Mitigating a bad haircut
August 2, 2007 9:59 PM   Subscribe

How do I mitigate a bad haircut?

I paid fifty bucks to a cutter/owner to whom I showed a picture of what I wanted. She gave me a variation on the picture that I can only describe as a shag/mullet. It's hideous. I can't go over her head, as she owns the place, and I don't trust her to change it into something that I can live with.

Because I've always kept my hair very long and never styled it, I don't know a thing about mitigating a bad haircut. Googling around is exhausting and kinda disheartening. So, please, hivemind women who have had this nasty experience, can you give me a couple websites that specialize in camouflaging a bad haircut? I'm thinking barrettes more than scarfs, but sure, scarfs, etc.
posted by goofyfoot to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by k8t at 10:05 PM on August 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

I'd say get it cut again, for free. Say you don't like it and you want another haircut - shorter, obviously, but better too.

I just got a haircut and the guy pretty much forgot to cut the back and part of the sides. I came back an hour later and said "this is... weird and mullety." And a girl trimmed it up, commenting on how poorly the previous guy (who was right there) had done it. Worked out fine and it looks pretty good now.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:23 PM on August 2, 2007

And then you said you don't trust her to change it, because I did not read the question thoroughly. Sorry, please ignore me.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:24 PM on August 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

Sidekick with a worse haircut ?
posted by iamabot at 10:25 PM on August 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

No you don't.

The most I'll say is my hair looks as tho I were a not-quite-separatist lesbian in the first Reagan administration. Or think Sharon Gless in Cagney and Lacey (not the pilot, with the poodle hairdo, but the later seasons, with Tyne Daly). (As best I can remember.) Alternately, Fonda in Klute with fewer bangs and more feathering.

Can you feel my grief?
posted by goofyfoot at 10:25 PM on August 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

I wear scarves quite a bit myself: folded into a width of about 2-3 inches, around the top of my head at the base of my bangs and tied at the neck underneath the hair. If you're shaggy on top you could pull some of that hair out to soften it the hairline. If you can't get it fixed right away, pretty fabrics and bright colors could help to detract attention from the hair itself. This might not mitigate the mulletness, though; if you actually have a mullet I wouldn't know how to fix that without cutting the long back part the same length as the front...(but then I'm not a hairdresser). As k8t says, without actually seeing it, I wouldn't really know what to advise.

If your hair isn't too thick, could you smooth it back and affix with a headband of some sort? They sell quite nice, non-80s ones at places like Target. That might hide the actual cut.
posted by frobozz at 10:30 PM on August 2, 2007

If your hair is shorter than you'd like to begin with, you're gonna have to think it'll grow back. Go there and tell them that you're very unhappy with it and that it doesn't look anything close to the style you wanted or had in mind. Tell her if she doesn't understand what kind of style the picture represents, to give you a money back. They don't like to give money backs, but they might do partial return. There'll be someone with similar length of hair and I'd ask where she/he got it from.

I've had many experiences like that and I gave up after a while..I look for someone who can do a decent trim then I'll talk to them while getting a hair cut about what kind of styles they like to do, then go for similar the next time I need my hair done.

It can be sooo upsetting if you get a bad hair cut, I can relate. But it'll grow back...I promise.
posted by icollectpurses at 10:34 PM on August 2, 2007

I just wound up with a Jane-Fonda-in-Klute myself today, from a stylist who did a great job last time, so I'm in the same boat. (Ack! It's apparently a trend.)

(Damn. On preview, you did get a Klute. I swear, the stylist hive mind is conspiring against us.)

What do you hate the most? The layers? The shortness around the face? I'd suggest either:

1) Biting the bullet and getting the long mulletty bits cut off (by someone else) so that you end up with a less layered, less feathered, chin length bob. Yes, it will take a few months to grow back to a more comfortable length for you, but it won't be a mullet, either.

2) Keeping all or most of the length, but styling the shit out of it to make the layers less obvious. You may need some product to lightly smooth it down, and you may need to properly style with a hairdryer and brush, at least for the first week or so. I've found that washing and hand combing my hair every now and then until it dries produces decent, loose waves pretty quickly.

See what it looks like tucked behind your ears (if the front pieces are long enough to tuck), and sure, see what a hairband, scarf or barrettes do.
posted by maudlin at 10:36 PM on August 2, 2007

Or think Sharon Gless in Cagney and Lacey...Alternately, Fonda in Klute

Sort of like this or this? If it's as long as either of those you've got just enough to work with to pull it back, I think, so you only have to deal with the front part until it grows back or you get a better cut (I don't mean in a little ponytail, but with the ends tucked and pinned under in as much of a modified bun as you can get it. I don't know if I'm being helpful, I'm just kind of putting ideas out. Sorry if it's completely impractical for how your hair is now!).
posted by frobozz at 10:41 PM on August 2, 2007

This is another reason why men have it easier than women; I got a really bad haircut once, and I dealt with it by deciding it was time to see what I looked like with a shaved head.

(better, as it turns out.)
posted by davejay at 10:45 PM on August 2, 2007

Hats, or hell- a wig.

Failing that, see if you can get someone else to re-texturize it for you. You might also experiment with a curling iron/straightener.
posted by solongxenon at 10:55 PM on August 2, 2007

frobozz - going by your first link, I'm more Lacey than Cagney.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:01 PM on August 2, 2007

your best bet is asking around for a GOOD hairdresser (preferably one a friend goes to and trusts) and going to them for help. growing out can take a Looooooong time when you hate a haircut - it's better to cough up some more money to end up with something you can live with for a while.

in the interim: as others have said, scarfs and wide headbands. very retro, very cute.

i feel your pain - sorry!
posted by wayward vagabond at 11:17 PM on August 2, 2007

So I need instruction! I don't know how to use scarves - when I've tried, they just slide off my head. There must be a website with tips. My mother gave me a ca. 1970s instruction sheet, which would be great if I wanted to look like someone from the 70s.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:24 PM on August 2, 2007

A friend of mine once told me that, "The difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is 2 weeks."

That's not invariably true, but it usually is.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:35 PM on August 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

You'll be paying another $50 though.

Why? My experience is that 10-20 dolla haircut places are more or less just as good (as are free cuts from friends with hobbyist knowledge).

Either way, just get another haircut from a different stylist. Annoying, but no big deal. Maybe capitalize on the experience by trying something new. If you've "always kept your hair long" you may be surprised to discover there are short cuts that fit you better.
posted by dgaicun at 11:49 PM on August 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

When I've had hair that's long in the back and short in the front, one styling option I've used is this: take the back and gather it together as though it's a ponytail. Then, twist the ponytail till it can twist no more. Hold that twisted tail vertically along the center back of your head, with the tail end pointing skyward. Fasten horizontally across with a barette, about two inches from the end of the tail. Then tousle the short front part, and use a bit of gel or spray to keep it messy. The result will look like a cutely disheveled french twist, as though you did your hair up fancy in the morning, and then had a rowdy afternoon.
posted by xo at 11:50 PM on August 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

Is your hair curly or wavy? You can carefully snip away in the areas that don't work with those that do.

Finding an affordable and good hair cutter/stylist is ridiculously difficult... like finding a good dentist or doctor... sometimes more difficult. (I'm not that picky, I just don't like looking like Q-Tip head.)
posted by dtp at 12:14 AM on August 3, 2007

If there's too much difference in length you need to get that evened out. A fluffy short cut beats a mullet any day. Also try blowdrying/curling/straightening the cut against how it's falling naturally, you never know how that might work to your advantage.

I would go back and ask your stylist why the cut doesn't look like the picture. Maybe she'll say something logical, like "you have fine, straight hair, not thick curly hair as in this picture," and you'll learn something. In any case, she'll have another go at it for free, but you can feel free to weep and rend your garments to another cheap stylist instead. I too have just as much faith in cheapo haircuts, although I try to stick with the places that keep a computerized record of your cut. (Great Clips for me)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:24 AM on August 3, 2007

Going against the grain...

Don't run back to another stylist immediately. You've said that you don't have a lot of experience with styling. Give yourself a few days to learn how to deal with the cut. Otherwise, you'll go to stylist 2 without the necessary details to effectively fix the cut. You need to give specific feedback or else the fix-cut isn't likely to fix anything. You don't have hair to spare at this point, so you'll want the first fix-cut to do the job.

Normally, I'd suggest going back to the original stylist and asking her to teach you how to style your hair. In this case, you might be better off playing with the style on your own. For playtime, you'll probably need some texture products (mousse, gel), hair clips, barrettes, flat iron, curling iron. Call a few girlfriends and ask for help. Ask if they can loan you some products to sample. You need to try a bunch of products which can be expensive and most of them will be duds for you. Also, your friends will have some good ideas on potential styling. Even if your friends are completely ungirly, they will be able to make suggestions - bad haircuts are a universal experience.

After you've played with your hair and some hair products, you'll know what is it you're trying to fix. When you go to the next stylist, you can say this set of layers is too long or this transition from shorter to longer layers is too choppy. Also, you should think about the "rules" you want to give the stylist. For instance, one of my rules is that the shortest layers must be long enough to pull into a pony tail.

Good luck Gorgeous!
posted by 26.2 at 3:31 AM on August 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

If people ask you about it, tell them it's ironic.
posted by unSane at 4:59 AM on August 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

Get a new haircut somewhere else. Eat the expense and chalk it up to "lessons learned."
posted by Afroblanco at 5:29 AM on August 3, 2007

I got a haircut from a woman who was way too enthusiastic about layers. I left with a Bowie-esque mullet and it took over a year to recover. I'd get the bottom layer trimmed up as high as possible every month or so while letting the top layers grow (slowly, so slowly!).

In the meantime, I wore a lot of these, which can be worn scrunched up as a headband or stretched back into a headscarf kind of thing (my preferred way of wearing them). I liked them because they were a lot faster and easier than tying anything or styling.
posted by Marit at 6:13 AM on August 3, 2007

I feel your pain! I like alice bands (ohhh, those are pretty ones Marit). They can hide hairstyles pretty well. My personal tactic when confronted with a bad haircut is make my hair a really crazy colour (or colours) like hot pink or purple or black with blue stripes. I feel that people are so taken aback by the colour they don't really see the haircut (kinda like not seeing the forest for the trees). I know you are upset now, but it IS just hair, it will grow back.
posted by saucysault at 7:50 AM on August 3, 2007

I totally sympathize with you. I went to an actual hairdresser for the first time in my life about 4 or 5 months ago, and got an actual cut with layers and everything. This was also at a $50-ish place, and my well-recommended stylist lady was adamant that I come back if I wasn't happy with my haircut. I've been happy so far, and have gone back twice for maintenance since then (my hair is curly and insane, so it needs frequent pruning). Anyway: I would call them and tell them you're unhappy. Show up with your hair dry (i.e. not still damp from a shower) so that they can see what it really looks like without the salon's gel and crap in it. Then tell her exactly what's wrong, and she should be able to help you -- for free. I know you don't trust her -- and now is the time to be control freaky and insist she tell you how she's planning to fix it before she starts snipping. Believe me, her potentially thinking you're a little bitchy is much better than living with a bad haircut for weeks. Good luck!
posted by chowflap at 8:41 AM on August 3, 2007

To make scarves stay put, you need bobby pins and probably one of those wholehead rubber bands (depending on how slick your hair and the scarf is). Put the rubber band on and bobby pin the first layer of the scarf to it and then wrap the scarf decoratively. You'll want a very long scarf, if you plan to let the ends trail. You can also use wig tape, if you plan to wear the scarf at your forehead. You can buy pretty inexpensive hairscarves at your basic "ethnic hair wig shop"--a Halloween or party wig shop is not likely to have as good a selection and will be twice as expensive. The shop girl most likely will be happy to help you work it out, too.

How to pick a stylist:

Stop women on the street who have the hair you want (and whose hair looks similar to yours in texture, thickness &c) and say to them "Your hair looks beautiful; who cuts it?" Then say "May I have your name, so I can tell the stylist who referred me?" Then go to the stylist and say "Jane referred me. Her hair looks beautiful. I'd like something similar, but [with bags, higher in the back, fluffier at the crown]" Also, I'm so sorry about your hair. It's such an irritating thing to pay good money to have bad hair. It will grow, though.

posted by crush-onastick at 9:11 AM on August 3, 2007

Would you re-elect Bush so that he can fix Iraq? If not, then don't go back to the hairdresser who ruined your hair in hopes that they can now fix it.

Assuming that you can find a way to afford it, looking not awful for the next, say, six months, is worth at least another $50. You should be willing to pay any amount you can afford in order to look a way that you don't find disgusting.
posted by The World Famous at 9:17 AM on August 3, 2007

I have long, stick-straight hair. If you can't get your scarves to stay put with bobby pins or snap barrettes (or don't like having them visible), try what I do: pull your hair back in a stretch headband/comb, then use hairspray to secure it. Tie your scarf tightly over the headband, and you should be good to go for the rest of the day.

My condolences on the bad haircut... I've had long hair my whole life and I think I'd have serious trauma if I ever had to cut it short.
posted by tugena13 at 10:47 AM on August 3, 2007

Many thanks, all. I feel much less apocalyptic about it today, but it's still definitely going to require accessories. Love what Marit linked, and thanks for it's proper name, saucysalt.
posted by goofyfoot at 1:46 PM on August 3, 2007

I'm glad you're feeling better about your hair today goofyfoot. I totally feel your pain--I was given the Klute-cut last year against my wishes and I ended up in tears once I got home. It does grow out, thank God. I found it helped to go to a different stylist and get the mullety bits cut off into a chin-length bob; it made the growing-out process a lot better and actually made for a very cute interim 'do.

Good luck!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:41 PM on August 3, 2007

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