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BPGP: Fixing a Bad Haircut

I hate Jennifer Aniston.  But it’s not her shockingly mediocre acting skills or the tabloid frenzy she creates that send me into a tizzy, I hate her because of “The Rachel.” 

You see, until “The Rachel,” I could stroll into any beauty shop in America and ask to have my hair cut one length, but thanks to that mid-90s shag, hair without layers is no longer an option.  They call it movement or shape or removing bulk, but no matter what terminology they use, they always mean adding layers.  And frankly, I’m sick of living in a post-Friends world where hair without layers is unheard of.

This weekend, when I asked my new hairdresser to cut three inches off of the bottom layer of my hair and just trim the top layer, thereby achieving almost one-length hair, that’s what I thought I would get. But once again, my plans were foiled by a Layered Hair Propagandist.

Instead of getting what I asked for, I got the exact same haircut that I had before (top layer three to four inches shorter than the bottom layer), but I lost four inches in length.  To say that I am ticked off beyond measure would be an understatement.  When I pointed out to her that this was not what I had asked for, I was told that it was exactly what I had asked for, and that even if it wasn’t, I “need layered hair because my hair is so fine.”

I almost cursed obscenities.

Is it too much to ask for a hairdresser who listens?  Who doesn’t let her vision of how your hair should look trump your own? Who went to a beauty school where they taught you that there were other options besides layered hair? 

Every hairdresser that I’ve gone to since 1994 has insisted upon layering my hair to the point of shag despite my repeated assertions that I like one length hair.  I didn’t graduate from cosmetology school, but that doesn’t mean that I surrendered my right to have a say about how my hair is cut.  I’ve lived 24 years with a full head of hair, and I have some idea about how I like it to look. 

So now, instead of being happy with my hair (which, I should mention is a part of my being), I am furious that I lost six months worth of grow out.  And to the overeager implementation of the texturizing scissor, I ended up with bangs that are thick on the sides, thin in the middle, and too short when dry. 

Awesome.  I look like I’m 15.

To fix this catastrophe, I am employing a two-pronged strategy: 1) wear hair up almost every day so I don’t have to look at the bluntly-cut, uneven ends anymore. (Seriously, it looks like I cut it myself with kitchen shears.), 2) Make it grow faster.  While there is no proven way to make your hair grow faster, you can improve your nutrition, which may give you a little boost. 

Today, I will take a multi-vitamin, Folic Acid and four fish oil capsules.  I will also eat more vegetables, and drink at least one glass of milk per day.  This formula has worked for me in the past, so I assume it will work now.  But until it does, all I can do is wait.  Patiently

If anyone has a recommendation for an under $75-hairstylist who doesn’t become spontaneously deaf when a customer asks for non-layered hair, let me know.  I should need a trim in 5-6 months (grumble, grumble, grumble). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go ingest several dozen horse pills. 

Damn you, Aniston!

**Update** I think it goes without saying that I am not a medical expert and that before you start taking any vitamins, you should check with your physician.  But just in case, I said it.

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  1. terri says:

    I feel you girls pain. 30 years of really bad haircuts from as many stylist in a small rocky mountain west town. it's either layers starting three inches from the crown, the seagull cut, or the famous “wave” – bangs curled up from the 80's with long permed hair. This – no matter what I request, no matter who…with this last go around I have officially thrown in the towel. Glad to know I am not alone but wish you all better results.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. terri says:

    I feel you girls pain. 30 years of really bad haircuts from as many stylist in a small rocky mountain west town. it's either layers starting three inches from the crown, the seagull cut, or the famous “wave” – bangs curled up from the 80's with long permed hair. This – no matter what I request, no matter who…with this last go around I have officially thrown in the towel. Glad to know I am not alone but wish you all better results.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  3. Lindsay says:

    PR Partners on like 20th and K NW… I see Brooke. She is amazing, really friendly, and does exactly what you want for ~ $40 or $50.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  4. Dakota says:

    Heather at Bogart in Georgetown is amazing. I'm 'particular' about my hair and she listens and always does a great job. She also cuts my hair so that it still looks good when it's growing out, so I only get a cut 3-4 times a year. Haircuts are $60.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  5. LT says:

    Corte Salon on U Street. Yelp reviews are awesome which is why I went in the first place. I don't know the cut price since I get highlights at the same time. But, the stylist took one look at my hair and said “Ah, layers! Your hair is too fine for that. You need just a blunt cut for volume.” And they lived happily ever after.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  6. Jodi says:

    Belle, totally agree. Every hairdresser I've been to in the last 5 years looks at me like I asked them to cut each strand individually when I ask for NO LAYERS! I have really fine hair too, which is why I don't need layers to make it look all wispy and flyaway – c'mon!

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  7. a says:

    Bang Salon – Chinatown. I've had good luck with a couple people and most ask 5 million questions to make sure you get what you want – but Ryan in particular will literally do exactly what you say. And its only $42.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  8. Meg says:

    I swear by Chris at Parlous Salon on U Street. He is the only hair stylist I've found in DC that does not cut inches off of my hair when I only ask for a trim, and does exactly what I tell him to do (including not giving me layers – I have a debilitating fear of poofy hair). He even goes over with me exactly what he will be doing before making a cut. He is a little pricey at $70 before tip, but I've been going to him for years and ALWAYS leave with exactly what I've asked for, both when he cut my naturally curly hair or now that I've had it chemically straightened.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  9. Sara says:

    Belle, First of all, having been there myself on a few occassions, I'm sorry you had such a bad haircut! I'm sure it doesn't look that terrible. I had long hair, all one length for a couple of years until I got sick of it this winter. I saw Brian at VSL in Dupont Circle and he did a great job cutting my hair all one length for ~$45. I have been to Aimee at Immortal Beloved, and she was great, but $75 every 6 weeks was a little out of my price range. Recently I returned to VSL to see Guadalupe, and she was great too! Hope your hair grows quickly!

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  10. Jamie says:

    Isais at Salon Cielo Pentagon City- $45, listens and never cuts too much off. Also does great blow outs and really takes his time. Taught me how to blow out my hair myself too!

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  11. DCGal says:

    Did you demand your money back?!

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  12. Hilary says:

    THIS EXACT THING HAPPENED TO ME IN FALL!!! I specifically told my stylist that I was growing out my layers. I asked him to trim the top layers and chop like 2 inches off the bottom layers. And he gave me t layers AGAIN because may hair is fine. To say that I was pissed off was a mild statement. Since then I used Moroccanoil Light religiously to protect the top layers while they grow out. So when I went to get my haircut last month, I said to a new stylist “Do not touch my top layers at all. Just cut an inch or so off the bottom/lower layers”. And now finally I am closer to having one length hair with some face framing in the front.

    Incidentally, you are right – fine hair looks better when it is all one length. It looks thicker/fuller and more lively in general. When you have fine/layered hair, the lower layers take on this sad shoe-string appearance as it grows out. Belle, you should definitely complain to the owner of that salon if you haven't already.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  13. Jessica says:

    ohmigoddddd!! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!! I have said the exact same thing a dozen times after infinate unhappy haircuts. It boggles my mind why, when you have fine hair, they thing that layering it, thus making it look finer and more straggly at the ends, is benificial. How pretell does making my already fine hair, even thinner at the ends, equip me with a 'better' hairstyle than leaving it all one lenght and giving the illusion that its thicker?!?! I've tried telling my hairdressers every time that I want it one layer, but the always insist on 'just trimming' the shortest layer. and in my experience ALL hairdressers are scissor happy. like if i'm not sitting there for a min of 30 mins i didnt get my moneys worth. no. cut my hair the tinnnniest bit and then let me be on my merry, one-lenght, way! Damn you J.Aniston.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  14. jaime says:

    I am sitting here vigorously nodding in agreement with you while sporting a fresh “Rachel” after growing MY hair out until almost all one length-where I want it to be!! I swear…I have been feeling exactly like you -WTH what is up with me always ending up with the Rachel haircut??? I even said to my hairdresser what I DONT want to happen is for it to have the top layer “bubble” over and have a visible bottom layer flip p. And that is exactly what I got. And to make it all the worse she used a razor before I could stop her. Razors never work for my hair texture and now I have all kinds of damaged ends. GRRRRR I have also been wearing it up in a half-do.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  15. Lauren says:

    I second Bang in Chinatown. I've seen Amal a bunch of different times. While I have layers (thick curly hair), she simultaneously can cut my friend's fine hair and make it look AMAZING. And it's cheap and only takes 30 minutes

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  16. Melissa says:

    I second Bang salon in Chinatown. I go to Eden and came out with a fantastic cut every time. She starts off every appointment by asking what I want and WHY, telling me the options, and then doing exactly what I request.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  17. E says:

    I go to Heather at Hair by Paabo in Bethesda. I LOVE her, I've been going to her since I was 16 and though I did try other salons when I went to college, now I won't let anyone else touch my hair. No one is nearly as good as she is. She will do bangs — short, long, feathered, unfeathered, etc. but she will always give you exactly what you ask for. She has suggestions, but will always respect what you want. She is great with my fine hair, and somehow her cut/blow dry makes it look like my hair is twice as thick. I have baby layers now, but she cut my hair one length for years. A cut and blow dry is usually $70-75, but it's worth every penny if you go to Heather!!

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  18. E says:

    I have also heard taking Biotin supplements is good for hair health. I'm using Mane and Tail shampoo/Conditioner (don't judge me — it works!) and it makes my hair feel thicker and more healthy. It's supposed to help it grow faster.. who knows if it actually works but I like it. Make sure you get the moisturizing kind though because I've heard the normal kind is a bit drying

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  19. Christina says:

    Who did this to you?

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  20. Jay says:

    Oh Belle I'm so sorry! Have you ever tried the haircutting school in Rosslyn (right by the metro?) It's called the Graham Webb Academy… the great thing is, they're students, so they have to listen to you, write down exactly what you say, repeat it to their instructor, and tell their instructor their plans before they can cut. It's fifteen bucks, and they are super nice every time I go… kind of a nice treat out after work. I have long, thick, stick-straight hair – which makes layers so obvious and cheap-looking. I just ask them to cut across the back as if they were just taking one swipe with hedge trimmers, and I get a nice, perfectly non-layered cut. Then a little wispifying in front finishes it up.

    I hope the shock wears off your cut and you don't hate it quite as much. (Sometimes it happens, you know!)

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  21. ME says:

    I'm also on board with Bang Chinatown. Angie is my girl–makes my hair look spectacular. Granted, it's not the most soothing or ritzy environment, but hey. I'm there to get my hair did, not to listen to Enya and wear a bathrobe.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  22. Judy Karl says:

    What may have happened when you told your hairdresser you wanted your hair all the same length is she thought you meant that each strand of hair should be the same length. So if the hair on the top of your head is 4″ long, the hair at your neck will also be 4″ long. I learned long ago to not ask for a haircut “all the same length.” In hair speak you want a “bob” or a “blunt cut” with the strands all ending together “x” number of inches from your collarbone, ear lobe, etc. (use a definitive body part).

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  23. MMF says:

    Here's another vote for Bang in Chinatown. Highly recommend Roberto (especially if you're having any color done) and Ryan. Between my husband and I, we've been seeing (and recommending) them for more than three years. Good luck with the grow-out, Belle. Sounds positively frustrating. Unbelievable.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  24. Virginia says:

    Like Meg, I swear by Chris at Parlour on U Street. He. Is. Phenomenal. I usually have a general idea of what I'm want, and his suggestions have always worked great with my hair. My roommate goes to the same salon, but a different stylist (not sure who, unfortunately), and she just raves about them as well! A little pricey, but I think it's well worth it.

    And I'm so sorry about your hair!

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  25. AA says:

    If it makes you feel any better, Jennifer Aniston says that the “Rachel” is one of her biggest regrets.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  26. alex says:

    Erin at Trim in Adams Morgan (Columbia Road). Not only does she listen, she's not pushy whatsoever. As in, she's been coloring my hair for the past year, but when I scheduled an appointment for a cut-only recently, she didn't even say anything. That's a huge plus for me. Also, she's got pretty fine hair herself, so that might help you out. Trim's a bit pricey ($70 for long haircuts), but I swear by Erin. Even better? My boyfriend's been a loyal customer there for over three years and he's who suggested I go there in the first place. That's an endorsement. Good luck!

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  27. C says:

    Yet another vote for Bang in Chinatown. I've been going to Sue who gets exactly what I want everytime. I have thick hair but HATE HATE HATE layers. I need a few layers to lighten the load, somehow she hides them amazingly and gives me exactly what I want every single time. For some reason I mixed it up one day and tried out PR at Partners on K Street and SEVERELY regretted it halfway through. The woman (Katie, I think) didn't do what I wanted at all and gave me tons of layers, also she couldn't even get my hair type right. Horrible. Bang is wonderful, as you can tell from the many other votes. Seems like you can pretty much go see every stylist there and be all right, too.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  28. A says:

    Beverly at The London Bob in Old Town. After years of being talked into layers by various stylist (and never being completely happy), she reintroduced me and my locks to the single length hair cut. It was slow though… she transformed my long layers into a single length over the course of a couple cuts (aka months) so I wouldn't lose all my length. And now, it's amazing and I've never received so many compliments on my hair! She does great color too!

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  29. Marie-Christine says:

    I first tried learning proper hairdresser lingo so I could ask for exactly what I wanted. No go. I finally found the cure: pictures. First, you bring a picture of the haircut you want (that can be fun, but allow plenty of time to find it). Then once you hair is the way you want it, don't rest on your laurels, because surely the next one will hack it off in layers as well. What you do then is take some self-pictures with the cell phone. They won't necessarily look pretty :-), but you can whip it out at any time and say 'here, THIS is exactly what I want, see how it doesn't have layers?'. And if you get an outstanding haircut, take more pictures and only keep those. Make sure you're using a plain, well-lighted background, you can grimace all you want but you'll have a much better chance of getting what you want. At last.
    Also, try not to go to a very young hairdresser – chances are they don't know how to cut it the way you want it, even if they were trying.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  30. MD says:

    I see Brittany at Bang on U Street (temporarily at the Metropole location due to construction). She gave me layers my first trip, and I found them too severe for someone who can't style her own hair well. I went back and told her so and she has kept my hair at a much my uniform length. She listened and fixed it! Pre-tip cut is $42 or so! (She's also BRILLIANT for color – if anyone's looking). I have heard good things about Corte too.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  31. Sarah says:

    Try Remi at One80. He's perfection.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  32. Jen says:

    So did Teri at St. Germain do this? I started going to her but now Elisa does both my color and cut and I love her. I had a horrible, horrible experience at Bang Chinatown that involved me being a case study for new stylists at an Aveda salon in Old Town. But that was with color so cuts you may be alright.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  33. L says:

    Another vote for Bang in Chinatown. I've been going to Sean for at least three years (if not longer) and he's never done me wrong. I have very short hair, and found my way to him after stopping a woman on the street and asking where she'd gotten her amazing haircut, but several friends now go to him as well, and they have hair ranging from thick, straight and halfway down the back to a fine bob to my length and everything in between. I know a ton of people who go to other stylists at Bang, as well, all of whom love their haircuts and get exactly what they want.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  34. whattokeep says:

    Oh, god, it's especially heinous when they screw up bangs! Can you say more about the vitamins you're taking? What do they do? When I was pregnant and on pre-natals my hair got really long and thick and my nails were amazing. But given how much is in them, I would be kind of scared to take regular vitamins and fish oil in addition to this. But now my nails are crappy and brittle, so hurting my liver might be worth it. How long do you do this? Thanks!

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  35. Belle says:

    JEn- No. Teri is not responsible, she would never have given me short bangs.

    Teri and I have been on a break because my wallet is thinner than usual right now. Hopefully, I will be able to afford her in a few months when I'm ready for another cut.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  36. R says:

    I have my hair all one layer and have had no problems with Molly at Bubbles on Pennsylvania giving me exactly what I ask for. And it only costs $30 plus a tip. I highly recommend her! I started going to her when someone recommended her in one of your posts a while back.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  37. Kara says:

    If you want hair to grow fast, I highly recommend biotin supplements (they sell them at GNC etc). Warning: they make ALL your hair grow like crazy. I stopped taking it b/c my arm hair growth was simply unacceptable. However, my mane looked sparkling.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  38. Belle says:

    Kara- That's funny.

    April 12, 2011/Reply
  39. Emmy says:

    Try prenatal vitamins. They thickened my hair (not pregnant!) and helped a terrible cut grow out a little faster.

    April 13, 2011/Reply
  40. 202trinity says:

    I also go to Sean at Bang in Chinatown. I've been seeing him for 3 years and ALWAYS love the cut and get lots of compliments every time. My hair is short (chin length) and very fine, but he layers it and it looks great. I've recommended several friends to him and they all love him also. But I know pretty much anyone there would do great. And it's very reasonably priced!

    April 13, 2011/Reply
  41. Deb says:

    Why is it that hairstylists have no idea what to do with fine hair? Lately every time I am not perfectly clear about what I want I end up with what looks like a mullet. Sigh. I am in the middle of growing one out right now… My favorite thing is I ask when I book appointments if the stylist is good at thin, fine hair I get the response “oh so and so is great at all types of hair” … not what I asked. I just need someone who when they see that my hair is thin and fine they aren't immediately like “volume!” “layers!” cause that's not what I want!

    I am definitely going to try the vitamins or biotin — I am hypothyroid which means that I lost a lot of my hair before I was properly treated so I not only need length, I need hair!

    April 13, 2011/Reply
  42. D says:

    I second Angie at Bang in Chinatown – she not only cuts my hair all one length, but she agrees that that is what looks best as well! So there's no arguing about it beforehand.

    April 13, 2011/Reply
  43. Adrienne says:

    I second Eden at Bang Chinatown. I've gone to several stylists there over the years, and I've never gotten a bad haircut.

    April 13, 2011/Reply
  44. tiaracara says:

    I am going to second the Pre-natal vitamins… hair and nails grows faster- and skin improves too! (folic acid, vitamin D, etc)- and put in a vote for Essam or anyone at Fringe in Georgetown on Wisconsin.. we have been together for 8 years.

    April 13, 2011/Reply
  45. terri says:

    I feel you girls pain. 30 years of really bad haircuts from as many stylist in a small rocky mountain west town. it's either layers starting three inches from the crown, the seagull cut, or the famous “wave” – bangs curled up from the 80's with long permed hair. This – no matter what I request, no matter who…with this last go around I have officially thrown in the towel. Glad to know I am not alone but wish you all better results.

    April 14, 2011/Reply
  46. Lexi says:

    I rarely get my hair cur for this exact reason! My hair is thick and curly and does not do layers, but each person that I tell this to, doesn't listen and I end up looking like a soccer mom! The best haircut I ever got was in Poland from a woman who barely spoke English…I pointed and held my fingers about an inch apart and it was the best cut ever.

    April 15, 2011/Reply
  47. emily says:

    voula at miracles in rosslyn! it's only $30 and a cute family-run salon. she really listens and, seriously, $30 for a cut with blow-dry in this city was unbelievable to me.

    April 16, 2011/Reply
  48. Kimberly says:

    FYI, Jennifer also hated ‘The Rachel’.

    June 26, 2013/Reply