hair cut . Then the next hing I knew . She hurting me she razoring . Among whatever else was going on . I couldnt see until the end . As she hands me a mirror to view the back i went into complete shock . !!! Terror . I wanted to scream run out the door not pay . All i did since you had to pay cash cameras all around . I choked . My hair my beautiful hair gone . No more curls no long took me a year to grow and even two bald spots . Wf!!!! Now im horrified hermit myself in our home not wanting to voice talk to anyone on the phone definitely not Ft . Ive been wearing beanies inside n even to take the trash out . Holidays are here my husband deployed i have wedding to attend. That im now not going ro . I dont want to even talk to him he try’s to be kind .right now anyone says to me i feel they just dont get it . Im in soo much pain with this . I dont know how to move past it . Im
    Shutting family /friends out .theres nothing they say helps . I feel bad they are trying so much to be supportive/ kind . I honestly feel like not being here .

  4. Thank you all for your posts. One week ago I had the second-most hideous haircut in all of my 72 years. I am furious at my stylist for pushing me to do this (I have resisted his ideas for 2 years) and furious with myself for giving in. All of my friends think it’s adorable but I think I look like my mom did when she was 85. I’ve been thinking of all the usual options but I really have to just wait for it to grow out. It’s a pixie and it was a bob. I have been so depressed and angry and I am a therapist so I’m supposed to know how to handle these things. Ugggggghhhhh. Thanks for listening — your posts helped me feel less alone and less crazy.

  5. I’m actually so depressed right now ladies. Haven’t been to a hairdresser for a long time as I always have bad experiences (i mean really bad).I have been cutting my own fringe for year and never trusted a hairdresser! I let me guard down a though I’ll just get a professional to trim it up. Well she has cut it so short I honestly just want to cry and stay in bed! My husband says it’s not that bad but I honestly hate it! I don’t know what to do!

    • hey, how are you feeling right now? 🙂
      just wanted to know if it got better, because some time has passed
      and i guess that you hair grew!

    • I’m so depressed too. I went to the hairdresser for the first time and my mom made me cut off four inches. The thing is that the hairdresser ended up cutting off closer to six. I’m super insecure about it now and I don’t want to go back to school today.

  6. I tried to blend in my curtain bangs (also self cut) to the rest of my hair which was permed last 2019. I hate the way my ‘face framing layers’ look with my wavy/curly hair (I feel like it would look okay somehow if I had my naturally straight hair) and since the government imposed another lockdown I can’t even go to the salon to have a hairstylist fix it ’cause I know it can still be salvaged. The worst part is I know I did this to myself. 😞

  7. I used to have really thick hair that I was super proud of, but since quarantine my mom has given me a hand full of hair cuts. Before quarantine I went to the hair dresser and told her to give my hair texture… instead she decided to straighten it cut it super short and make it thinner?! Well it grew back (it’s still quite thin though) and like I said my mom has been giving me hair cuts, and she was trimming the perfect amount, but today I when I asked for a couple centimeters off, she lopped off 2 inches. So now I’m sad because I can’t very well tell her she did a bad job, but it’s thin and short just like when my old hair dresser did it and I’m spiraling :,|

  8. I have just had a bad haircut, about four hours ago, and I am still in the anger stage damn it

    I know where it went wrong obviously, as I hadn’t been to this hairdresser before, and she hadn’t seen me before, and she saw me after my hair had been washed by another lady there, so she had no idea what it looked like

    I have a pixie cut normally, but it’s very fluffy and I have an insecurity about not having a long fringe, so my fringe was very long when I went into the hairdressers, and she took off so much of my fringe that it is well above my eyebrows, and my cowlick is causing it to part
    I also have a wide face, so I quite honestly resemble a sad egg right now, and there isn’t actually anything that can be done to it, so I’m going to have to suck it up damn it

  9. Unfortunately I found myself in this scenario yesterday. I hadn’t had a haircut since January 2020, and looked forward to this haircut during a particularly stressful time at work and in my personal life (in addition to the pandemic). I created a Pinterest board, texted her the link the morning of the appointment, and scheduled a consult before the cut but she still screwed it up. I wear glasses and could not see what she was doing until the end when she handed me my glasses for the big reveal. I was completely devastated when I saw it. She gave me a 12 year old boy’s haircut. I didn’t ask for a pixie, and there is absolutely no framing around my face. I feel so unfeminine and ugly. My hair is too short to fix in any way. Unfortunately, I had somewhere to be today and all my friends said they liked it but let’s be honest…they wouldn’t want to be wearing this haircut. It is the type of cut that women think is “brave” and “bold” to have. This was not the look I wanted,and now I dread looking into the mirror even more than before. My hair has always been my best feature as a plus size women, and now I don’t even have that. No one gets it though because in outer “positive vibes only” society, it is not ok to be authentically upset about anything or to have it minimized. Ugh, I needed to vent about this because I feel so alone and petty in that I’m depressed by a horrible haircut but that’s the truth. Thank you for your post,,and I hope others in this sucky situation can at least find an ounce of comfort in knowing they’d not alone and someone gets it.

    • Cianna,
      I totally get this! I feel like we might be soul sisters-I too had a horrific haircut today and I’m also plus size which means I over value how my hair looks. I was so distraught that I called my mom to tell her about it and began bawling over the phone. Luckily my hair still had a tiny bit of length, and I was able to go to someone else to have it “fixed” but I still hate the cut. I too look like a teenage boy or a belieber, if you will, and I can’t wait until it grows out-BUT I will say that this has opened an opportunity for me to focus on other features that I have. I can’t do anything but wait for my hair to grow out and start fresh, but I can focus on other things that make me feel beautiful and I know you have them too!

      Hang in there!

  10. Two weeks ago I got a terrible haircut. AWFUL and the stylist cut it so short that there’s no fixing it. I have to wait for it to grow back. And since the idiot cut it so short underneath it’s going to take YEARS.

    This was my first haircut since before lockdowns began. I had a picture of myself with the haircut I wanted. Instead of cutting my hair the way I asked she did whatever she felt like.

    The whole time she kept commenting how jealous she was of my thick hair. So she undercut to SO much that it looks really thin now. My thickness and my curls are a thing of the past. Ruined by someone who didn’t even understand basic curly phrases.

    • This happened to me today…. idk what to do and I certainly cant go out like this…. I went to another stylist and he told me it was too short to do anything with it… so I have to live with it now until it grows out… it’s gonna take years idk how I’m gonna deal with it
      I hate the person who did thus to me…


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