5 Ways to Have Hard Beauty Conversations (Like Breaking Up With Your Stylist)
So it finally happened: Your trusty beauty person has done something you're not happy with. Do you say something? Do you lie and hope the next time you see them, they won't let you down again? Is it so bad that you just want to see someone new without saying goodbye?
It may seem inconsequential to just ghost someone like a hairstylist or an esthetician that you've been seeing for a long time, but it's really not. How you treat people who do a service for you says a lot about who you are as a person. We have to remember that the people we turn to for our beauty needs are people too. Yes, we may be shelling out the big bucks to get something done and expect a good job to be done because of that, but we must always remember that there's a right way to go about voicing out our displeasure. Yelling will get you nowhere and make you look bad. And ghosting? Can we all agree to stop this sick phenomenon of just disappearing from someone's life without any warning or reason?
We asked hairstylists, manicurists, and estheticians to see what they had to say about unhappy clients. The consensus is that honesty is really the best policy. Before you start Yelping for a new salon or spa to visit, talk to them first. They will understand and take constructive criticism well, they all promise.
To see how to handle specific beauty situations, scroll down to see how the pros think you should handle these hard conversations.
We've all been unhappy about at least one haircut in our lives. Usually it's when you go to a salon for the first time and try out a new stylist, but for the times where your trusted hairstylist does something out of the ordinary and gives you a cut or color that you're less than pleased with, this is what you should do.
"The best way to tell your stylist that you are not happy is to be upfront about it. Say, 'I’m not happy
because…" says Cutler stylist Mike Martinez. "If there is indeed a way to fix it then it is up to the stylist to make the client happy. If it’s a true tragedy and the fix is out of the stylist’s talent pool, then the stylist should take the high road and recommend someone who can best give the client exactly what they need. It
always goes back to why a consultation is not only important for the stylist but also for the client to communicate their wants and needs. This also helps the stylist make sure that they are able to get the job done without compromising the client. Transparency is paramount."
The worst way a client has broken up with Martinez? While techically not a terrible breakup, he's definitely had an awkward situation. "I did have a client once tell me that she wanted someone else to cut her hair and then two weeks later asked me to do her and her entire bridal party for her wedding," he says.
"I had a client who was using her partner's credit card, he disputed the charges and we never saw her again. Come to find out she was then charged with identity theft and grand larceny," says Chelsey Pickthorn colorist and owner of Pickthorn salons and Davines haircare expert.
While we doubt (or really hope) you would ever do that, Pickthorn agrees that honesty is the best way to go when breaking bad news. "If there is something that you are not happy with, I would suggest communicating this to your stylist and see if there is a way to remedy any dissatisfaction you are having," she says. "I believe in open communication and strive to have this with every client."
For color appointments especially, she suggests bringing pictures as visuals for your colorist. "A great colorist will have an in-depth consultation before proceeding. Be sure that you and your stylist are on the same page, looking at visuals together and that you come to a verbal and visual agreement," she says.
"Old school is always best," says David Stanko, colorist at Licari Cutler. "A handwritten note delivered in person, or a talk with your stylist face-to-face, privately, is the best way to let them know (especially if you're a long-time client). Keep it simple and say you want to explore other options and then thank him/her for your time together. Unless your stylist totally trashed your hair (which is the hair version of
irreconcilable differences), it leaves the door open should you ever want to go back to them. Something that happens often is that a client sees a new stylist and is reminded why they go to their long-time stylist to begin with."
"Ghosting" is definitely the worst. When a client stops coming in with no communication and ignores your calls, texts, etc., that leaves the stylist confused and unsure of what went wrong. Also, as a client, you leave yourself open to continued outreach from the stylist and salon. Always better to know one way or the other," he says.
There are a number of people who don't like getting manicures. Reasons range from they're too expensive for polish that always chips off to manicurists being a little rough when clipping and shaping the nail, but if you find a place that encourages open communication, it really helps solves these problems.
"I always begin each manicure with this question, 'How are your nails doing?' This gives the client the opportunity to mention their nail desires. It saves a lot of time in the long run, but if you are still not happy with the result, it’s okay to ask for a do-over either on the spot or at a later time," says celebrity manicurist Micelle Saunders.
As for the sometimes painful filing and cutting of cuticles? Saunders says that is definitely not normal and something should be said if it hurts. "Manicures and pedicures should not be painful," she says. If they are then the manicurist is using a rough technique or going too fast and you can say, 'Please be gentle and go slower, I have sensitive cuticles, etc.'"
At the end of the day, it really is a simple fix if something doesn't go right with a manicure. We encourage you not to get this heated. "I've been yelled and screamed at, which is quite hurtful and painful," she says. "Don't lose your cool over a manicure."
Facials can be tricky; sometimes you never know how your skin is going to react to something. It's really no one's fault when that happens, but you have to act quickly. "The best way is to call or e-mail immediately," says celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection Joanna Vargas. "If you have had a bad reaction or something is wrong with your skin, send a photo. Any esthetician would want the chance to make it right in any way they could. All anyone can do is try and help make it better."
If it's really not a great fit and you would rather see someone else for your skin needs, Vargas strongly suggests that you explain why you were unhappy so that they can learn from it. "If the client waits until they want to break up, then I wasn’t even given a chance to change or improve. If we talk about your skin monthly, but you don’t say anything to me, then the breakup is super harsh. If you feel like you can’t talk to your esthetician, then obviously it’s on her, but if she is trying to get feedback and you aren’t upfront, then it’s pretty hurtful to suddenly lose someone."
Her worst breakup? A client doing it over email. "It hurt me because she was my friend and I felt like she didn’t really talk to me about her reasons, even when I asked. We were so close in so many ways, it really took the wind out of me for a while," she says. Just another lesson that our favorite beauty people are people. Treating them with respect really doesn't take much effort, but goes such a long way.
Next up, check out what causes puffy eyes.