Ask Laskas: How Can I Cut Tension At My Hair Salon?

Help this worried client solve her hairdresser woes.

My hairdresser of 20 years had an accident and hasn’t been able to work. So I’ve been seeing another stylist in the same salon. She’s doing a better job and is less expensive. When my former stylist comes back, how do I tell her I want to stay with my new stylist?

Worried Client

What’s your take? Give your best advice in the comments below, and your answer might appear in the magazine.

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  • Your Comments

    • Ronnie W.

      For “Worried Client” re: Hairdresser Tension
      As a man, I once had a similar situation with my barber.  When I moved into the area and found the barber shop, I began going to the owner for my haircuts.  He has five other barbers in his shop.  I was never totally satisfied with “Joe’s” work but he became a personal friend over the years.  He took lessons from my art teacher wife at my home.  Joe had surgery and was out on leave so I went to “Sam”.  Sam’s work was much better but I wasn’t sure how to handle the change without hurting Joe’s feeling.  I then realized that Joe’s regular day off was Tuesday.  I’m sure many salon hairdressers often have similar regular schedules.  I started getting my hair cut on Tuesdays and saw Sam in Joe’s absence.  When Joe asked me about it at the house one day when he was there for his art lesson, I simply told him that my work schedule had been changed.   A minor white lie solved the problem and saved the friendship.  And since Joe owns the shop and gets part of the revenue from each of his barbers, he was still profiting from my patronage.

    • Ilgendolls

      I have been a hairdresser for over 40 years.  This happens a lot more than you think.  Don’t worry about it too much.   If possible, make your appointment with the “new” stylist on your former stylists day off.  Explain to the new stylist your problem and that you don’t want to hurt the feelings of the other stylist,  but you like the way he/she does your hair a bit more.

    • Kenneth Ramsey

      Re worried client.  I asked my wife who was a former salon owner. The advice follows:

      Since you want to keep seeing your new hair stylist, but are concerned that your former hair stylist may not understand, you should ask to talk to the manager of the hair salon.  Explain that you have been a client for over 20 years and obviously were comfortable with the work of the former stylist, but that you feel more comfortable with the new stylist but are concerned how you could explain that to your former hair stylist.  The manager should be able to ease your concern and help resolve this so that no ones feelings are unduly hurt.   

    • DonnaHarmony

      As a hairstylist, I say if you think having a face-to-face conversation is too difficult (even though that is preferable) use a thank you card.  Thank her for all the wonderful years of service instead of leaving her wondering what is going on when you don’t schedule with her.  She knows all her clients are going to someone else while she is healing, so it’s no surprise when you tell her what you liked about what the other stylist did so she can do it also.  Since there is a money issue, mention that.  Sometimes stylists will allow a customer to have a lower price for a special reason, especially one who has been loyal for 20 years.  We all appreciate loyalty and honesty.

    • Debheydon

      No one should ever go to the same stylist for 20 years. You both get stuck in a rut, and you are the one stuck the worst! Styles change, you need to too. You’ll be doing both of you a favor.

    • Neely28

      As a stylist and nail technician for over twenty years, I can see how hard it is to leave your hairdresser.  The circumstances are very difficult but she should understand that she has been out of work for over a year and had to know in this business you are bound to lose clients.  The good thing is you stayed a client of the salon and one day you may decide to return to her for services.  

      However, if it is because of the cost being lower, you should speak to your former stylist and maybe she will lower her current price for you.  It is also a good idea to explain the situation.  I am sure she would understand and will not want to burn any bridges.

      A Cut Above Salon
      Yorktown Heights, NY

    • Kwittlieff

      As a hairdresser for the past 30 years, I can tell you that for me the answer would be simple. Tell her the truth. If she has been good enough for 20 years what you are experiencing is the freshness of a different stylist. Your old stylist is probably not changing the status quo because you have not said anything. Ask her if she can start styling it the new way and see what she says. Ultimately it is not about her, but about seeing you happy with the finished product. Also talk to her about the price change. Maybe you two could come up with something together. What it comes down to is the same as any long term relationship. Communication. You will both be happier for it. You will get the style you want and she will get the feedback she needs.





    • George Huber

      Your former hairdresser must have been doing something right to stay with her for 20 years and there must be some relationship worth preserving there. Coming back after an accident would be especially difficult if her long-time customers were no longer there. Tell your hairdresser what you like about the new stylist’s work and see if she can duplicate it. If she can’t and the difference is significant you may want to consider splitting time between them as you gradually break away.
      In regards to cost, only you can decide if a few dollars a month is worth jeopardizing the relationship and creating the tension that might make future visits to the salon unpleasant. Also consider that the new stylist could raise her prices at any time. If money is a big concern, discuss this with your hairdresser and see if the price is negotiable.