Help! I hate my new hair do!

Your hairdresser has finished your cut/colour and… YOU HATE IT! What do you do? Layered Online editor Amanda Nottage asks Jonathan Long and Paul Bingham at London’s Lockonego to get their advice on how to handle it right there and then in the salon

This is a very personal story. When I was 22, I skipped along to my local hairdresser, clutching a picture of pixie-haired Natalie Imbruglia, and asked for The Chop. An hour later, handing over my money with a quivering lip, I emerged with very short hair and dented self-esteem. I made it to the corner of the road before hot tears starting streaming down my cheeks. That hairdresser had made me look like Hitler. I HATED my new hair do.

You think I’m exaggerating? Please see below and judge for yourself. It is my NUS card from the late ‘90s, but even so – you can see the comparison.

Fast forward 15 years and I’m the editor of a hair magazine, returning from maternity leave with extremely long hair. I have a cut in mind, and I’m going to donate my lengths to The Little Princess Trust. I visit my long-term hairdresser, a celebrity in hair circles, with absolute confidence. Again, two hours later, I emerge heartbroken. Half way through, when I could see the cut was shorter than the inverted LOB I had asked for (and in no way inverted), I piped up that perhaps that was enough off. “Amanda, I’ve been waiting YEARS to do this!” he barked, and continued unrepentant. You can see the results below, and that was a couple of weeks later – I didn’t want any immediate photographic evidence…

I was more sanguine this time; at least my hair was being donated to a good cause (helping make wigs for children) and I could have a proper play with bleach now that I didn’t need to worry about the condition of my long lengths. But ever since, I have been WARY about visiting a new hairdresser for anything more than a trim. Colour, I’m happy to experiment. But hair being cut off? Caution is my middle name. Well, that and Kate.

And in both instances, I didn’t complain. I probably said I was happy, and was terribly British and polite about the whole thing, while quietly wigging out inside my brain. And I hate myself for that.

So, I wanted to speak to a hairdresser I knew would speak to me frankly about how best to, well, complain to them! One man jumped to mind immediately – Jonathan Long, co-founder of Lockonego on London’s Kings Road. There’s no BS with our Jonny.

“Okay, if you’re not liking what your stylist has just done, we’re not in a great place,” he admits with a laugh. “I believe this has to come from bad communication, alongside a bad consultation, but I honestly feel it’s pretty rare that stylists get it wrong in this day and age. We are open to so many images online and in magazines that to not find one picture that communicates what you like or are after is crazy. A picture can cut through a thousand words and even showing pictures of stuff you hate can help!”

“A great stylist shouldn’t be offended if you bring a photo or some kind of reference in to show. If as a client you have any doubts what so ever then it’s not the right time so go away and re think. Do not just go ahead and do it just because you’re there. It can wait ‘til you and your hairdresser are ready and on the same page.”

“Unfortunately, there’s no great way of telling anyone you don’t like something, let alone your hairdresser. But it needs to be done. As creative artistic types, we can be a tad sensitive when receiving negative feedback, but at the end of the day the customer has to be happy.”

“The best way to deal with a cut you don’t like is to lose it. But not your temper! Keep cool and calm while you explain what you don’t like. Then either rethink the whole style and go shorter or tie/pin/scape it back so it’s out of sight and out of mind. Then start the process of growing it back by really looking after it, plenty of great conditioner, so you can go through to the next cutting point.”

Thanks Jonny. Now Paul Bingham, you head up all the colour services at Lockonego.

What happens if a customer hates the colour you’ve just created?

“If a client doesn’t like their colour, the next step depends on how extreme the dislike is! Sometimes it can be remedied on the day – such as if a colour was too dark, a light colour cleanse using colour remover can shift the depth of the colour to a more desired result. However, to me, colour correction depends greatly on the condition of the hair. How achievable it is to get a client to a colour that they are then happy with? It’s always easier to take a client’s colour darker as opposed to going lighter. Toning a colour down is a lot less stressful on the hair and is also a faster fix!”

“In rare occasions, a client may need to give the hair a rest in between colour services to allow the hair to recover from what they’ve just had before they come in again for a recolour service. Hair should be treated with a salon recommended shampoo, conditioner and weekly treatments to boost hair strength and texture.”

Okay, thanks boys for the tips. From my perspective? Remember to breathe, keep calm and start playing with products, grips, hairbands, clips, spray-in colours, clip-in extensions… ANYTHING that will make it bearable in the medium term. There will be a solution to keep you going, even if you don’t love your hair for a little bit.