woman in shock after getting a bad haircut

Cosmetology Students: How to Fix a Bad Haircut

woman in shock after getting a bad haircutwoman in shock after getting a bad haircut
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A Guide for Cosmetology Students to Fix Bad Haircuts 

If you’re a cosmetology student, you’re probably not always going to give a perfect haircut on the first try. Even as a seasoned hairstylist, you may occasionally have an unhappy client—or have to deal with someone else’s. 

With cosmetology hair school and practice, you’ll learn how to become the master haircutter you know you are. But in the meantime, here’s a handy guide for when a haircut gets out of hand.

Provide Excellent Customer Service 

You’re in cosmetology school because you love hair. That means you know how personal hair is. If a client is upset about his or her haircut, listen to them. Resist the temptation to get defensive, even if they’re displeased with your work. If you feel embarrassed or sad, try to focus on the customer’s feelings instead of your own. Be empathetic and kind. Commit to working through this together.

Mistakes and miscommunications happen, even to top hairstylists. How you communicate with a client to fix a hairstyle they are unhappy about will determine whether they trust you again in the future.  

After you’ve helped your customer calm down, talk with them to understand what exactly they don’t like about their hairstyle. Do they feel like they got a different cut or treatment than they asked for? Or do they think the technique used was not up to par? Maybe their hair wasn’t cut evenly. Maybe their layers weren’t blended well. Or maybe the haircut doesn’t fit the client’s personal style. 

Ask the client for photos showing the kind of hairstyle they want. Look through them together, identifying specific differences between the photos and their current hairstyle. The more you can get on the same page, the easier it will be for you to make changes the client will be happy about. 

If the client has naturally straight hair, it may be helpful to wash and dry their hair straight. This will allow you to see any mistakes or unevenness more clearly. No matter what your client’s natural hair texture is, study the cut carefully and critically. Enrolling in a good cosmetology program is the best way to ensure your haircutting technique is sound. 

Work With Your Client’s Hair, Not Against It

woman getting a haircut
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If you’re still learning the ins and outs of cutting hair, you may have given a cut that didn’t work for your client’s hair. The most flattering hairstyles suit a client’s face shape and hair texture. For instance, beachy waves tend to be flattering on coarse hair, but a client with fine hair is best served with a minimum graduation style. 

It could be that your client asked for a haircut that is not flattering on them. If this is the case, propose how you could adjust the cut. Don’t point out that you just did what they requested. Be cheerful and solution-oriented. You shouldn’t force a hairstyle on a client if they don’t want it, yet showing your client photos of hairstyles that match their hair texture may make them open to a cut that will suit them better.

Be Realistic 

You may be a wizard at cutting hair, but you’re not a miracle worker. If a client is sad that you or another stylist cut more inches off their hair than they asked, or if you gave them a blunt cut instead of soft layers, the only real remedy is time. Offer ideas for how your client might style their hair as it grows back. Offer to give them free sessions in the future. It may be that multiple haircuts are needed over time to transition their hair into the style they want.

If your client’s bad haircut was the result of your bad technique, don’t get too down on yourself. Keep studying and commit to doing better. If the haircut happened because of a miscommunication, analyze how you can avoid such an occurrence in the future. 

The good news is: Hair grows back.

About the Author

Jeff Chiarelli
Jeff Chiarelli is the Head of Marketing for Ogle School. His responsibilities include leading Ogle School's marketing and branding strategy to amplify Ogle School's passion for helping create future beauty professionals in the communities Ogle School serves.