I have a fear of hairstylists. I’ve only had a couple of bad salon experiences in my life, but they were enough to scar me forever. Hairstylists exercise a lot of power over our appearance, after all, and that’s scary unless you really trust the person!
But the hairstylist-client relationship is a two-way street, and any hairstylist can tell you that clients can make their jobs REALLY hard. A lot of clients just don’t know what they want or don’t have realistic expectations (no, you can’t achieve rainbow unicorn hair in one coloring session!).
And then, there are the truly horrible clients. The ones who show up with hair that’s so dirty it compromises the hygiene of the whole salon, or who are sexually inappropriate, or who lose their minds with anger if they don’t like their haircut.
Here are 15 of the very worst client horror stories from stylists and barbers.
1. I had to call the mall cops.
“[I work] at a mall salon and [while I was left] in charge while the boss was on lunch, a guy came in who was tall and exotic. The other stylist thought he was cute and he asked for a blonde mohawk. Off they go; he pays and leaves happy. Everything is awesome.
Half an hour later, his mother rolls in like a shrieking Panzer. There is obviously a cultural difference because she screeches that I have defiled him like myself (I'm moderately tattooed and at the time had a few facial piercings - and wasn't the stylist who touched her son's head) and that he's 15, and school pictures are next week.
No amount of offers of rinses and buzz cuts was going to calm this woman down. She started knocking the product everywhere and basically howling.
I hit the speed dial for mall cops and left the receiver up on the counter while she had her back turned. The ruckus was loud enough, they got there shortly.
Everything was not awesome.”
- Anonymous, Reddit
“[I had a client whose] hair so dirty is smelled like soggy chicken nuggets and had layers of hardened grease in the scalp where the hair had naturally dreaded itself. I washed it 5 times and could not clean it or get the smell out.”
- Bearlypawsable, Reddit
3. I spent 12 hours detangling a client’s hair… for free.
“So this woman comes into my salon with her 8 year old daughter. Apparently they were camping in the mountains for a week, and not once did they brush this childs beautiful, back-length hair. It is one giant rats nest, filled with dirt and twigs and bugs. She asks us to detangle the hair. After myself, and multiple stylists analyzed the situation, we told her it would be impossible to salvage her hair without cutting probably about half of it off, unless she wanted to sit in the chair for the entire day, and be charged a fortune. (it was THAT bad) The mother was furious, and complained to our boss for even suggesting we would have to cut some of the hair. The boss forced three of the stylists (myself included) to spend the day detangling her hair for FREE, because the woman was apparently a friend of our boss.
So we got to work, every time we touched her head, we were met with very loud screaming and crying from the child. Understandably, it hurt her a lot for us to try to get her hair straightened out. The mother would stop us every 10 minutes, take her child outside for a break, then come back, rinse repeat.
It took us 12 hours to get her hair detangled. We didn't get tipped, and being on commission, we didn't get paid as the boss comped the service.
It was such a nightmare, thankfully we never saw them again.”
- Devornine, Reddit
4. I did a dead woman’s hair.
I work with really high-profile people, so I have definitely done people's hair while they were in the shower, in bed, or on a massage table — the list can go on! When I was starting out, I assisted someone and her client [and friend's] mother died, so she had me go with her to the funeral home to get her ready for the funeral. That probably tops it all. She looked good. But that's probably not something I would do again.”
Lacy Redway via Refinery29
5. An older female client was watching porn.
“I showed up a little early and my hairdresser told me she’d be with me soon because she was coloring an older woman’s hair. When she finally got to me, the other woman was sitting under the hair dryer and my hairdresser leaned over the chair and told me “that woman’s been watching porn this entire time and showing me everything she’s been searching”. I thought it was quite unbelievable.....until I saw her looking at it too......and she decided to share with me as well.
The worst part was the sh*t she was looking at! Definitely can’t unsee that…”
- ASL_everyday, Reddit
“I have been a hairdresser for about eight years now, and this moment still haunts me. My client was a teenage girl with the most BEAUTIFUL thick and wavy red waist-length hair. It turns out she had been caught drinking beer with her friends, so her mother was making her cut and donate her hair as punishment. The mother stayed by my side as her daughter cried the entire time. I tried to be kind and leave it as long as I possibly could, but the mother kept making a scene about cutting it shoulder-length. I've never felt so sorry or so uncomfortable in my entire career."
- Catherines44d2d8d4b via BuzzFeed
7. Clients tell me WAY too much info about their sex lives.
“In my experience the weirdest things to happen to me are when people casually mention very personal sexual fetishes/preferences like they are talking about the weather. For instance. Me: “So did you have a good weekend?” Her: “ I guess, but I found my SO using the vacuum accessories for...” I’ll let y’all figure out the rest of that story. Definitely NOT what I was asking her.”
- Lfaulker, Reddit
“This woman had dropped her older mother off at our beauty school for an appointment. During her shampoo, the client kept moaning like she was in pain, but reassured me that everything was fine. Later when I was curling her hair, she said she had to use the restroom, so we start walking to the back. Halfway there, she says, 'It's running down my leg.' In the bathroom, she pulls her pants down and has poop everywhere. I went and got a teacher and they came and changed her. It was one of the worst experiences ever for everyone involved."
- Kayla Covey via BuzzFeed
9. Some clients have an extreme reaction to their results.
“We had a client threaten to snatch a stylist’s shears and stab them in the neck. We also had a lady who called the cops because the stylist refused to bleach her severely damaged hair.”
- Kristymiss, Reddit
10. My client was sneakily touching himself.
“[I] had a guy start jerking off under his cape while I was shampooing him. The hilarious part, I usually do my clipper over comb work dry, finish up the hairline first, shampoo, then finish the rest of the cut damp. I kicked this guy out of the salon with half finished hair.”
- AdelePhytler, Reddit
“[This didn’t happen to me], but [to] one of my classmates. She was going to dye another girls hair dark chocolate brown. While washing of the dye she think it looks weird and realizes when drying it, it's purple! For some reason there was something wrong with the dye. Girl looked smoking hot in purple hair though and decided to keep it.”
- Blondie2992, Reddit
12. My client’s husband micromanaged me.
"I was cutting a woman's hair in beauty school when her husband walked in, stood right next to me, and whipped out a ruler to make sure I was cutting exactly the right amount. He kept measuring every piece as I cut and instructed which sections to cut or texturize and which to leave. Hardest haircut ever."
- Liz McCort via BuzzFeed
13. My client littered on my salon floor.
“I had a client bring takeout to the salon, eat it while she was waiting for me, and then when she got in my chair, she threw the empty container on the ground. I was like, ‘Excuse me?!’”
- Takisha-Sturdivant-Drew via Refinery29
“This guy was going to propose to his girlfriend at the end of a scavenger hunt, and she had no idea. My part was just to do her hair and then put her in a cab and send her off to the next place. When she was in my chair, I was asking her about her love life (like I do to all of my clients). I was like, ‘Oh, are you dating anybody?’ and she said, ‘No, I’m single…’ And I was like, ‘Really, not dating?’ and she says, ‘No, totally single.’ Then she batted her eyes at me in the mirror with a big smile. And I was like, Oh no, what do I do? Do I text this guy 'abort abort'? But I sent her on her way, and two or three hours later, I [texted] her to see how she likes her blowout, and she texts back, ‘I’m engaged!!!’"
- Matt Fugate via Refinery29
15. My client did her own hair while I watched.
“One of my favorite long-term clients had always booked the first two appointments with me on a Tuesday — so that we’d never be rushed. She liked to wash her hair with her shampoo and conditioner, and the haircut was usually me trimming the back to her specifications. Then we spent about 45 minutes with me standing in front of her, leaning against my station, while she used my comb and my razor and literally cut her own hair with my verbal assistance. There was a systematic and constant conversation about every single layer. It took a long time and was very unusual, but she was happy and she sent me a lot of (less particular) clients.”
- Nathaniel Hawkins via Refinery29
What’s the worst hair salon experience you’ve ever had to deal with?!