Leave a Hairstylist
June 17, 2010 1:04 PM   Subscribe

How do I leave my hairstylist who's also my friend?

So I'm friends with my hairstylist. Not super-close, but we go out drinking every couple weeks or so. She's been my stylist for 3 years now. I initially chose her because it wasn't too expensive to get a semi-trendy cut. Lately, though I've been really dissatisfied with my haircuts and I think I can afford a better stylist. So, I've tried, in the last six sessions to mention "do this" or "do that" and half of the time I get a great haircut, the other half, I get a crappy one.

And so my current plan is to just find another stylist. And if she asks to hang out, or wonders why I haven't been to see her, I'll just white lie it out, "Oh, I got a haircut from my stylist back home when I was on vacation."

I've considered saying, "I haven't really been happy with my haircuts lately, the most recent one was too short around the sides or whatever" but I just can't bring myself to do that. It seems like I should just let her go softly and move on.

What do you think?
posted by pauldonato to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think you should tell her specifically that you don't like her cuts (that is, if you want to remain friends with her). I think there are certain situations where it's totally acceptable to lie and this is one of them.

Maybe you could tell her that you have found a stylist closer to home/work or one that better fit your price range. With the latter, you don't have to say that your price range went up, just that the new stylist is a better fit with that, and that you'd still love to go out for drinks next weekend.
posted by too bad you're not me at 1:11 PM on June 17, 2010

I wouldn't go the white lie route. If she asks, just tell her in an upfront way that you needed a change and moved on. Hairstylists are professionals and they deal with this exact situation probably more often than you think. There's a good chance that she won't be as hurt as you anticipate.
posted by greasy_skillet at 1:21 PM on June 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

That's a tough thing to work through, but have you considered trying another stylist once, just to get the look you want, taking a few pictures right afterward (and/or showing your friend in person) then coming back to her to see if she can reproduce it? The problem may just be that you're asking her to experiment without showing her something concrete she can work toward. Maybe you don't need to leave her at all, at least for routine cuts.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:22 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

You know, it depends on whether you really feel she is a friend or not, and how much you want to keep that friendship. If she is someone you are friendly with, but could part with, I like greasy_skillet's approach. If she is someone you care about, I'd go with The Winsome Parker Lewis's suggestion.
posted by bearwife at 1:37 PM on June 17, 2010

It's not as tough as you think. frankly, if she's at all professional, she'll appreciate the feedback. You might also want to ask if you're asking for things that aren't possible. I know I am a difficult client - I don't know what I want, always - and without some direction it can be tough sometimes.
posted by micawber at 1:52 PM on June 17, 2010

I don't see what's wrong with sitting your friend down and saying to her exactly what you wrote up there - "I haven't really been happy with my haircuts lately." Explain why, and be specific about what it is that is causing you problems. Use those "I" statements, and be sure to find some good points to balance it out. Air your complaints, but be businesslike and fair about it.

As a professional, she needs customer feedback to know what she's doing right and what she's doing wrong. She may think she's doing a bang-up job as a stylist, and she will never think otherwise unless someone sits her down and - gently - points out areas in need of improvement. Sure, she might get her feelings hurt, but if she's a mature person (and a savvy professional), she'll see it as an opportunity to improve.

As a friend, she deserves your honesty. In the long run, what's going to make her more upset - giving her some constructive criticism about her haircutting technique or lying to her?

Sit her down and air your grievances. Be constructive, let her know that you're doing this for her benefit as much as yours. If she blows up and says, how DARE you criticize my ART, or doesn't make any change in her technique, then you've done your bit and should be free to say, "I talked to you about this, you didn't listen to me, I'm outta here."
posted by MShades at 2:00 PM on June 17, 2010

Yeah this is a hard one. If she's pricey or there is some service she doesn't offer, you can always go with I decided to save some money or I wanted to get X done and decided to get my hair cut at the same time. If she's out of your way, you could say you started going somewhere near your house/work because you've been so busy.

I have to disagree with a lot of the people above. While in a perfect world we could all take criticism in stride, I think it is very naive to think telling her you are unhappy with her work will not affect your friendship. Even if she takes it professionally, she will still be hurt and embarassed by her subpar work. You really need to decide whether you value your hair or her friendship more. Personally I would just start going to someone else and not say anything. If she asks I would probably say I just felt like something new or make up a white lie.
posted by whoaali at 2:15 PM on June 17, 2010

Don't go back to have your hair cut, call to arrange drinks as normal, if she asks you why you've not been in for a haircut say you've found somebody nearer to work/home/the gym and have been going there. If she's got any sense at all she'll not ask or at least leave it at that.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:39 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm usually one for directness and honesty, but I here's what I would do, assuming both of you are looking to avoid conflicts and preserve a casual friendship.

Lie about the first new-stylist cut you get. "I was on vacation" is a great one. Second non-her cut you get, don't mention it. She will likely notice it, but I doubt she'd mention it. Assuming she's a reasonable person, not looking to start a fight, she'll take the hint and figure it out. If not cut #2, than 3 for sure. I'd be willing to bet she won't take it personally. If she does take it personally, she'll probably get over it.

Of course this is also an excellent way to find out if this is a very touchy subject for her which she'd rather nuke the friendship for than pretend and lie for social courtesy. In which case, I'm not sure there is anything you can do other than take sub-par hair cuts indefinitely.
posted by fontophilic at 2:40 PM on June 17, 2010

I have two friends who are stylists, and at one point I decided I liked one better than the other for cuts. The other, who I don't see for cuts, has never really said anything about me not coming to see her. I just make sure I don't complain about my hair (wavy problem hair) or prompt a conversation about hair. It has never come up. I'm sure she noticed, but she never mentions it. I wouldn't lie, but maybe don't make it WAY obvious. If you don't act like it is a big deal, chances are she won't either.
posted by Swisstine at 3:52 PM on June 17, 2010

Thanks for the good input. I'm probably going to go with @greasy_skillet's suggestion.
posted by pauldonato at 8:04 PM on June 17, 2010

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