Bad haircuts happen—but you don’t have to live with one.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated July 17, 2019
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Bad haircuts happen to all of us. But whether your bad new ’do is a result of chasing after cheap haircuts or pursuing a cut that doesn’t work with your facial structure, hair texture, or overall look, you’re going to want to learn how to fix a bad haircut, stat, because sometimes, waiting for your hair to grow out just isn’t an option.

But first, how do bad haircuts happen? According to hairstylist Kali Ferrara of the Roy Teeluck Salon in New York City, it’s usually not because of an objectively bad stylist.

“A bad haircut doesn’t always mean that a stylist doesn’t have good technical skills,” Ferrara says. Even good stylists mess up sometimes: “Not being able to give the right cut to a certain hair texture or not educating a client on the maintenance they’ll have to follow up with can ruin a client’s image for well over a year.”

To avoid a bad haircut, look for a stylist with experience cutting hair that is similar to yours. Ask for recommendations from people on the street with great-looking hair of the same texture as yours (they’ll appreciate the compliment, Ferrara promises) or look at a stylist’s social media to get a sense of what kinds of cuts they typically show off.

Ferrara recommends screenshotting pictures of work the stylist has previously done that you really like; that way, you have a definitive idea of what you want when you arrive for your first haircut with them. Once you’ve found a stylist you like, learning how much to tip for a haircut can ensure a positive stylist-client relationship (and good haircuts) for years to come.

How to fix a bad haircut

Let’s say you prepped and did your research (or maybe you didn’t—we’re all busy) but still ended up with a not-great cut or color job. Whether it’s the result of shoddy workmanship or just not what you initially pictured (if your pixie haircut is more of a bob, for example), you have some options.

“Most salons have a one-week policy for a client to have an adjustment to their cut or color free of charge,” Ferrara says. “Don’t feel timid about going back. As stylists, we really want you to be a happy customer because we value you and also want you to be our walking billboard.”

The key is to be understanding and patient—with a little compassion on your end, the stylist will likely do everything in their power to fix your bad haircut. And if you’re still unsatisfied, ask for the manager and see if they can have another stylist try to fix it or offer you a refund, Ferrara suggests.

Beyond returning to get your cut fixed (and likely having to lose some length to do so) or waiting for your hair to grow out, there’s not much else you can do to fix a bad haircut, Ferrara says—and that’s okay. A bad haircut might feel like a disaster in the moment, but a few months later, you might not even remember it.

“Everyone is human,” Ferrara says. “Stay calm and carry on. Hair is a big part of a person’s persona, but let’s be real: It does grow back.”