Psychology of a Haircut

Nervous salon client before haircut
Q: Why are women so nervous when they get a substantial haircut and change their look? I’m interested in the psychological aspects of a haircut.
A: This is actually a very deep and multi-faceted question, but I’ll touch on the main points:
1. Women are very touchy on their appearance. They invest a lot of time, thought, energy and money to look a certain way. And the way that you look affects almost every aspect of your life, as well as a lot of aspects of those closest to you, especially your children or partner.
2. Your haircut is a semi-permanent change. It’s not like an outfit that looks stupid, and can be taken off and thrown to the back of your closet. If your new color looks stupid, it’s firstly going to be publicly embarrassing. Lots of potential changes can be experimented with in an enclosed environment, such as new clothes or make-up, nails or even mannerisms.
Salons can be a very predatory-feminine environment. If your hair comes out looking like a mess, you’re going to have to keep your pose in the face of a salon full of other fashionable women. Then you’re going to have to go home and face your family. And tomorrow you’re going to have to face your work colleagues and boss. That’s a scary concept when you want to make a big change but you don’t know how it will look.
You can swallow your pride and burn your bank account by going back to the salon (or another salon) and having the hair re-colored, but the humiliation will hurt. Also, a haircut can take anywhere from two- to twelve months to grow back. That’s a long time to have to live with something that you’re regretting.
3. Changing your hair comes with a semi-permanent risk of extreme damage, especially when it comes to color or chemical straightening or curling. If you damage your hair badly enough with chemicals, your hair can actually break off to the scalp, which is probably one of the worst fears for clients and stylists alike.
4. By nature, people like to put each other into boxes, and like to know what to expect from one another. We feel safe with the familiar; it’s just the way we’ve been wired. Thus, when you make a drastic change; friends, family and colleagues tend to act reserved because they’re not sure how to feel about you looking like a completely different person.
If the change looks horrible, there’s bound to be people who won’t beat around the bush about it. On the flip side, if the change looks too good, you’re going to aggravate the jealousy of false friends or antagonistic colleagues, who will in turn try to make you look or feel bad about your new look.
See also: Haircut Phobias