haircutThe Saga Begins

I opened my hotel room door and glanced in the mirror. Big mistake. Nothing had changed in the previous hour. Tears sprang to my eyes again. It would take more than an hour to repair the damage. In fact, it might take a year or two before I would look in the mirror and see myself again.

I should have cancelled my haircut appointment when my Prius lost power. When I glanced at my GPS, I knew I would arrive at least ten minutes late for my appointment. By the time I figured out that I had actually run out of gas, I knew I’d arrive closer to twenty minutes late.

Twenty minutes after my appointment should have started, I rushed into the salon. I have trust issues with my hair. Evidently, I have vanity issues, too.

“What would you like me to do today?” the highly-trained-in-curly-hair-cutting stylist asked me.

“Just a trim, please,” I told her. “And I’d like the back to be a little shorter,” I used my hands to show the angle I desired, “with the front the same length.” The stylist nodded her understanding.

“And it’s ok if I take a little off the ends?”

I nodded. “A tiny bit. I have a few split ends. I’m so sorry I arrived late, I’ve had a crazy day.”

“Your message said you’d run out of gas? On your way from Montana?”

I launched into an explanation, and we chatted about our kids. Her oldest would start at the university in August, and her youngest would begin high school. She snipped away around the nape of my neck, and then pulled a curl up where I watched in chagrin as she cut almost two inches off the curl before pulling up another one for execution.

The Fatal Cut

13 things to do when your haircut turns out horrible. #haircut #disaster #hairstyleI swallowed and asked her about her vacation. Salon-chair chit-chat doesn’t come easy for me. I’d only had her cut my hair once before, but she remembered much of our previous conversation. This surprised me, because I hadn’t been in since October. After all, she lives 10 hours from home. Did I mention that I have trust issues with my hair?

I glanced in the mirror and watched in horror as she hacked a good two inches from the front. Evidently, we didn’t share the same definition of ‘tiny bit’ and ‘leave the front the same length.’

“That’s a little more than I wanted off the front,” I bleated out as she reached for the same shorn curl and prepared to snip a little more. She moved on to the next victim.

I tried to continue chatting, as I writhed in internal agony while she finished cutting my hair. The scissors clanked ominously in my ears. Or maybe my ears had just started ringing from shock. I went through the motions of enjoying the scalp massage as she washed my hair with special for-curly-hair-only products.

The funky-looking hair dryer she lowered over my head filled my ears with a warm buzz. I shut my eyes and pretended to doze off. Escape couldn’t come soon enough. After twenty minutes, my stylist returned and checked her handiwork hack job. She held out a mirror for me.

“Here, you can check out the back,” she said as she swung the chair around.

I held up the mirror and felt what she’d left of my hair. Piles of forlorn locks lay on the floor around me. I couldn’t look. “Nice.” I tried to squeeze enthusiasm into my voice.

“It’s crazy, but your hair looks darker now.”

Shorn Like a Sheep

What hair? I wanted to scream. I handed back the mirror and stood up, the cape still fluttering around my shoulders. She whipped it off and made her way to the front desk.

I pulled out a huge wad of cash, and a little bit of me died while I paid hard-earned money for one of the worst haircuts in my life. When I got to my car, I burst into tears.

The hour drive to my motel in heavy traffic prevented me from peeking in the mirror at my haircut. I had hoped the whole thing had been a sleep-deprivation-induced nightmare. Alas, when I arrived at the hotel, nothing had changed.

I came up with a list of 13 things to do when you have a terrible haircut. It’s the only way I can spend the evening not lamenting the loss of my hair.

Check out these 13 things to do if your haircut turns out horrible. I've tried all of them. they work. Except maybe the second one. #haircut #style Click To Tweet

Funny Things…Sort Of

1. Cry. Yep. Go ahead and cry. I advise waiting until you get to your car, though. And try not to sob too deeply during rush-hour traffic. It’s hard to see through tears.

2. Eat a banana. Every day. Until your hair grows out. I once read somewhere that the best way to combat a bad-hair day is to eat a banana—they hold some natural feel-good chemical that makes your perception of your bad-hair day change. Hopefully, you like bananas.

3. Avoid mirrors. I don’t wear contacts or makeup, so this one shouldn’t be too hard.

4. Rejoice in the fact that hair grows. More quickly for some than for others. Mine grows about ½ inch a year. If I’m lucky. Or pregnant. I’m neither.

5. My hair DOES look darker. Who would have thought that losing most of it would reveal my once-youthful color.

6. Keep your hands out of your hair. That’s right. Wait a few days before touching your hair. Your brain and fingers will forget what used to be. Hopefully.

7. Drown your sorrows in decaf. I suggest decaf because it won’t keep you awake late at night fixating on your loss.

Serious Things

8. Own up to your vanity. I didn’t realize how vain I was about my hair. I wonder what other areas of vanity I need to weed out of my life?

9. Repress your desire for revenge. When I reached my car, I wanted to log on to Yelp and leave a scathing review. I didn’t. It feels good to know that I repressed that desire. I keep referring to number 4.

10. Try to step into your stylist’s shoes. I arrived late and I was her last appointment. Her tiredness and distraction, combined with my fatigue may have caused a monumental lapse in communication.

11. Remember that God can use you—even if you have a horrible haircut. I present at a conference in less than two weeks. God can use me, even if I don’t like my haircut.

12. Grace. When we extend it to others, we can more fully understand the cost of God’s grace towards us.

13. Cry. Again. It’s ok to cry a little as you wave goodbye to your vanity.

Maybe in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, my haircut won’t look so horrible. I sure hope so, because I’m not a big fan of bananas.


  1. Oh, Anita! I’m crying with you. There is NOTHING like a bad haircut when you’ve got curly hair. Nothing. I’m proud of you for trying to find the positive. May your locks grow quickly without the aid of dreaded bananas.
    Marie recently posted…Five Minute Friday: ThirteenMy Profile

  2. Such a great post although I’m sorry about your hair. My hair is really short now but I can still get a little self-confident it goes shorter than normal. Really enjoyed reading!

  3. Awww, Anita. I’m sorry, my friend. Just after I got married, we moved to another state and I went to get a haircut. Let’s just say the chop job was so bad that I actually trimmed up some of my own hair. And I never touch scissors to my own hair.

    But seriously, I love your points. Each one of them is so good. Great post, my friend!
    Jeanne Takenaka recently posted…Thirteen: Aspects of ThirteenMy Profile

  4. I have trust issues as well with hairstylists and doctors. 😉
    I laughed through my teary eyes at the sheep faces in your post. I wonder if those darlings hope the shepherd will only take a smidge off the ends each Spring only to find that they must walk out of the shearing shed, head held high, sporting a close-cropped do.
    Praying for your waiting time. Blessings to you!

  5. I LOVE getting my hair cut.. hands running through my hair. Making small chat. It works for me. AND since I am monumentally easy to please with my hair it makes it less stressful. I’ve only had two haircuts that were.. difficult, but the one was easily resolved …. went back and actually GOT my hair cut, and the other… six weeks later it had grown out. WOOT WOOT!

  6. Oh Anita, I could just cry. I know the pain of a bad haircut, or a bad color. It is so disappointing. But thank you for letting the experience bring these wonderful points – both the serious ones and the funny ones. You are such a blessing. And I eat a banana almost every morning and my hair grows slower than a snail’s pace!
    Joanne Viola recently posted…ThirteenMy Profile

  7. Oh Anita … I feel your pain! I’ve been looking for someone who can consistently cut my curly hair the way I want it for the last, oh, two decades maybe? The one gal who got it just right quit doing hair and became a childcare worker … I still haven’t gotten over that loss! Since her, I’ve been to about six others … some only once or twice, some for much longer. (As I write this, I’m realizing I may have a slight problem.) 🙂 I love your list. And also baseball caps. I’ve learned to love those in recent years too.
    Lois Flowers recently posted…Summer Rest StopsMy Profile

  8. Ack! My sister has very curly hair and is also very picky about her stylist. I’m too frugal to pay for a high end stylist (plus I have kids in therapy, so there goes any extra money for such luxuries), so I get what I get. Usually I’m not too unhappy but there have been a few times I regretted a rushed stylist on a busy day.
    Hope it grows back quick. 😉
    Bethany Vitaro recently posted…Not Matter How Dark the Night, the Dawn Will ComeMy Profile

  9. I do not have curly hair but I have been told that it requires special care by a hairstylist to cut it just so.
    I am sorry that this happened…especially when you.have such beautiful hair.
    Your points were a good reminder for me. Especially the one about extending grace. That is not often my first reaction/choice.

  10. First of all, darling daughter, chuck that banana myth as far as you can heave it! I eat banana every morning, have for years, and you know what my hair, or lack thereof, looks like.
    There are a few other options that you may have overlooked. I’ll suggest a few.
    1. What a great living object lesson for your student! Summer Break usually brings a lot of changes in the student’s life. Some of these are temporary. Some are more long lasting. Some they made of their own accord and some were forced upon them. Some were good and some were downright evil.
    Now you have a chance to show them how to handle unwanted changes with grace.

    2. You can hide that “bad do” under a layer bright fluorescent color, thus redirecting the gaze of others

    3. You can shave it all off to share your solidarity chemo victims. Caution, this may make you look even more like your, not-so-very-humorous father.

    4. You could change your style… maybe use some butch wax to give those curls a spiked look. Or style it like I saw on another woman last week who is about your age. Hers was a short “man cut,” over the back and top, leaving long curly locks hanging down in front of each ear…. although that may have the same effect on you as your current style.

    6. You could also…..

    Oh, never mind, your daddy still loves you, even if that gorgeous curly hair is on the floor or on your head. I’m sure that you will find that all your real friends will feel the same. Your twinkling eyes and broad smile keep most people from seeing your good or bad hair.
    So, cheer up. Have a good hair day. It’s your choice.

  11. My worst “hair day” wasn’t a cut but a bad color job … about 2 weeks before my best friend’s wedding. I went back and got an adjustment from a different stylist, but I still had yellow hair for the wedding (noticed only by me).

    Thanks for being so honest. I don’t like to think I’m vain, but I wouldn’t walk out of my house without wearing makeup. So you have one up on me!

    And … bonus – in the comments I discovered someone we both know: my real-life friend Lois!

  12. AWW! Poor Mama. This post makes me laugh but in a very sympathetic way. You’re so good at feeling all the emotions that come with a huge disappointment while also searching for ways to ease or find new perspectives on it. I’ll definitely refer back to this post if (when) the same thing happens to me!
    Laura recently posted…They Still Need UsMy Profile

  13. So funny!! I feel your pain. With my natural kinky African hair, bad haircuts are an even worse nightmare! So very hard to hide…and I’ve had a few really bad ones! But thank God, hair does grow back. And I honestly think no one else notices!

  14. As I said on IG – I really think your hair looks cute! Of course, others have said similar things to me and, somehow, they did not make my hair grow back instantly…or make me feel any better. Sigh. Hope you are feeling better, enjoying your new do (might as well, right) and not having to chug down as many bananas!!

  15. Oh no, I’ve had like two bad haircuts since starting my journey of loving my curly hair.. luckily for me my hair grows like crazy because I really don’t like bananas!! Hopefully you’ll get used to your new hair style soon!

  16. As Professional Barber with 40+ clients per week, I can definitely understand your frustration. The biggest thing that I have realized as a Barber over the years, is that you must interpret your clients hair cut perspective into your own. Then you must explain it back to the client with deep description. The simplest misinterpretation (“tiny bit”) does so much damage in the end, as it has for you Anita. I physically show my cliens how much they would like to cut off. Keep in mind I do mostly men’s cuts, yet it still real critical that you interpret both client views and their barber or stylist view.

    I loved your artice and loved to see the experience clients have and their points of view versus (us) the barbers and cosmetologists view. I hope your next few Haircuts are more promising than this one was.

  17. I feel your pain as does every woman who ever set foot in a salon. My worst was a few years back. I moved and booked an appointment with a stylist at a pricey salon because he had rave reviews. He jerked my head around constantly, no polite please turn your head. Then he used a razor on my hair and I could hear the tearing, after I specifically asked him not to. He then screeched at me in a shrill voice that I don’t tell him how to cut hair. Way too much hair was coming off and then he burned my scalp with the blow dryer. I paid too much and even tipped. I then went to my car and cried. It was nearly a year before I considered cutting my hair again. It came up on the second date with my new guy and I went into a long tirade about my hair. He mentioned he could trim my hair for me if I would like him to. I asked for details and he explained how he would do it. So next morning I was at his house to have him give me a haircut. I said it was bad, chop off four inches as he was combing out my hair after he secured a towel around my shoulders. He said he would be able to give it some shape just taking off an inch or so. He could take off more later if needed. I said that would be great. And he sectioned, pinned up my hair, and I heard the first snip and wondered if I was really doing this. When he finished, he removed the towel, showed me the contents of the dust pan, not much, that was good, then I dashed for the bathroom mirror. I looked the mirror and a big smile came across my face. It was a great haircut. He took off about an inch or so, but it was even, nicely shaped and I had just gotten a haircut from my new boyfriend that I loved for FREE. My budget was tight at the time, so the free part was especially nice. I told him he was now my regular stylist and decided right then to myself I was going to marry this guy. And I ended up doing so. He is the only one allowed to cut my hair. He trims my hair every other month, and always does a great job. I get compliments on my hair and my best friend who had a similar bad salon experience asked who did my hair as it always looked so good. When I told her it was my guy, she was surprised and said you are going to be a pal and share your stylist right? I said I sure, just ask him and she did. We were out at a restaurant and he said no problem, and she came over the next weekend when I was going to get mine trimmed. She came over and we chatted, hubby said who is first and she said she was. It seemed funny watching him cut another woman’s hair, he was so detailed and meticulous and he gave her a great haircut. She was very pleased and asked if he could continue to do so. So I know I have it good when my friends want my hubby to cut their hair rather than risk the salon.

      1. Yes, it is. And I had always my hair long from when I was a little girl. My cousin had beautiful long hair and I wanted my hair like hers. During the third trim he gave me, I mentioned I would like my hair long, but it would never grow. He said it will, but will take time. He can just give me micro dustings to just remove splits and keep my hemline neat. Today it is past my elbows, I love it. And I have gotten my hubby to learn to do different braids for me. He can do french, dutch, side, fishtail, dual and combinations of them. He did a side braid for me when we wer3 going to a family gathering. After the rain and wind, it got a bit messy so I asked him to redo it. Two of his cousins were watching and it was so funny as his one cousin who has hair almost as long as mine, pointed out to her husband, “See that is what a husband is supposed to do for his wife, watch and learn”. Well he didn’t have a happy look, but mentioned he didn’t think it was a manly thing to do. My hubby is retired military, he just said he served his country, deployed to the desert multiple times and he has no doubts about his manhood. His other cousin (her sister) chuckled, smiled and said that is a great braid, nice job where did you learn to do that. I told her Youtube, there are great tutorials. I would set up the IPad and play the video while he tried to copy it. He had a lot of attempts where they were uneven, or he left a loopie, but he just started over. He has braided my hair hundreds of times and has gotten pretty good at it. Most reactions are positive, always other women who think it is wonderful and ask how did you get him to learn to do it. I enjoy having him touch my hair and I feel so relaxed whether he is combing, braiding or whatever. My hair is my personal space and I feel like I could just take a nap when he combs my hair or braids it, very relaxing. I highly recommend having your boyfriend or husband learn to braid your hair for you.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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