Tech by VICE

Hair Stylists Tell Us About Their Worst Clients

"Mall security had to be called."

by Sean McManus
Jul 21 2016, 5:30pm

Image via Lia Kantrowitz for VICE

We all have hair-care routines, and they usually involve a trip to the barbershop or beauty salon. Those trips, hopefully, result in something we can live with—but sometimes, things go horribly for the client and stylist. We asked some hair stylists about their biggest nightmare clients.

JILL

I once got a death threat from a terrible client on Yelp for "ruining" her life. She was difficult to begin with, made worse by not taking my professional advice. She came into the salon with over-processed hair and no idea how she wanted it cut. I should've told her "I can't help you," but I tried to work with her. She wanted me to do things with her hair type that were physically impossible, but I tried to make her happy. Even though I had other clients waiting, I stayed with her well over the time she booked, too. Stylists sometimes get a bad rap, but most of us try to make the client's hair better than it was when they came in—but some people you just can't help.

ASHLEY

I once did the hair of an entire family that fell apart. The wife left the husband, and they both continued to come to me until he found out she had cheated on him. (It's astounding what clients tell their stylists. Not only do we make you look good, but we also become your therapists!) The wife quit coming because the husband wanted to have me subpoenaed—he thought I knew all her secrets—so she cut ties, thinking he would leave me alone. He still comes to me, though, and he's gotten crazier. Their divorce has been final for a couple of years now, but he still bitches about her. I give him quick, shitty cuts in the hope that he'll go away, but he never does.

JULIE

I have a client whose hair I've been doing for about 14 years, and her sanity gets progressively worse every year. She has severe OCD and makes seven appointments before showing up to one. When she comes in, she cleans the salon's bathroom before I start. For a brief period, she tried to convince me to be her personal shopper. She also wanted me to make her housecleaning appointments for her and help her communicate with a pen pal. I declined.

DEIDRE

I had a client that thought he was funny, but he wasn't. He considered himself the "life of the party," but he wasn't aware of how obnoxious he was. That wasn't even the worst part about him, though: He always insisted on eating while I cut his hair. At his first appointment, he had a pizza delivered. Have you ever tried to do someone's hair while they eat a large pizza? It's not easy. I tried to let him know it was uncouth by asking if he thought food and hair mixed. He didn't get it, and he brought food the next couple times I did his hair, too. I finally cut him loose, and he didn't understand why I let him go. He thought he could do whatever the hell he wanted because he was a good tipper, but he was wrong.

MARTHA

As a stylist, you take what you can get until you build a clientele. I started my career at a "big name" salon in the mall under the assumption that I'd get more foot traffic. The clientele was a mixed bag—teens, geriatrics, soccer moms—and since I was the "noob," they'd give me all the teens (that don't tip, mind you). A goth teen came in and wanted me to shave half her head, so I gave her what she wanted and forgot about it—that is, until the dad came and screamed at me over it. He wanted to "press charges" against me, and mall security had to be called. I wanted to quit immediately, but instead I just found a more legit place to work.

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