What to Do If You Don't Like Your Haircut or Color

You're not (totally) doomed.

Model stands outdoors and looks down while running their hands through their hair.
Photo: Getty Images

It happens to the best of us: You walk into a salon with ambitions of Gisele-like layers, only for the color to fade after one shampoo, or worse, you end up leaving with a much different cut than you expected.

So, what's the protocol to follow if you aren't satisfied with your final result? We spoke to Matrix celebrity stylist George Papnikolas, along with fellow hairstylist to the stars Monae Everett, to outline exactly what to do. And as it turns out, the phrase "speak now or forever hold your peace" isn't one reserved solely for the wedding chapel.

How Do I Tell My Stylist That My Color Looks Off?

If your color ends up brassier than you wanted, bring it up with your stylist while you're still in their chair.

"Ideally, you would address it in the salon, and your stylist will tell you if they're too busy and you'd need to come back, but we can usually fix it right there," Papnikolas says. "Most things are quick, easy fixes, and it's something I'd rather you tell me instead of you leaving miserable."

Everett points out that it's also just as important to listen to your stylist. "Be as straightforward as possible with an explanation of what you don’t like," she shares. "Pull up photos and show us what you would like to be done differently. But be open to hearing the stylist give a professional explanation of why they feel your hair turned out this way and what they recommend to rectify the situation."

What Should I Say to My Stylist If I Don't Like My Cut?

For haircuts, determine just how much length you're comfortable having chopped off, and exactly what cutting off one inch will look like before your stylist picks up the scissors. "You want to set yourself up for success in the appointments by bringing lots of pictures, and taking two minutes to have a real consultation," Papnikolas advises.

However, if even after your service you're not feeling your look, you should still say something. "Speak to your stylist with the same professional level of respect that you would expect when receiving constructive criticism at work," Everett explains. "I have found that working through issues with clients normally makes the relationship stronger. This allows the hairstylist to really get to know you as a client and your likes. This can help you to avoid issues in the future."

VIDEO: 10 Heat Protectants That Keep Styling Tools from Frying Your Hair

I Accidentally Screwed Up My Color at Home, Should I Tell My Stylist?

There are situations, particularly with hair color, where one shampoo will alter the shade to one that's different from what you had when walking out of the salon. It's not exactly an easy conversation to have, but you should be honest with your hairstylist so they can help.

"Our salon rule is that if you let us know within a week, we can fix the color free of charge," Papanikolas says. "The great thing about color is, unless your hair has been burned off, it can usually be fixed if it needs to be adjusted or tweaked."

However, keep in mind that pastel tones wash out much more quickly than most other colors. If your red, brunette, or blonde has completely faded after the first time you shampoo up post-salon, alert your stylist. "In that situation, it's acceptable to come back to the salon, but in general, toners will wash out after a few weeks," he adds.

And no matter what, never ever attempt to fix your color at home. "We all want to be 'do-it-yourselfers,' but most of the time with chemicals, it does not go as well as desired," says Everett. "If you attempt a chemical, like a hair color, relaxer, or pond and it does not turn out the way you intended, it is normally more expensive to correct your errors."

I Made a Spur-of-the-Moment Decision, and Now I Hate It. Help!

One of the most common situations where the client ends up unhappy with the final result is when the hair change was spurred by an emotional decision, whether it was a breakup or promotion.

We can't drive the point home hard enough: do not do this.

"Those are tough because you probably won't be happy," Papanikolas tells us. "You get calls in those situations where it's like, 'I want to dye my hair dark,' then they hate it and want to go back. In those cases, we do charge. Be patient with your stylist and don't do those emotional hair changes!"

Another cardinal rule? Unless you truly want your stylist to go all out with their creative streak, don't tell them they're allowed to do whatever they want. "Don't ever say that to a stylist!" he says, laughing. "We're really creative, so we'll get crazy."

Updated by
Kayla Greaves
Kayla Greaves
Kayla Greaves is the Executive Beauty Editor for InStyle, overseeing all beauty coverage on the site. She has previously held positions at HuffPost and Bustle.
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