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Image / Beauty

How to avoid pretending to like your new ‘do in the hairdresser

by Aisling Keenan
09th Oct 2018

Photo by Mikail Duran on Unsplash

Sweeping generalisation time: Irish people are terrible at complaining. How many times have we sat in front of undercooked, overcooked or just plain disgusting food rather than complaining to a waiter? I complain all. The. Time. But rarely to the person the complaint should be directed at.

One thing we have ALL done at some point? Sit silently with tears welling up in our eyes as we reassure a hairstylist “Oh, I love it, it’s perfect, thank you”, only to call our best friend immediately and sob down the phone about our newly-installed accidental mullet.

Speaking up to someone you likely have some sort of rapport with can be tricky. You don’t want to insult their work, but you feel (and look) like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. So what constructive, polite things can you say to indicate how bereft you feel?


Award-winning hairstylist and salon owner Glen Cullen ( wants us to know one thing: “We don’t bite!”

We’re sure he doesn’t, but that doesn’t make it any easier to speak up. Here’s the thing, though. Hairdressers know that clients talk, (“I think all hairstylists will have heard this saying before: you do one good thing, five people will talk. You do one bad thing, 50 people will talk,” says Glen) so they want a happy customer more than anything. They WANT to know if you’re not blissfully happy.

“Honesty really is the best policy,” Glen assures me. “If you are unhappy with your hair after it has been done, do your stylist a favour and tell them first before seeking the advice of another stylist. We appreciate feedback both positive and negative.”

Helpful phrases I’ve used in the past (and have advised others to use) are things like:

  • “I love the cut, but the colour isn’t as dark/bright/red as I thought.”

That way, you’re complimenting and conveying your disappointment in one fell swoop.

  • “Do you know what, I really don’t feel like myself with long layers. Any chance you could cut into it a bit more?”

Placing the blame back on your own preferences helps – of course this shouldn’t be necessary, but here we are.

  • “Remember the picture of Meghan Markle I showed you? I was hoping the colour would be along those lines. Could we go slightly darker?”

Being specific and referencing a picture will help you both arrive at the same destination.


On this note, Glen says that a pre-haircut or pre-colour consultation is vital to make sure you and your stylist are on the same page.

“Your idea of a colour or cut may be different from your stylist’s interpretation. Reference images can help you and your stylist achieve a look that you are happy with. And take into consideration that your stylist is human, he/she can and will make mistakes and would not intentionally give you something you don’t want.”

Also worth bearing in mind is that your salon (if worth their hair salt) should gladly alter your hair for you, for free, should you not be happy with the initial service. If you leave the salon and go elsewhere for a correction, you’ll likely have to pay all over again. So it really pays to speak up!