What to Do When You Get a Disaster of a Haircut

Step One: Cry. Step Two: Rectify it.

Brunette woman receives haircut, (how to fix bad haircuts)

Photo, iStock

Bad haircuts happen to good people. It’s one of those tragic why-me situations that quickly spiral into streaky makeup-inducing tears and questioning past karma offences until finally the growing out stage is complete. We’ve all been there, and it sucks. But, luckily, there are actually answers to that question you’ll inevitably ask yourself as you leave a salon post-disastrous cut/colour/ill-advised perm, “What do I do now???”

First thing’s first: Don’t hesitate to express your disappointment to the salon; many stylists encourage going back to get the problem redressed. There’s also the option to take matters into your own hands—it’s just about knowing when and how. We spoke with Jessica Parsons, a Kérastase Artist at Hype Hair Studio, and Erin Wilson, a stylist at Pony Salon, to create a roadmap for what to do when disaster strikes.

You’ve heard it a thousand times before, but here it is once again: Bring photos of what you want your hair to look like in order to successfully communicate your desired outcome to your stylist. If that doesn’t work, here’s how to fix five common issues.

How to Fix Too-Short Bangs

No, you did not ask for Bettie Page bangs, but that’s precisely what you got. When a fringe is too short, there’s not much to do but wait for it to take its sweet time reaching your brows. Until then, you can fake a bit more length by straightening your hair. “[To get] the most amount of length, your hair has to be as flat as possible,” Parsons says. Use a paddle brush to blow-dry locks flat against your forehead, and avoid unnecessary rounding. Alternatively, you can try to hide your bangs entirely by braiding them into the lengths of your hair or pinning them back with bobby pins.

How to Fix Crooked Bangs and Lopsided Lengths

When fringe appears wonky, you can fix it without leaving the house. (Hooray!) Parsons suggests evening out bangs by point-cutting, a technique that can be achieved by holding scissors vertically and taking itty-bitty snips off from the ends for a soft but even result.

If you have a steady hand and sharp scissors, Parsons says it’s also possible to fix asymmetrical front sections yourself. Because wet hair will spring up when it dries, she recommends making these adjustments on dry hair. Start by bringing your hair over your shoulders in two parts. Straighten your posture and begin chopping horizontally.

If the discrepancy is very minor, Wilson notes that even lengths can be faked through styling. “Try curling one side slightly tighter than the other [or] use volumizing products for fine or flat texture” [to give one side more lift].

How to Fix Uneveness in the Back

Don’t try to fix unevenness in the back yourself—trust, it won’t end well. If you wanted a straight line or a V-shape, but didn’t get it, you’re going to need to head back to the salon. “And do not wait weeks,” says Wilson. “Nine out of ten times it is a quick adjustment and most salons offer this for free as long as [your desired result] was discussed in the consultation.”

How to Fix Bad Layers or Heaviness

Other incidents that require heading back to the salon include displeasing layering and weight. In this case, Parsons advises seeking out a different stylist, one that is experienced in your exact needs. “You might be better suited for someone that specializes in long layers or whatever it may be. The salon you went to originally may even have someone that can help you.”

How to Fix Colour Issues

Colour catastrophes happen to everyone, even Elle Woods. As the Legally Blonde character recounts in the sequel, “The colorist gave me Brassy Brigitte instead of Harlow Honey.” The important part is knowing what to do about it (and speaking up about the mistake if you go back to the same salon again). The right shampoo and conditoner can help fix certain disasters, suggests Wilson. For example, a purple conditioner can tone down brassiness. And a clarifying shampoo can help strip out unwanted colour. For balayage that’s too stripy, Wilson advocates for going back to a salon and having more colour smudged in to blend the root shade out.