I paid for a terrible haircut; what now?
June 18, 2022 12:21 PM   Subscribe

A few days ago, I went to stylists to fix hair I initially messed up myself. About 2 months ago, I got it in my head I wanted a wolf cut and did it myself. It didn't go well. After 2 months of growing my hair out and hiding it in hairbands, I tried to get fixed, seeing two hair stylists. Its the worst haircut I've had in my life.

I wanted to give it a few days to make sure I wasn't feeling emotional and overreacting, but my haircut is pretty terrible and it's lopsided. I did the lopsided layers initially, but that is also the explicit reason I went to stylists, to fix the uneven cut I gave myself.

I've cut my own hair a few times since the pandemic; sometimes with better results than others. I hadn't recently beyond maintaining my bangs. But my hair had gotten long enough that I wanted to cut it, and watched a bunch of videos on wolfcuts.

It initially went well, but I was un I made the mistake of trying to do some freehand trimming of the layers to shorten it and THIS I screwed up. It got to a point where I realized the sides were uneven and I didn't have the know how to correct, so I just stopped to preserve the length I had. I wore headbands to keep the worst of it tucked away while it grew out.

It got long enough that the headbands weren't hiding how uneven it was, and i was just sick if dealing with it, so I decided to have it fixed yesterday.

First stylist was someone who works out of her home and she's cut my hair many times before. She is a friend of a friend and a former hairdresser who started doing it out of her home. I told her that I needed a haircut to fix the mess I made; and set up t see her.

IDK what happened, but the cut she gave me was bad enough that I'm actually wondering if she wasn't impaired somehow. She's cut my hair enough over the past few years that this was not normal and I expected a much better cut.

The first big problem was she cut my bangs really short - you know how many women discover a tender age that you have to account for elasticity when cutting bags by giving themselves microbangs? That is what she did.

She also just cut off the bottom bluntly without actually trying to fix the layers or even anything out. I did ask her to go back in and try and fix/trim that, but whatever she did, I ended up with more layers and more unevenness between the two sides of my head.

I did the thing where you pretend you're happy and GTFO of there because honestly, I was afraid any more corrections would make it worse.

Enter stylist 2: I called a salon that I've been to in the past that is decent, and even though the hair dresser I saw ages ago is no longer there, I had over the years been there on and off and always got good haircuts. I explained what was up, they put me in with a more experienced stylist and got me in that day.

Explained what happened, and that while I wanted to preserve what little length I had, I was totally okay with a short style if that is what it would take to fix. Showed her a picture of what I was trying to achieve and what the other stylist was going to do.

Well... its better, but its still terrible. She couldn't do much with the too short bangs, though she did even them a bit as the other stylist left them uneven, and point cut them rather than the straight across cut the other stylist did.

The issue is that it's still lopsided and now much shorter. She just went into the existing layers and trimmed them with some point cutting and razoring. When I left, I was not living it but it was enough of an improvement I wasn't happy with it exactly, but was much happier because it looked way better than walking out of the other stylist.

When I got home, it became apparent this hair cut, while better, is still pretty bad. The two issues are that the cut does not work for my face, AND the sides are still lopsided. But now it almost looks like I have two entirely different haircuts on either side of my head. She appears to have taken the layers and give them more texture but left the lopsided layers are almost amplified. That's what I specifically asked her about when we talked about whether to clean up or to go with a shorter, different style that could just get rid of the uneven layers.

I'm not sure what I should do next and need some advice. My hair is much shorter than when I first tried to cut it myself two months ago, so there is even less hair to work with to fix this haircut. The longest layers are about an inch above my shoulders. I am suspecting a pixy cut may be the only choice left; but I don't actually know that.

I feel as though I should go back to the the salon and ask the second stylist to fix especially as that location is spendy and its a real business, not a side/home business of the first stylist. It seems to me that this should have been obvious that the sides were uneven to a specialist, especially as I went in explicitly to fix my haircut and that I was concerned about.

Or can/should I go to the salon and speak to a manager, ask them to have another stylist fix it? Is that reasonable?

Also, in case you all are wondering, yes, it really is this bad. My roommate, who is the sweetest "everything looks good on you!" person blurted out "why did you let them do that to your hair?!" before backpedaling to a combination of "its not that bad," "it will grow out quickly I'm sure (but you should use some hair serum and here are some of my hair gummies)" and "maybe you can cover it up with a scarf?"

I am half afraid to let anyone touch my hair now. It was honestly better when I cut it on my own, uneven or not. But I'm also starting to search for a job, so I need to have there be some level of professionalism, so I can't just leave it at "wait for it to grow out".

I'm not afraid of short hair if it looks good but I am afraid of just having my hair worse. This is possibly the worst haircut I've ever had in my life, and I've had some stinkers.

posted by [insert clever name here] to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total)
I think you will get much better than my ideas but when I make a mistake like this (which has never been this bad) I go somewhere new and say my kids did it and can they just make it look okay again? I give them NO other advice. THEN in cases where it’s gotten too short for it to be fixed in any other way- then I just get a pixie cut… I take a picture of Michelle Williams… But, I like pixie cuts, and they take a while to grow out but if you’re able to go through that process they will even make those bangs be okay again after like a week…. You just need to keep going to a cheaper place to get the back trimmed a little more often.
posted by pairofshades at 12:32 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Let it be for at least a week. Wear a headband/bandanna/ponytail or whatever makes it least distracting to you. Then, in a couple weeks, see if you can schedule a consultation with a hair stylist recommended by someone in your life who best meets BOTH of these criteria: conservative style (I.e., a bob is their idea of doing something fun and different) and great haircuts. You want to see a stylist whose ideal client is a corporate lawyer or management consultant. Someone who specializes in polished but not adventurous cuts. If you can get a consultation, spend it talking about strategies to edit your current cut to something you can live with while it grows out. Once you have a solid plan, schedule the cut. Then you can go back to trying more adventurous styles in a couple months.
posted by theotherdurassister at 12:36 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]

Also, I just checked what a wolf cut is because I didn’t know and it looks similar to a shag, which is what I am constantly trying to get and people are always giving me some weird Bob and when I try to get that fixed, once I got an undercut (which wasn’t and undercut, they promised, really!) and so I really feel your pain and which is why I have ended up walking into a few places with that Michelle Williams picture. Good luck! Pixies can often get that look as they grow out by the way!
posted by pairofshades at 12:38 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

What is your hair texture? If you have any natural wave or curl, it will look significantly different depending on if it’s cut dry or wet, and at different lengths it will lay very differently creating unevenness when it was even while some tension or weight was placed on it. And of course, because of gravity, the shorter your hair is, the more emphasized the curl will be, which can be very hard to account for, especially if the person has never worked with your hair before. All of this is not so much to make excuses but to suggest ideas as to why this might have happened.

As mentioned above, a grown out pixie can often look like a short shag, especially if you have the right kind of wave patterns. If I were you, I’d go for a pixie or a very simple more masculine short style, and grow it out. Depending on your energy levels for conflict and confrontation, you could either go back to that salon, talk to the manager, and ask for a discounted redo/fix, or ask someone with similar hair texture to your own where they get their haircuts and go there.

If it’s truly just the bangs that are throwing you off, give it a week of growth to see if you can just tough it out. We’ve all had to live through something like this, and it sucks but the right length for bangs can really change a whole style. You can also get some clip in bangs to play with while they grow out, which can help you determine if longer bangs will help the whole thing.

But since you mention the cut being unflattering for your face, I do highly recommend a very short cut. A pixie can look gorgeous on every face shape with every hair texture, when done with care. More structured barbershop-style cuts can be similarly lovely on a huge range of people, though they tend to work best on certain hair textures. There is a great short haircut for everyone. Whatever is going on with your hair right now, it doesn’t seem to be working for you. Some people just don’t rock above-the-shoulders hair unless it’s really short (when I try to do a shoulder grazing bob it juts out like Roseanne Rossanna-Danna) and if you can start with a better short style it will be much less troublesome to grow out.
posted by Mizu at 1:52 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]

I think you need to go to a queer barbershop where they do short women’s cuts.
posted by haptic_avenger at 1:56 PM on June 18 [13 favorites]

Growing out a pixie is also kind of difficult, so consider if you really want to go that route. If what you have now really doesn't work with your face, maybe some extensions or a weave could be a solution for the next few months.
posted by xo at 3:07 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Pixie cuts are great for summer - if you think one would look at all decent on you, I say go for it. They are incredibly fun and freeing. But definitely go to a GOOD salon, recommended by someone you trust, because all you can do after a bad pixie cut is shave it off and start from scratch.

(which is ALSO incredibly fun and freeing, but means hats for a while on work zoom calls, ask me how I know. ;)
posted by invincible summer at 3:32 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Oof, I’m sorry :/ nothing like a bad haircut to ruin a day (or summer) :/

I agree with waiting it out for a week. This will give you a chance to search for shorter haircuts that might suit you better.

I don’t know what people are calling a “pixie” these days - I would go for some kind of bob, probably (with more of this or that depending on your specifics). Growing out a short-short pixie is PAINFUL. (I was in this prison for three years. Kept trimming it to shape it as it grew out in awkward ways… never, ever again.)

I would stay away from either of those stylists. Instead, go to Yelp. Usually reviewers will name specific stylists in salon reviews, look for one people report can do your type of hair well. (Usually, stylists are better at doing hair that’s similar to their own type, just a thing I noticed but whatever.) Call the salon and ask if they’re still working (people leave all the time). If that person left, hang up before they book you with anyone else, either find out where the great stylist went or look for a new one.

As well. Regarding the first stylist. I have never had more than four good haircuts from a single stylist (even if they had my type of hair). At a certain moment, they lose the interest or motivation to stay on point.

Ah also regarding the bangs - there are ways of hiding short bangs with layers… spend this week researching that sort of thing. Or post a pic on one of the hairstyling subs on Reddit, maybe people will have ideas.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:24 PM on June 18

I’m so sorry to read about your hair troubles. It’s not exactly clear what your haircut shape is now, but if it would make you feel better in the meantime, you can get amazing clip in bangs. I firmly believe that the rest of your hair can look wonky as long as your bangs look good. If it helps, I spent half of high school with a literal mullet, even though that’s not what I wanted, I started college with a haircut that was a bob in the front and long in the back, and my mom once told me about a really inexpenwive place in chinatown where a girl who had my exact hair was getting an amazing cut, and begged me to go there- I ended up with this crazy jagged uneven edward scissorhands haircut with dozens of uneven layers , and when I asked him to fix it, another client told me that I looked amazing, and I was ushered out to pay…I had to pay my regular stylist to fix it. The good news is that it does grow back, and you can make it work in the meantime. No more cutting it though- leave it alone for at least a couple of months. Blow drying and styling will be your friend in the meantime, or just leave it be and let it do it’s thing. Bandanas and barrettes might be a good idea for styling in the meantime too!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 4:25 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

You may be reasonably gunshy about going back to the same salon but if you decide you are willing to, you are FULLY within your rights to go ask them to fix it for free. This is a very awkward move I have muscled through several times and never regretted. I don't go back to the same person—I go to a different person at the same salon. You'll need to call and explain to them that you're not happy, and that's the awkward part, that and probably making eye contact with the other stylist when you're there. But hair is a service industry, and THEY don't want unhappy customers out there either. Even if you get a pixie, if you're doing it solely because you hate your haircut you shouldn't have to pay again. (Obviously tip the new stylist.)
posted by babelfish at 4:43 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

When I was itching for a shag haircut I tried many younger stylists to no avail and then stopped asking entirely and going for a lob instead. Several years later I moved and found a stylist in their late 50s. Wanted a shag haircut again, asked and it came out perfect. Maybe try someone who has posted many examples of the haircut you want on social media or find someone old enough to have learned this style when it was first popular (mid 80s I think?).
posted by fiercekitten at 6:33 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]

It seems unlikely to me (but of course not impossible) that two completely separate stylists have separately both cut your hair lopsided. How was your hair parted when it was cut, and are you parting it there now?

It's vitally important to my hair looking lopsided or not that it gets parted in the same spot as how it was cut. I've got a double crown so no matter where I part my hair it gets jacked up past a certain latitude, so stylists always ask me where I want to part my hair. (I don't know if this is as involved a conversation for people with easier parts.)

My natural part falls just left of center, and because I'm lazy, last time I got my hair cut (a simple short bob) I had them cut it to my natural part. If I do a side part, my hair is several inches longer on one side than the other. If I do a middle part, it's about an inch off in the other direction. Even a very slight difference in how I part my hair is NOTICEABLE. I've got very straight hair so for me there's no place to hide.
posted by phunniemee at 9:10 PM on June 18 [5 favorites]

I know it's summer, but... maybe a wig?
posted by kschang at 9:31 PM on June 18

I think get the second stylist to redo, but also abandon any attempts at this particular hairstyle until your hair grows out a lot.

Tell her specifically what's wrong with it now. It sounds to me like you consider the sides to be very lopsided and you want them even and/or more similar to each other. There may be other specific things you don't like. Get her to talk through exactly how she can change it to get rid of those problems and what hairstyle she recommends you have given what you've said and what's left in length. You probably have one more attempt at this, and you'll end up with (from the sounds of the lengths you had) some version of a short bob.

I have a pixie cut. I agree with others that unless you've always wanted one you should leave it as a last resort as they are a complete pain to grow out. To the extent that after one multi-month attempt I've now decided I'm having a pixie cut forever because I cannot face any of the in-between stages.
posted by plonkee at 12:54 AM on June 19

Response by poster: Re-lopsided: it doesn’t look lopsided, the pieces of hair on one side of the head is shorter than it is on the other side, and vice versa. Example, some face framing layers just beyond the bangs, on one side come to the level of mid ear, the other side come to below the ear; whether wet or straight; towards the back there is a longer section on one side, the other cut shorter. It really looks like two different haircuts on either side, and not an (intentional) asymmetrical cut.

I really don’t get how I could have two stylists not even it out either. I initially did this (which makes sense, I didn’t know what I was doing and thought I could do it visually). But I could hide it because the discrepancy wasn’t so bad, and there was more length overall. Now it’s as if it’s accentuated and the differences are more extreme. Honestly, I suspect both attempted to just trim up what was there and for whatever reason didn’t look at what each side was doing. Maybe they both were so focused on the really terrible bangs, especially as that is what stylist 1 did first. I would be distracted by these bangs.

I can and have had many above the shoulder cuts as recently as last summer, that’s not the problem. There isn’t enough there because of the mullet-ish effects of a wolf cut. That perhaps is the complaint I have in addition to the uneven layers for a wolf cut - I need a cut with more body/volume at the top, more tapered at the bottom; which was what I showed as an example of what I was trying to achieve/wanted, and was left with it being boxy at the back, and spoke to the second stylist about trying to get it closer to the pic I had shown, and she said it was due to the woman in the picture having finer hair- it wasn’t; idk if she just didn’t have experience thinning out think hair, but I’ve had it done before (which makes me think now I should have the salon have a different stylist do it)

I had a long pixy many moons (decades!) ago that looked good. I didn’t love it, but it worked for me. (It was also to fix a bad haircut, this time from a student hairdresser out of a beauty school). I’m super not thrilled by the idea of waiting to grow one out, but I know at least in the past, a cute one could be had.

The bangs are in fact making it harder to cope, but I do expect they’ll be fine in another week or two. The uneven/lopsided sides are not a wait and see if I get used to it/grow into it cut. Waiting would only be to give it some length before trying again.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:30 AM on June 19

I'm sorry this is happening. Hair thickness can vary over the entire head, and some sections can be a little wavier than others, so the shorter length may be freeing up your hair to really highlight the unevenness of the layers. Unfortunately, waiting a bit is safest -- time gives you more to work with, and also lets gravity lend a hand. I think returning to the pro stylist for another fix attempt is a wrong move.

In the short term, I would try out different hair partings/stylings, even if additional hassles, say:

- blow-drying sections with or without a round-barrel brush,
- using products like pomade, gel, or hair spray,
- wearing an anchoring "toothed" headband, wider Alice band, stretchy loop headband, or, per your sympathetic roomie, head scarf

were required to maintain the least-objectionable look and make the cut discrepancies appear either less apparent or more deliberate. I agree with previous answers about the clip-in bangs; longer fringe right now + side blending might help balance the rest of your 'do. If you're not familiar with fake fringe: How to Wear Clip-In Faux Bangs; Care Tips.

Another idea for this stage: slicking your hair down and back & wearing faux buns.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:14 AM on June 19

This is certainly a last-resort kind of suggestion, but think about getting a nice lace front wig in a fun style/color and rock it until my hair grew out enough to really fix.

I've done this before when a stylist gave me a horrible cut. I got a long, wavy wig and everyone thought it was my real hair other than my close friends who knew my hair disaster story. I wore it for a couple months and then found a better salon for a new cut.
posted by ananci at 11:03 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

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