Splitting Hairs...
November 6, 2012 10:56 AM   Subscribe

How do I break-up with my hair stylist? (But with complications...)

I've been going to the same hair stylist for the past two years or so now. She knows my life story, pretty much (I think that hair stylists should also be licensed therapists, but I digress). I usually like the haircuts she gives me, but am not totally in love with them either. They're pretty basic, and every other time I see her, I get a full foil and/or a conditioning treatment. Her color skills and choices are ok. She is middle aged, nice as can be, but works a schedule that is oftentimes difficult for me to work around. We hug when I show up for an appointment. She asks me about my house and minutia from the last time I saw her. She remembers everything.

For the past several weeks, she's been away on maternity leave, so I had to schedule an appointment with a different hair stylist at the same salon, because I was at the point of can't-wait-another-day-of-this. I went to see her just to get a haircut and...she pretty much gave me one of the best haircuts ever that totally works for me and my lifestyle and love, love, love it! I've never walked out of that salon feeling like that before. This hair stylist is younger and funkier, and I am so curious as to what she can do with color!

Anyway, I don't need a haircut again for a few weeks but when I go back there I'm planning on a cut and foil for the holidays. After my experience with the new hair stylist, I think I'd hands down prefer going back to her because she was just so spot on. However, the two hair stylists work together at the same salon (which is small, there's only 14 or so chairs). All of the stylists there are close friends, and it easily falls into the category of "frou-frou", what with their exposed brick, mint mineral water, back massages while getting hair washed and organic, animal-free, high-end salon products that cost in the upwards of $40 for a tube of hair goo. It's my one spendy indulgence.

Am I a bad person for wanting to switch stylists in the same salon? How do I switch? Is it poor ettiquitte? Could I go to both?
posted by floweredfish to Human Relations (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The only way I can really see this working is if you go in when the old hair stylist is unavailable but the new one is working. You can always tell the original woman that your schedule has totally changed but you really like the salon so you will like to stay a customer but at new times. Hopefully she will take the hint or just accept that your "schedule" changed.
posted by saradarlin at 11:05 AM on November 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

You are not a bad person. Personally, I would have switched ages ago if I didn't love the cut I was getting.

If you want to avoid offending her, which I assume you do, when you make your next appointment, ask for what her schedule is, and then say it's not possible to do that with your schedule, and are there any time [new stylist] is available outside of aforementioned hours? It's also reasonable to assume that post-maternity leave, she'll be on a reduced schedule, so this may be easier. After getting into a pattern with the new stylist it'll be a sort of organic transition. Then if you do (after a few months) see your original lady again, you can hug and catch up.

It's not the most direct way, but since you want to avoid offending her it's probably the easiest way. I also wouldn't be surprised if she was on a reduced schedule -- my hairdresser went from full-time, down to 2 days a week, after her maternity leave.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:10 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think if you go in and see her, give her a hug, let her chat with you if she wants, but otherwise keep it moving.

Think of it like this:

She's your ONE hair-stylist.
You are one of SEVERAL clients.

She may care for you as a client, but she won't be heart broken that you are getting your hair done by someone else, particularly if you still say hi and greet her like a person she's known for a while and has a relationship with.
posted by spunweb at 11:11 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nope, you're allowed to switch stylists.

It can be awkward, but it needn't be. I did it and sure, my old guy was a tad miffed, but after a while it was fine.

If you can schedule around your old sylists schedule that might ease a lot of the awkwardness.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:13 AM on November 6, 2012

I did this at my very similar sounding salon. The way I worked it was to make appointments with my new stylist on days that I knew my old stylist wasn't working for the first six months or so. Given that I live in a smallish town, and that my old stylist and I were part of the same social circle, it was super obvious that I had switched stylists. Given that my old stylist is kind of a gossipy snotface at times (this is possibly related to why I switched), it could have been incredibly awkward. But I just remained suuuuuuper breezy about it, and it never got awkward. Now, when I go in to the salon and both are working, old stylist waves and smiles and occasionally comes over to say hi, and it is just fine.

Breezy. The answer to eliminating awkward in all kinds of situations is to just stay breezy.
posted by amelioration at 11:19 AM on November 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

Call up, ask for old stylist, say "Oh no! My schedule just won't allow me to see her, rats! Oh well, how about new stylist, I suppose I can settle for her, it is an emergency."

Also, maybe you could buy old stylist a small baby present and card, saying "sorry to have missed you, good luck with everything!"

That's what I would do, I hate hurting people.
posted by katypickle at 12:07 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't make a big deal out of it, and it won't be. I've had the occasional client swap-over with fellow stylists, and have never been upset or offended to be the dumpee. Sometimes it's just not a good fit. The only time this became an issue was with one client who used to give me a (totally unprompted) song and dance every time she came in, rationalising her decision to see someone else, kind of faux apologising in this really smarmy way, and it got to the point where I just wanted to say to her, "I honestly couldn't care less that you're no longer my client, because you're actually quite annoying."

Honestly, just keep booking in with the new stylist, and if an appointment happens to coincide with your old stylist's schedule, just smile and say hey and act like it's no big thing. I can guarantee that she's already aware that you've seen sometime else (a stylist on maternity leave generally expects it). If pressed, I would just stick to your reason being a scheduling one.
posted by catch as catch can at 2:10 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stylists know what's going on. Call up the salon while old stylist is still on maternity leave and have a chat with new stylist. Tell her you love the hair. Tell her you love talking with old stylist, but you'd be thrilled to swap over if she thinks that would be okay. Ask her for info on when old stylist is coming back, and if she knows if that'll be full-time. Say awesome things about old stylist. (thus, if they ever talk about you, which is not entirely likely, new will be able to say "floweredfish was nothing but complimentary and said she'd miss talking with you")

When you see old stylist, be friendly, but not overly apologetic. At this point you like her on a personal level, but you prefer the other stylist on a professional level - so leave professional stuff out of it. Don't gush about the new hair stuff or make any comparisons, just acknowledge that it was time for a stylistic change; spend a few minutes talking with her on a personal connection - ask about her, and the baby, give her an update of things that were going on with you last time you spoke.
posted by aimedwander at 9:21 PM on November 6, 2012

Your old stylist is going to have pretty limited hours even once she's back from maternity leave. I think switching won't be nearly as hard or awkward as you fear.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:09 AM on November 8, 2012

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