Botching a haircut is a common fear among many newly employed hairstylists. You're in control of someone's hair and you use various sharp objects that even little children would think is too close for comfort. Yet, no matter if a customer likes or dislikes their new hairdo, there's always a story to tell from a stylist.
Please, Don’t Look
“My girlfriend (a licensed hairdresser) was cutting my hair and then all of the sudden I heard, ‘Ohmigod!’ She quickly covered my sideburn with her hand and wouldn’t let me see. She started to tear up. Turns out she had given me racing stripes like some 90s white rapper.
I just laughed and said, ‘It’s just hair. It’ll grow back.’ I took the razor and shaved off both sideburns. I got to hang it over her head for a week or two.”
You’re A Hairdresser, Not A Dermatologist
“I have a small mole on the back of my neck about an inch away from my hair, never had a hassle with it before this event. My local hairdresser place closed down due to bankruptcy meaning I would have to find a new place to go. Eventually I found a nice little privately owned place. The time comes for when I need to get my haircut. I go to this place and wait around for a little while because they were quite busy. After 40 minutes of waiting I finally get seated, guy gets the clippers ready and proceeds to start. First thing this guy does, presses the clippers against the back of my neck and hits the mole, I jerk forward and cover the mole with my hand, no blood. Eventually finishes the haircut, I pay and am on my way ready to walk home. On my way home I notice some people looking at me with a very nervous and horrified expression. Once I get home I decide to take a shower to get all of the loose hairs off of me, take my shirt off, the whole back was SATURATED in blood and a part of the mole was stuck to it.”
“My grandmother told me this story from when she was younger:
She was an orphan and so when she turned 17 she went to London to learn how to cut hair at the institute there. In her first week she had this old woman come in to get her hair curled. My grandmother put her hair in curlers and put her under the heat helmet and went out for a cigarette for a bit. When she came back in and began to remove the curlers she realized that the woman’s hair wasn’t come off the curlers, it was just coming off with them…my grandmother had burned the woman’s hair off. She realized this about two curlers in, calmly puts the cover back over the woman’s hair and tells her to wait just a moment. She walks out the door, gets on a train and never returned. Classy G-Ma, classy.”
Listen To Your Hairdresser’s Advice
“My dad’s a hairdresser. He had a woman walk in with a magazine cutting, asking for a perm. My dad told her he honestly didn’t think it would suit her at all – he used to cut hair for catwalks and model shows, and he knows what he’s talking about – and said that he could recommend some similar cuts that would frame her face nicely, but she was adamant that she wanted this one. So my dad got her to sign her name in a book acknowledging that she had been advised against it (he later said it was the only time he’d ever had to use it) and figured no big deal, it’d grow out in a few weeks. He gets to work, and he’s making small talk, and he says ‘So, any plans over the weekend?’
The woman responds: ‘Well, I’m getting married in a couple of hours…’
My dad, at this point, downs tools and excuses himself. He said he went for ‘a long walk around the block.’ Usually when you’re doing wedding hair you have the client come in six weeks beforehand for a practice run, you make sure it looks good with the dress and that everybody’s happy with the final design. He goes back in and says to the woman ‘Look, I really don’t think this cut is going to be the right choice. I can still do this, this or this…’ but the woman sitting there with half a haircut and the friend she’s there with are absolutely adamant that this is the cut she has to have. So my dad finishes it, blow dries it, and it’s an exact replica of the style in the magazine. And of course, it looks awful on this woman. She starts crying, her friend promptly disappears.
My dad charged her half price for it and wished her a happy wedding day.”
A Haircut Worth Crying Over
“Hairdresser here. Eight years. I had been working in an upscale AVEDA salon for about three months. My first job out of beauty school. I had a men’s haircut scheduled under the name ‘Namjimmy.’ His name was just Jimmy but his Korean accent was so thick that’s what our receptionist heard when she asked his name. He was here on business. Standard short tapered men’s cut. Clippers on the sides scissors on top. I’m feeling pretty cocky at this point in my career. So this is easy peasy. I start with the clippers on the sides. I am using the clipper over comb technique where you use a comb to determine the length and taper of the hair. So I am gliding a clipper with no guard over a comb. I’m trying my best to converse with my client and just doin’ my thing when all of a sudden I just slipped and ran the clipper right against his head. Three-inch long BALD vanilla ice stripe on side of head! I instantly felt as though my insides were in my shoes and my brain was coming out my mouth. He was turned away from the mirror so he had no idea yet of the horrible mistake.
A million thoughts went through my mind. I really wanted to just put my clippers down and walk out the front door and leave him to discover on his own and for my boss to deal with aftermath. But I had nailed a sweet job and thought I better try to pick up the pieces. Before turning Jimmy towards the mirror I did my best in simple English to explain what happened. Now this part is where I lied a little. I blamed it on my clippers. I have classic 76’s which have a removal blade mechanism. I said that it wasn’t attached properly and flipped out of alignment while still cutting. I am ashamed but I just couldn’t admit that I wasn’t paying enough attention. So there’s me saying ‘broken’ while pointing to clippers and ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘no charge’ over and over. Then I turn him to the mirror and he was f–king SHOCKED. He just kept saying ‘I never expect this’ over and over. I swear to you he was so frustrated he started to tear up. And that’s when I obviously lost my sh-t. I made this poor Korean businessman cry! He probably had some important meeting to go to and now he looks like a break dancer or something.
I went to the back and was just shaking and had a coworker go pick up the pieces. She just explained to him that if she took it shorter it would even out sooner. There was no hiding it! She even got him to laugh in the end joking about putting a matching one on the other side. I went home for the day; I was so shaken. It became a term in the salon for any f–k up to be referred to as a ‘Namjimmy.’ Like you really namjimmied that ladies’ bangs.”
The Cueball Look Doesn’t Fit
“Girl just got done cutting an elderly woman’s hair exactly the way the picture she brought in looked. The only difference was that the woman in the picture was 150 pounds lighter. I guess they tried talking her out of it but she insisted in that cut.
Woman flipped her sh-t, started screaming at everyone she could, got her cut for free then waddled out the door.
The girl was on the verge of tears. She went in the back for a few minutes to try to collect herself and then came back out. I was her next client.
My haircut is all clipper work. She was distraught and picked up the clippers to start the cut, but never put the clip on them. She started the first pass and then gasped and burst into tears. I turned my head sideways to see what happened. I had a big bald spot on the side of my head.
I started laughing. She called over her supervisor and they were trying to fix it. I said ‘Let’s try the bald look!’ They asked if I was sure. I said yes so they shaved my head completely.
I’ve never done it again. I felt like I should have co-starred with Chunk in ‘The Goonies.’ My head is bumpy and abnormal looking. When she was done shaving it even she was staring at it like I was a sideshow performer at the carnival.
The good thing is my hair grows extremely fast. In two weeks it was grown to the length I would normally get it cut at.
They gave me the cut for free. I still tipped her, even though she tried to refuse it, in a month and a half I was back in her chair getting my haircut again.”
A Little Too Much Off The Top
“I’m a hairstylist. When I was in school, they just let me on the floor and I got my first haircut ever. It was this old man in his 70s. I was so nervous.
I start to cut around his ear and my hands were shaking so bad I let go of his ear on accident and it flipped up into my shears blade. I cut the top part of his ear off. I mean not like a significant portion but I got it good.
Blood starts pouring and I freak. He says, hey what’s wrong? I say ‘Uhhh, sorry but I cut your ear really bad.’ He says, ‘Oh…I didn’t feel it. Don’t worry,dude, just finish the haircut. It’s looking good.’
I was traumatized. But it’s been seven years since that, I’m actually kinda successful now.”
That’s Not A $20 Value Cut
“Let me preface first by saying I’m a black dude. So, I receive a coupon in the mail for Sport Clips they had just opened a new one in my neighborhood. Now for those that do not know it, they market themselves as stylists and not barbers. So it is a free coupon to get a hair cut. Frugal me decides to go.
I get there and the receptionist tells me to wait. I then notice that guys coming after me are getting seated, so I ask her and she says to me, ‘Don’t worry, i am saving our best stylist for you_.’ _I figured that was hair stylist speak for ‘I’m getting the only one in here that can cut black people hair.’
I wait as it was free after all. Now this lovely 40ish white lady asks me to the chair. I am getting the $20 value hair cut with the massage. I had not cut my hair in three months and it was really long. So, she nervously asks me what style I want. I tell her, just fade it out and leave it dark at the top.
I close my eyes and relax. After 10 minutes in my forced slumber my brain tells me ‘Bro, something’s wrong with your haircut, the motion is wrong and she is cutting against the grain!’
I open my eyes and I swear to Zeus’s festering a–hole, she was almost in tears. My hair looked like someone had taken blunt garden shears and tried to trim it. There was a bald patch on the side. She was apologizing profusely and at the same time fighting back tears. I told her to calm down and just even it out and it will be ok, forget about the fade.
I was wrong, she continued destroying my head. Then she decided that the scissors were a better deal. The snipping and cutting continued amidst her muffled sniffles. Then she went on this Weeping Madonna streak talking about how she has been a stylist for 18 years and about her kids and dog. My head was a f–king mess. The other ‘stylists’ were were cringing. She was a wreck and apologized.
Like a boss I took the clippers from her, shaved my head bald and told her, ‘ok, now for the massage…'”
A Customer Gets You Fired
“Not only have I f–ked them up, I once cut a five-year-old kid about six or seven times in one hair cut.
His mother lost her sh-t. She went completely spastic.
In all honesty it was a bit of a crime scene on the back of his neck. And the little cut on his ear bled like a stuck pig. But…BUT. The kid was a little jerk. He was pushing himself into my clippers to make them cut him. He also kept trying to slip his hand into my scissors.
So anyway, my boss came over to examine what was causing this woman to flip out. He is Italian. So, in a very passionate and exaggerated fashion he fired me on the spot. Right in front of the mom. He said he had never seen anything like it. He then told the woman that we were sorry, free haircut.
She said she would never be back. That seemed about right. She stormed out. Dragging her little bloody kid behind her.
I started to collect my gear to complete the firing process. My boss turned to me and said ‘What the f–k are you doing? This is a busy Saturday!! You think I am going to fire you over an $8 kids hair cut and leave all these customers waiting? That kid was a little (insert Italian swear word about vaginas). I’m not going to fire you about that. Get the F–K back to work.’
The woman was never seen again. I made record tips that day. My next customer said it was hilarious to watch the kid mess up my day, then to watch me get fired and unfired and then he gave me a $20 tip.
My boss gave me a bottle of homemade wine that we drank in the bathroom of the barber shop after the day was over.”
Dads: They’re Just Bad At Haircuts
“When I was a kid my dad gave me such a bad haircut that it had to be shaved off. He felt so bad he shaved his own head to make me feel better. This was in the middle of Winter right before he took me to a football game, in NY (freezing) One of my fondest memories of him.”
Bald It Is Then
“Hairdresser f–ked up my hair badly. I was in rage. She looked at me, called a colleague over, she looked at me, they conversed, took a shaver and shave my head. It. Looked. Awesome. Been bald since.”
How Do You Say “I Screwed Up” In Norwegian?
“Hairdresser in Norway who didn’t appear to speak any English stopped in the middle of my cut and said in a strong accent, ‘You head is lopsided.’ Time to buy a hat.”
They Did You A Favor To Be Honest
“I was working at a children’s salon for about a year during my cosmetology career. Most of the experiences were miserable due to unrealistic expectations of parents combined with children who were afraid of the clippers or shears.
I’ll always remember when I accidentally cut off a little boy’s four-inch rat tail. The mother scooped him out of the chair right after, with only maybe 1/3 of his head shaved, and stormed out.
My reaction: it’s 2008, and your son had a rat tail. You’re welcome.”
Awkward Haircut Proposal From A Family Member
“So I am not a barber, but I do have a great story. My wife has fairly straightforward hair, and she has me cut it for her periodically. (This literally involves trimming a couple inches off all the way around; a toddler could do it.)
Anyway, last year on Mother’s Day, this topic came up with my mother-in-law. After a rather awkward conversation, she started insisting that I cut her hair before she left our house. I refused numerous times, but the woman insisted. So, we trooped into the bathroom and the scissors came out.
I could not get her to hold her head still, and I realized with dawning horror that I had cut her hair at an angle in the back. In the process of trying to fix it, I ended up taking her hair from well down her back to less than shoulder length. My wife comes into check on us and runs out of the room to avoid dying laughing in front of her mom.
My mother-in-law eventually decided that she liked it, but it was one of the most awkward experiences of my life.”
Here’s An Unexpected Mullet
“I am a hairstylist. Whenever I was in cosmetology school, my mom (who works from home, and doesn’t get out much) let me practice cutting her hair. Her hair was a little bit past her shoulders, and I was attempting to take about three inches off. As I am cutting, I completely messed up a guideline somewhere, and accidentally cut the front way shorter than the back. When I realized what was happening, I said ‘It’s looking kind of mullet-ish, Mom’
Her response: ‘NEVER say that to a paying client, just figure out how to make it work and pretend like you meant to do it.’ Needless to say, my mom had a sweet a– mullet for a little while.”
We’ll Fix That Later
“When I was younger I had long pretty hair. My mom and I were at the mall and it was decided that I needed a haircut, because the ends were getting kind of rough. My hair is just long and straight, all she really needed to do was cut straight across the bottom, but this young, nervous looking girl sits me down and cuts diagonally on the back of my hair. My mom’s says ‘That’s really…not straight, can we clean it up a little?’ She tries again, makes a diagonal line pointing the other direction. She now isn’t stopping and asking how it looks, she’s aware that she’s not making it better so she keeps cutting and cutting until like eight inches of my hair are gone. I had hella hair, but eight inches is WAY too much when you come in asking for like two inches off. My mom finally said ‘Just stop cutting please.’ We left, she didn’t charge us, my mom fixed it at home.”
Crisis Slightly Averted
“In beauty school I had a middle-aged woman ask to cut her shoulder-length hair into a short pixie cut. Having seen my superiors put hair in a ponytail and cut it off, I decided that was what I was gonna do. So I tied it up and chopped it off. Well, the hair right behind the ponytail was only about a half-inch long. I’m freaking out. I asked, ‘So you wanted to go pretty short right?’ Continued to cut all the hair in the back about a half-inch all over all while sweating profusely and hoping she would not reach up to feel what I have done. Luckily once I was done she loved it! And returned a few times after that.”
You Gotta Learn From Your Huge Hairdressing Mistakes
“When I first started doing hair, we had a lady call in wanting just a haircut so I took it. When she came in she asked if I knew how to cut curly hair. Now, there is a difference between wavy hair, curly hair, and kinky curly hair, she had the latter, but wanting to make money I said ‘Sure, I know how to cut curly hair.’ She told me she wanted her to hair to sit just below her shoulders. So I shampooed her and then proceeded to cut. When all was said and done, her kinky curly hair coiled up so much, it was to her chin!!! It was NOT flattering on her AT ALLLL!!! She was a heavy set lady with a round face. OH MY GOD! It was absolutely awful. So to kind of ‘disguise’ it, I flat ironed her hair and sent her on her way. Of course I never heard from her again.
Yes, you make mistakes and you feel really bad, you question whether or not this is something you should be doing, but just like anything else, you learn from your mistakes. The unfortunate thing is, you’re learning at someone else’s expense. But, if you’re smart, you don’t make the same mistake twice.”
An Unfortunate Time To Cough
“With long hair, I have taken layers a bit too short at times. Long hair is easy to disguise a mistake as you can usually blend it in.
The only hair cut I have ever ‘screwed up’ was a men’s cut a few years ago. I was free hand ‘clippering’ without guards (because I think guards are for cheaters lol) and he coughed and jerked his head back, causing me to clip right down to the skin in the back. I didn’t say much, just mentioned for him to keep his head still. I managed to blend it in pretty good and when I showed him the back of his head, I mentioned the one spot.
He was fine with it, laughed about it and apologized for it being his fault. He’s a loyal customer to this day.”
That’s Not A Number Two Haircut
“I was in 5th grade and told this new hairdresser that I wanted my hair short on the sides and a bit longer on top. I even brought my recent school picture as an example. She says ‘no problem’ and grabs the clippers, proceeding to give me a number two buzz cut all over my head.
Now, I would have said something before she got too far into it, but I wasn’t wearing my glasses when she started so I couldn’t see what she was doing. But it eventually occurred to me that I was not getting the haircut I asked for.
She finished and I started to get all teary eyed and promptly ran out of the haircuttery, leaving my mother to explain to this lady that she f–ked up. We didn’t pay that day.”
That’s Not How Haircuts Work, Lady
“Barber here. I didn’t mess up this haircut but she wasn’t happy. When I was cutting women’s hair a few years ago, I had a girl come in (think annoying Facebook girl) and sit in my chair. She asked if I could cut her hair so it looked longer. I told her I could cut it so it’s shorter. She didn’t understand that I couldn’t make hair longer by cutting it so instead I just gave her a light trim after discussing it over our consultation. About a half inch off. Not much at all. I turn her to the mirror when I’m done and she says, ‘Oh mah gawd men can’t cut hair! You didn’t do anything!’ As I stood there dumbfounded I told her I did what she asked except I couldn’t magically grow hair. She got mad, ripped off the cape, threw money at the receptionist, and stormed out. The other customers in the shop laughed a bit while I wondered whether another hairdresser had this problem.”
You Don’t Want It This Way?
“I can only remember one time I’ve f–ked up pretty badly. It was my first job at a shop fresh out of barber school. I went to a school that catered to mostly coarse hair and I learned about Caesars – same all around with a shape up. My first job was in Queens working at a Spanish shop catering to mostly to Spanish and coarse hair. A father and son came in. The son was visibly upset, and the father visibly infuriated. The son sits in my chair and the father looks at me and says, ‘Just a Caesar haircut please’ I then ask the consultation questions I learned ‘Would you want a one or two?’ ‘One is fine,’ he says. ‘Same length all around right?’ I reply. ‘Yes.’ The father then turns to the kid and says ‘This is what happens when you act out.’ So I begin the haircut, halfway through I look and the kid is crying – he’s about 9 or 10. The father says ‘Whoa whoa that’s so short what’s going on?’ I realized by Caesar he meant short scissor cut all around with bangs mid forehead. I stop in my tracks, the kids crying, I’m trying to explain what happened with the miscommunication. I continue to cut the kid’s hair and I said I’m sorry I know I messed up, but I’m going to make you look as cool as I can.
I was embarrassed, but I asked the questions I needed to ask but I was thinking from what I solely learned at school and the demographics. I didn’t charge them but he gave me the money anyways. I’ll always remember that day
Last week one of my regulars came in and he usually gets a pompadour with the hair staying long all the way to the apex on the head. It’s harder to maintain that way plus he hardly has hair back there. I try something different, short on the crown fading to a long pomp in the front. It looks amazing my boss and my manager both compliment it say I did a great job. I show the guy what I did differently he said ‘but now my bald spots more noticeable!’ I looked at him and said ‘You weren’t fooling anyone, I’ll give you 10 bucks next time you come back you’ll want it this way.'”
How Would You Like Your Eyebrows, Sir?
“I was shaving an old man’s hair a couple of months ago and the vibration from the clippers made a funny sensation in my hand and my immediate reaction was to take my clippers away from the guy’s hair so that I didn’t ruin it. I didn’t ruin it, but I sure as hell f–ked up his eyebrow. He had about 1/3 of it left but he didn’t notice. He gave me $20 and I gave the poor guy $50 change out of my own pocket. He hasn’t come back.”