When we say, "These Hairdressers Are Confessing Their Customer Horror Stories" we aren't talking about a few rude customers here and there or a couple of bad haircuts.
We are talking about putrid smells, lice, dreadlocks, unwashed hair, unbelievably bad smells and more. Did we mention the disgusting smells. BRB. I gotta barf. After you read these posts, you'll be dying to tip your hairdresser a little extra next time you see them. We promise you that!
pewpewpewnopew: Been a barber for over 23 years, and one of the nastiest thing I saw was when I used my comb to find his part, and I noticed that the teeth of my comb was leaving deep gouges in the thick unwashed crud on his scalp. At least 1/8th inch deep gouges. Choked back my bile and asked him togo home and shower.
First one, guy comes in for a haircut...Well all seems well, he gets a shampoo and then I go to cut and I notice this weird flappy thing on the top of his scalp so I take a look at it thinking it's a scab or something. Well, it has legs...
So I take the fine teeth of my comb and pick this little critter out. Come to find out, dude had a tick on his head and he probably wouldn't have noticed had I not picked it off. Pics for proof: http://imgur.com/a/Xm2HJ
subtlesubterfuge: When I was an assistant at my first salon right out of school we had classes every Wednesday night. Well one week I couldn't find a model in time so my mentor had someone she knew come in and be my model. So the model comes in, seems perfectly normal. She sits in my chair I start the consultation and start looking through her hair to see what I'd need to do. Apparently this young lady had not washed her hair in what I'm assuming was weeks because her hair was so greasy that every time I touched her hair my hand came back drenched in grease.
And the smell, oh man I'll never forget that smell. It was the worst thing I've ever had the displeasure of working with. I asked my mentor if I could shampoo her before starting and was told that I couldn't. So here I am working on this girl who almost literally has grease dripping from her hair. I must have washed my hands 10 times that night. Needless to say I had my own model for every class after that one.
I have other stories from my time teaching as well. Lots of lice and people leaving the school bleeding
beckywithgoodhare: My cousin is a hairdresser. One time a woman brought in her special needs son. He had some hygiene issues and his ears were covered in blackheads. While all the other hairdressers recoiled in horror, my cousin gritted her teeth and gave that kid the best haircut she could. I really respected my cousin after that.
2: I was brand spanking new to doing hair in a community that was mostly old people. Well, lady comes in looking for a haircut and I shit you not, she had a giant crust mountain on her head. I wanna say like 3 inches in diameter. It was disgusting.
Now I know due to laws in my state you can refuse service if there is a medical condition like that. Well me being brand new, did not know this. She brought in a medicated shampoo from her Dr., so I used it on her and it smelled like cat food. During the cut, she had lumps of crust falling out and it was disgusting. I will never do that again.
saltmother: Not particularly nasty, but horrifying nonetheless: My mom was a hairdresser for 20 some odd years and the worst story I ever heard was about a woman and a perm. This woman lied to my mom and told her she had never had her hair processed - colored, lightened, nothing - so my mom went ahead with the perm.
Rods in, perm solution done, she's at the bowl and starts rinsing her hair, and the perm rods just start falling out with the hair still on them. She left the salon nearly bald people! Turns out she had, indeed, used box color. The moral of the story is don't lie to your stylist! No matter how embarrassed you are about using box color.
LibraryLuLu: My mother was a hair dresser in the 1960s for Vidal Sasson. During the time of the beehive. Customers wouldn't wash their hair for weeks, they'd just keep spraying it to keep it in place as it was such a complicated do. This meant a LOT of fleas, lice, and on one occasion cockroaches that had to be washed out.
For some reason this never bothered my mother all that much, but hearing about it made sure I never, ever wanted any kind of hands on customer service job.
girlofthewoods: I used to work as a receptionist at a high end salon. One day, a lady called and asked if we had anyone who specialized in cutting curly hair. I matched her up with someone, asked the standard questions, and made the appointment, which turned out to be for her granddaughter.
When the family showed up, the mother and grandmother were white, and the granddaughter was African American. They obviously didn't know (and didn't bother to learn how to take care of the girl's hair, because it was in a giant, waist-length ponytail that was completely matted. She also had a bit of a developmental disability, and they claimed she would not wash her hair herself.
I could smell her as soon as she walked in, but when the stylist got her hair wet at the shampoo bowl, the smell quickly permeated the entire salon. It was like a punch to the gut. The hair stylist had to keep coming up front for fresh air. She said giant flakes/sheets of dandruff and buildup were basically crusted to the girl's scalp and throughout her hair. The matted ponytail was the worst of it. What should have been a simple 45 minute service ended up taking over four hours.
The girl looked great when she was done. I felt terrible for her because it was pretty obvious that her mom and grandma had no intention of keeping her hair maintained. I got the impression that they basically only took her for a haircut when things got completely out of control. I was horrified that they apparently weren't even bothering to wash her hair at home. They bought a bunch of products that the stylist recommended, but ended up returning everything a day or two later.
HirosProtagonist: My wife once worked at a store that hosted Princess Parties for young girls, normally around ages of 4-10. They would all put on gowns, get their hair styled and have a tea party/whatever. As my wife started styling one girls hair (The host/queen of the party, naturally) she noticed something on the end of her comb.
Lice. Head infested with tons of crawling white lice. Being thee awesome professional my wife is, she quietly stopped combing, washed her hands and threw the comb away. She then pulled the the girls mother aside to the little girls chair and quietly informed her of what she had found. The mother apparently wanted this day to be awful for her daughter. She started screaming and rushed to the chair digging into her daughters hair. The mother was not quiet about it. She was screaming,
"She has LICE?!" over and over while her daughter started crying in the chair with all her friends gawking at her like a free freak show. This is why therapist make money.
Also had a girl (12-13 years old) come in who wanted partial highlights in her hair. Saw some white stuff while combing through, asked her if she had any condition like dandruff. She said she had dandruff. I asked if it itched, to which I got the reply "no". Shrugged it off. Halfway through the service, took a slice of her hair, saw a louse crawl across her scalp. Nearly dropped my comb.
"Hey I'll be right back" I told her. Quietly went up to one of my mentors and whispered "we got a
pedicament", which to anyone listening just sounds like I have a speech impediment and can't say the word 'predicament'. But my teachers know that 'pediculosis' is a technical term for lice. Halfway through this service, with foils and bleach all still in her hair, I had to tell this 12 year old I couldn't keep working on her because she has lice. Worst part is, I couldn't wash out the bleach for fear that lice would spread around. Had to have the girl sit with a plastic cap on her head, crying, while her mother had her hair done.
sometimes_ always: I had a young man come in with his mother. He was about 8 years old and had tight curly hair. His mother ask me to shave down to a 00000 that is the shortest you can go with clippers. I said sure it was my last cut of the day and I was eager to go home. I start the service and notice barely 1/3rd in that he had a lice infestation under the tight curly hair.
I mean these guys were huge. Probably why his mother needed me to shave it off. So.. I discontinued the service and spent the next 3 hours disinfecting everything in sight. The boys mother called the barbershop later to complain because I wouldn't finish shaving her sons hair. We tried to explain that it was illegal for us to continue the service as it might spread lice to others and recommended a specialty shop that could take care of this for them but she demanded that it was because we were racist. That was fun.
pixelmeow: I had a woman come in one day who had hair halfway down her back. She just wanted a trim. I got her shampooed, into my chair and began combing her hair, and noticed a peculiar smell and what looked a bit like dry scalp (but not quite). I looked a bit closer and the "flakes" were actually little translucent nits. Lice eggs. I could see tiny black things.
Hairdressers are of course not doctors, so we can't diagnose, which means I had to tell this woman that she needed to go see a doctor and I couldn't do her hair, but I couldn't come right out and tell her she had lice. I told her it looked like it might be lice, and she worked with kids so it was a good "guess". She was sooo0o embarrassed. I had to throw away a really nice cape along with several towels and had to disinfect everywhere she had been.
I had some people over about 8 years who had crusty stuff on the scalp and around the ears. They tended to go a while between baths, which you can tell because people develop a "funky" smell in their hair. The hair gets a distinct aroma. Little kid hair has a similar smell. It takes a lot of washing to get that odor off your hands.
MeebleBlob: My sister worked as a receptionist at a foofy high end salon. A regular client came in and idly said something about how her scalp had been itching a lot ... she had head lice and didn't even know. The stylist pulled aside my sister and said, "Get twenty out of the register, run to the drug store, get some Rid. Throw away the box and bring the bottles to me.
The stylist then told the client that she'd be getting an additional shampooing to help with the scalp, treated the ladies hair, combed out the nits, then washed, styled and blew-out as normal.
Drusylla: When I was in cosmetology school, usually during summer/back to school, we always had a few parents bring their kids for the "big shave". Our instructors always warned us to double-check the scalp before agreeing to any service because 9/10, the kid(s) had lice.
If we did see lice running around, we had to get our instructors ASAP so they could officially deny the service and then we'd have to close the whole clinic floor down and majorly disinfect everything.
From a former Redditor: My husband is a barber... One day, he had a guy come in with dreads, wanting them all shaved off. He parted his dreads, looked at his scalp, and noticed it was green! He touched it and saw it ripple. He asked the guy when he'd last washed his hair. He replied, "About three years ago." My husband realized the guy's whole scalp was covered in a layer of pus! Sent him straight to the emergency room to have it drained and treated with antibiotics.
nursebeast: Nurse here, but had a patient once with not so much dreadlocks as a single... dreadcap. I thought neurosurgery had occurred because she was admitted wearing an OR hat... It was to hide the mess beneath.
The facility hairdresser had to give her a crew cut.
nurimoons: When I was in school, I had a lady come in and she wanted a cut, and a manicure. I loved those appointments because it blocked a good amount of time, but was fairly easy.
First off, I've been around smokers my whole life but this woman REEKED of cigarettes. Like she smoked them in her house and car, all the windows rolled up, I couldn't even understand how she could have that strong of a cigarette odor permeating off her. I get her draped and start asking her what she's looking for, I start to run my fingers through her bleach blonde hair, to see what I'm dealing with here, and a piece of her hair just FALLS OFF IN MY HAND. At this point I have a look of horror on my face and started mumbling something along the lines of "Your hair!..I'm so sorry!" And very calmly she says, "Oh a chunk fell out? That happens sometimes, it's fine. " I politely tell her that she might want to get that checked out.
So I go get her shampoo and conditioner and I take her to the bowl, turn on the water and her hair turned to bleach blonde mush, (other stylists know what I mean), and has now made the whole salon reek of wet dog/cigarette. I used about a cup of conditioner in her. It was the most rough hair cut I've ever done, and it was a very simple bob.
hinky28: I once had to turn a lady away after she booked in for hair extension removal. The micro bonded type your stylist should tell you last three months max. Nobody told this lady. They had been in for seven months! My boss booked her in with me (the extensions weren't done in my salon) I took one look at it and told her I couldn't help.
There was a chunk of hair about six inches wide that was matted with bits of hair glue (not what we use) poking out. To me her options were shave it or cut it almost to the scalp. Some "hairdressers" shouldn't be allowed
leavingNYCtoday: Oooh another. One time a woman brought her 8 yr old daughter in to get her hair done. The mother's a bitch but that little girl was the sweetest most polite little girl we've ever had. Unfortunately, it's like the mom NEVER took care of her hair! That poor little girls hair was so dirt and tangled it took 3/4 ppl working on her hair for almost 3 hours to get it untangled and clean enough to run a brush through it.
It was soooo sad how embarrassed this poor little girl was. We basically told the mom to leave her with us and we tried to be as kind and as encouraging as we could be be it was not a pain free process. I'll never forget that sweet little girl and how thankful she was for her pretty hair. All of our clients were disgusted by the mother, but she acted like it was nothing.
PoopsieDoodles: Bit of a different horror story, but my stylist once had a woman with hair past her butt who wanted to donate everything to Locks of Love. EVERYTHING.
This woman with hair down nearly to her thighs says she wants a pixie cut, and is donating everything else. After checking multiple times to see that she was positive she wanted a pixie, and not a short bob or anything, the stylist starts cutting.
The woman sobbed the entire time. Like, shoulder shuddering sobs in the dressing chair with her sad little haircut cape on.
Stylist kept asking if it was ok, but the woman was determined to help people with cancer, and told her to keep going and to ignore her tears.
My stylist said it was the most awkward experience of her life. Other customers kept coming in and probably assumed she was maiming this poor woman.
killingALLTHETIME: I'm sure this will be buried at this point but here's a semi relevant story: So this girls hair wasn't particularly nasty, but she has this knot in the back of her head. Kind of like she had a skinny braid back there and let it get out of control. It was knotted up, but nothing I couldn't comb out, I've seen way worse. Anyway, she wanted a full head of highlights, but wanted me to "work around" the knot. She wouldn't let me even attempt to comb it out. It was so fucking weird. She got an attitude with me when I told her I couldn't do my job properly if she wouldn't let me get the knot out first. Finally she realized I wasn't going to budge and said something along the lines of, "so I guess you won't do my hair till the knot is gone..." and gets up and leaves.
Fwiw, she wasn't trying to have a dreadlock there or anything, just had a knot, didn't want to comb it out herself, told me she was "weird" about her hair (yeah, no shit) so she didn't want me to comb it out.
toreadorable: When I was in school, I had a regular client who was around 90 years old and pretty sassy. She had a...growth on her head that was at least 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.
It was irregular and black and red and is what I would draw if you asked me to draw melanoma. She refused to accept advice about going to the doctor for it. I gave her a perm a couple of times and just tried to pretend it wasn't there. But I can still see it 10 years later.
gcattoggio: One of the first shops I worked in there were two individuals who would regularly come in for cuts. Both of them were physically so dirty it changed their skin tone, and they absolutely REEKED of cat piss. Being close to them made my eyes water, and it was extremely difficult to breathe as the smell of ammonia was just plain overwhelming.
We never turned them away, and we were always as polite as we could be... But fuck if those haircuts didn't feel like they lasted three hours.
bzookee: Long time ago but I had to wash and cut a teenager that hadn't washed his hair in what looked like months. Salon policy was to wash after a men's cut and the smell was awful.
After his cut, I tried to wet his hair in the shampoo bowl and the water just ran off his hair because of all the oil buildup. I had seen a lot during my years as a stylist but that was the worst experience.
3: Last one, lady comes in and explains her step-daughter has been in the hospital for 6 mos dealing with treatment from Anorexia and her hair is a mess and she asks if she can bring her in for us to fix it. Ok sure, why not. Well... girl comes in and she's probably 95 lbs soaking wet and sobbing from anxiety and crying.
At this hospital she was at, supposably no one washed her hair FOR 6 MONTHS. So I tried to wash it and she was crying and screaming and her scalp was red and irritated and covered in knots and flakes. I sat with her for 2 hours trying to comb out all the knots but she cried the whole time and my hands were covered in gunk. I still don't know whatever happened to that girl. I hope she's ok.