Bad Haircuts Are (Almost) Inevitable—This Is How You Can Deal With One

bad haircut
Stocksy | Design by Zackary Angeline .

As a professional hair stylist with many skilled stylist friends, my years of experience have taught me that just because someone is good at their job, it doesn’t mean they are going to be good for you. Personal aesthetics, lifestyle, and habits all factor into what we need in a haircut. Aside from our desires and day-to-day realities, there can also be a language barrier we face when communicating what we want to see from our haircuts. For example, "piece-y" can mean something different to you than it does to your stylist. Even the word "trim" can have varied interpretations. 

Our hair is more than a mere expressive tool—it's a part of how we represent ourselves to the rest of the world. Our haircuts hold a lot of power, which is why a bad haircut can trigger deep feelings of insecurity and discomfort in one’s skin. We tapped hairstylists Holly Seidel and Corinna Hernandez for their advice on what to do in these crisis moments to help regain your power and confidence.

Meet the Expert

  • Holly Seidel is a hair stylist splitting her time between Los Angeles and Seattle, Washington. She is known for cuts that emphasize natural texture and movement. 
  • Corinna Hernandez is a hair stylist, educator, and founder of PONY studios + salon in Oakland, California.

Ahead, seven tips on what to do when you've gotten a bad haircut, straight from the pros.

01 of 07

Talk to Your Stylist

We get it: It can be intimidating to approach a professional artist and say some version of "I don’t like your work." But a good stylist knows their cuts are personal to the client, not the stylist. The beauty of the job (take it from me, a professional) is making people feel good about how their hair looks. 

If you’re a long-time client and feel comfortable with your stylist, Hernandez encourages having that conversation. “It could have been a simple miscommunication,” she points out. Or maybe there are a few minor things that you don’t quite like, in which case, Seidel says, “your stylist can still make adjustments.” If it’s more than a few minor tweaks causing your distress, it may be time to re-evaluate your choice of stylist. But before you jump into another artist’s chair, “most professional hairdressers would love the opportunity to fix it and make sure you’re happy, [perhaps] by comping a service or product," says Hernandez.

02 of 07

Get a Second Opinion

After talking with your stylist, you may opt for a second opinion from the salon owner or a more senior stylist. If it feels like you and your stylist are missing each other, there may be someone else around the corner who is on the same page. “If you let your original stylist know that you are getting [your cut] fixed, they may refund you or comp the new service so you’re not paying twice,” says Seidel. And while Hernandez points out that a more skilled stylist is usually more expensive due to their high demand, “[their] cuts usually grow out beautifully. If you only end up needing a haircut one to three times a year, you’ll be saving your dollars in the end."

“Most skilled cutters are not only better at their craft, but can better understand your wants and needs more accurately," says Hernandez. Seidel agrees: The more seasoned a stylist is, the more capable they are of helping you navigate the best choices for moving forward. Don’t be ashamed to seek out a second opinion—invest in your haircuts.

03 of 07

Grow it Out

Have you ever gotten a cut that has been made drastically shorter than you’d hoped for, only to realize it’s too late and there’s no turning back? It can feel apocalyptic, we know. But what you do not want to do is fix it yourself. “This can often make [your cut] much worse and the grow-out period could take much longer,” Seidel warns.  

We realize that growing out a bad cut may not seem like the ideal option, but depending on how your hair’s been cut, it may be your best solution. “Don’t panic," Seidel says. “Not only does hair grow quickly, but more often than not, some adjustments can be made by your hairdresser to help your hair sit better as it’s growing in.” If you mess with a bad haircut too much, you risk the potential of making matters worse. Hang in there. And if you simply can’t wait it out, see our next recommendation.

04 of 07

Try Extensions

Maybe your hairdresser got a little snip happy. Maybe your layers are way too extreme. Bad cuts like these can rely on the safety net of hair extensions. These nifty little wefts of clip-in hair are extremely easy to use for beginners, with no prior experience necessary. Extensions can add length and/or volume, and they can also help blend a bad haircut. Plus, they’re honestly pretty fun to wear.

Tape-ins or bonded extensions are more of a longer-term solution, whereas clip-ins or halos can afford you the daily decision and don’t require professional installation. A little back combing at the root will give your clips some good grip to hold onto so they don’t slip out. And if you spend a little more money on getting Remy hair (aka real human hair that’s not synthetic), you can heat style with your extensions in as you normally would. For top-tier quality and service, we recommend going to a store/website like The Hair Shop.

05 of 07


Accessorizing can be a great way to mask any minor problems with your haircut. Unfavorable bangs? Opt for a ‘00s poof. Chunky layers? A fun claw clip can jazz up your half-up ‘do with minimal time and effort. “Cute updos with fancy hair clips can make the most out of your hair situation until your hair gets long enough to wear down,” says Hernandez. And as Seidel points out, accessory options like decorative pins and oversized clips have been making a big comeback, so your styling options won’t feel limited. “Also, there are so many great hat options for every season,” Seidel says. “This could be a good time to find your hat personality.”

06 of 07

Research Stylists

Loyalty is the crux of our business as hairdressers, but some relationships naturally drift apart. Seeking out another stylist after getting a bad cut from your tried-and-true should come with some serious preparation, investigation, and certainty that the move will bring relief. “Realize that not every hairdresser has the same aesthetic style, training, or experience,” says Seidel. “Hairdressers are very specialized nowadays and gravitate towards certain types of hairstyling, similar to tattoo artists.”

But how do you know which new hairdresser will be right for you? “Ask people you know with good haircuts and similar hair as your own where and who they go to,” suggests Hernandez. Or Google what you’re looking for: “[Search] best hairdresser in your town or nearby.” When you think you’ve found someone good Hernandez recommends checking their social media or website—asking yourself, Does this match my hair type? My aesthetic?—and reading their bio, making note of the education they’ve received. “The more education they’ve had, the better,” she says. “That’s usually a good sign that they put some studying into their craft.”

07 of 07

Try Something New

Some of us have had the same hair routines for decades. When dealing with an undesired haircut, this could create some hiccups in what you’re used to doing and the styling habits that feel familiar. But it’s important to remember to keep an open mind. Different styling options are a great way to get through the transition. “Maybe switch up your part or flip your hair out,” suggests Seigel. “Even using a curling iron to add waves can disguise a bad cut well.” After all, a bad haircut is only temporary, “so why not give a new style a try while your cut grows out.”

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