How To Deal With A Traumatic Bad Hairstyle

One of the greatest, most inevitable traumas in life is the curse of the bad haircut. Just like there’s nothing that can boost your confidence like walking out of a salon with a flawless, split end-free blowout, there’s nothing that can kill it like leaving with a hack job cut or coloring fail. I recently suffered from the latter, and despite what my friends assured me, it was not pretty.

When I sat down in the salon chair, I had example photos on my iPhone, ready to shorten my lob and refresh my subtle dirty blonde ombre, lightening it just a touch. What I left with was a bright blonde top layer, a dark brown underside, and the “Rachel” cut (not to mention eyebrows that were way darker than my hair color, and not in a cool, model-y way.)

I was, in a word, distraught. I was leaving for a networking trip in a few days, and though I’d wanted to put my best hair forward when I met with editors and publishers, this was not what I’d bargained for. Like a good little beauty journalist, I started on a mission to figure out what on earth I was going to do. Here are nine things I now know when it comes to handling a bad haircut:

1. Breathe

It sounds so simple, but I swear to you, this will help. The more I thought about my new hair, talked about it, or looked at it in the mirror, the more upset I got — I was reduced to tears several times over the first couple of days of having it. I had to remind myself to calm down; after all, things have a way of working themselves out, even when it comes to God-awful hair. Trust that.

2. Don’t DIY

I repeat. DO. NOT. DIY. Unless you have gone to cosmetology school, you will probably make it worse. I know this from past experience: before I decided that the only option I had to repair my formerly fabulous bangs was to grow them out (RIP, bangs,) I tried to trim them myself. I’d always been able to do it with my wispy, cute little fringe, but that wasn’t working for me once one hairdresser made them so blunt that they started halfway back on my head. Not a good look. I made it worse. #neverforget

3. Take a shower

You know how you can never get a new hairstyle quite the same as it was when you walked out of the salon? Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Starting from scratch and styling your new ‘do yourself can help you feel better about working with it. If not, at least you’ll know you tried.

4. Get comfortable with a curling iron

Curls can disguise a multitude of hair sins, from color to cut. Even after I got my hair redone (we’ll get to that,) I’m still praising my trusty curling wand for keeping me sane, because there’s really only so much that can be done about super-short layers without going the extension route.

5. Spend time on your makeup

If you're not happy with your hair, pull yourself together in other ways. Spend time on your makeup, put on your favorite outfit, and make sure your eyebrows are on fleek. If you're lacking in confidence in one area, make up for it elsewhere.

6. Ask to have it fixed

If you're really disappointed in the results, call the salon and ask to have it fixed — if they're a reputable place, they'll usually do their best to repair it, especially if it was clearly not what you wanted. Unfortunately, in my case, I got a call a couple of hours before my correction appointment the following day from the salon owner saying that they were still going to charge me to fix it, even though a) the photos I brought in looked nothing like the result and b) I called pretty much immediately after I left the salon to explain how upset I was. Livid doesn't even begin to cover how I felt. Which brings me to my next point.

7. Invest in getting it redone somewhere else

As angry as I was that they weren't going to fix my botched hair for free, it was so worth it to go to a different salon to have it redone. It may have been for the best, too — for all I know, the original salon would have made it even worse.

8. Be clear about what you wanted it to look like

After talking to one of my best friends in Denver, who's a hair stylist, I was able to articulate exactly what I wanted: a lighter underside, lowlights to darken the top, and softened layers (even though I couldn't do much about the length.) I could have cried I was so happy when it was fixed — stylist #2 exceeded my expectations of what could be done to remedy my locks (thanks, Brooklyn!)

9. Remember that hair grows

Trite as it may sound, hair does grow. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that hair plays a huge role in confidence, but it's important to get some perspective and remember that even though a bad haircut or color feels like the end of the world, there are more important things. And you never know — someday, it could make a good story.

Images: nemar74/Fotolia; Giphy