Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Emotional Trauma & Your Hair


Recently I spent the evening on the phone with a good friend whose fiancé had just broken their engagement. I commiserated as I listened to her emotional heartbreak, while in the back of my mind, I planned how I could talk her down from her impending salon chop mission. My waist-length tressed friend wanted to do more than wash that man out of her hair. She wanted to cut and bleach him out as well.

While some people cut all the faces of their loved ones out of photos, or burn their letters, some believe that altering their own image is the best action to wipe the love slate clean. Hair is often the most accessible change target.

Emotional Trauma Is A Hair Hazard

Unfortunately, my friend's longing for an instant hair fix, to heal a shattered heart, is not an uncommon reaction. A 1991 published survey reported that 65% of the single women responding reported cutting or dramatically alerting their hair after a romantic crisis.

Why? There are many possible reasons from wanting to leave behind memories of "him" stroking or brushing your hair to wanting a brand new start and spiffed up image. Hair length is not the only target for dramatic redesign. Color and style are often included in the equation. Many women also want to move on back into the dating game. They may feel that a new look will give them confidence to get back out their and try on new relationships.

From the very beginning of time women have identified very strongly with their hair as who they are. It is not only how they define themselves but how society views them as well. Everything from length to color and style telegraphs a message of who you are and where your head is at.

In the case of my friend, her ex-fiancé cherished her long brunette locks. A transformation to a short blonde bob seemed like the perfect way to exact new independence and "I'll show him" revenge on her ex. She admitted that it was her way of striking back at him, in a twisted sort of way. While it might have hurt him during their time together, a major cut now would certainly haunt her in the future.

While I believe that everyone should honor their own personal hair color, length, needs and wants, I also follow the rule of removing car keys from any of my less than sober friends. I would never think of letting a friend drive drunk where harm could come to them or innocent people. Just as I would never let a heartbroken friend reach for the scissors in an altered state of emotions.

Should you intercede in a similar situation? There are no hard and fast rules. Judge each person on their own merits and unique circumstances. While you may feel comfortable with trying to handle a chop intervention, you may also decide that you need to stay out of the fray. Trust your own intuition and you can't go wrong.

Press The Pause Button

Stylists may actually dread a visit from a client with new emotional wounds. As stylist Shelley Pryor pointed out, a client asking for a dramatic new color or style will often regret it shortly after the change has been made. Shelley, like many stylists, encourages her emotionally distraught clients to take a cooling off period.

As Shelley explained "clients who cut years of hair off or go from beautiful virgin colors to bleached looks are probably not thinking through the long term consequences very well".

While Shelley is happy to work with anyone sincerely desiring a brand new hair image, she wants to be sure that the client has calmly thought it all through. After all, if she cuts or colors too quickly, an emotionally fragile client might ultimately blame her. The last thing she wants to do is lose a good client who is upset because they instructed her to destroy their hair in a fit of stress or anger.

Yes, there is the exception to the rule. Some newly divorced clients will go for a major change and totally love it. However, as Shelley mentioned, the client's frame of mind when they ask for the change is important to gauge.

Many hairstylists are like Shelley and recommend that you hit the pause button. Some hairstylists will ask you to wait 48 hours before taking the big step. Others will ask you to go home and come back with a family member or friend, hoping that your loved ones will first talk some sense into you.

Marginal Change

If a client absolutely insists on cutting their hair, Shelley will try cutting just a few inches from the length in a style that the client would most likely be okay with during normal sanity. This allows the client to have a new look that will grow out quickly and neatly. If the client really and truly wants to chop it all off, this offers a safe transition point.

When a client asks for a dramatic color change, she carefully encourages them to go with a temporary color that will add depth or shine without making a permanent and costly hue change. If the client likes the temporary look, they can come back and work on a more permanent shade solution.

As Shelley commented, "it is much easier to cut more and go lighter but it is much harder to glue hair back on or alter a dramatic color change".

Wigging Out

Cher, Naomi Campbell and Britney all utilize wigs and hair extensions to make drastic hair changes that are completely temporary. Campbell has confessed to owning dozens of styles and colors.

A wig may not be a permanent solution to a makeover itch, but it can buy some time.

After some cajoling my emotionally distraught friend agreed to go wig shopping. Her new looks now consist of a candy apple red Dutchboy bob ala Jennifer Garner in Alias, a long blonde platinum do like Cher and a bright electric blue medium shag that Manic Panic would be proud of.

Not only does she look stunning in her hot new "temporary" colors, she had a lot of fun trying on the outrageous faux hairdos. It certainly helped her laugh and relax.

Are wigs the answer for everyone in frenzied snip mode? Probably not, but it can offer a temporary option for many.

If pressing the hair pause button, buying a wig or going with a temporary new color doesn't work, then try a completely different look.


Cher, Naomi Campbell and Britney all utilize wigs and hair extensions to make drastic hair changes that are completely temporary. Campbell has confessed to owning dozens of styles and colors.

One visitor reported that they had their long hair corn rowed right after their divorce. This provided her with a completely new look and after spending all that money on braiding she wouldn't dream of cutting her beautiful hair off.

Whether you or a good friend is dealing with break-up hair blues, take a deep breath, go have a good laugh and consider some of the suggestions presented in this article. Love and nurture yourself or your wounded friend and remember that hair grows back and this too shall pass.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on or anywhere else, please post a message on's Hair Talk Forums.

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