Yes, hairdresser phobia is a thing! Here’s how to help nervous clients

By Hair Expert Nicole Petty at Milk + Blush

While a true phobia of haircuts is rare, also known as tonsurephobia, general anxiety and apprehension around visiting the salon might be more common than you’d think, with one in six admitting to crying over a bad haircut.

Hair horror stories of people leaving salons in tears aren’t uncommon, but for some, the anxiety of a bad haircut begins before they even reach your chair.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, here’s how to create a calm and welcoming environment for even the most nervous of clients.


Navigating social anxiety 

With nearly one in four individuals reporting high levels of anxiety, according to the ONS, the salon can be both a sanctuary and a source of stress.

While some clients revel in pampering and social interaction, others may feel overwhelmed, especially if small talk isn’t their forte.

As hairstylists, our mission goes beyond perfecting hairdos; it’s about creating a comfortable experience for every client. While friendly banter is part of the charm, tuning into your client’s cues is equally vital. Ask yourself whether they are leaning back in discomfort. Or do they seem reserved?

Offering clients the choice to engage in conversation or enjoy a quiet moment can transform the salon visit from a dreaded chore into a cherished treat. Taking care to tailor the experience to suit each individual ensures not just customer satisfaction but also loyalty.

Setting expectations 

In the world of hairstyling, where “hair is the crowning glory,” it’s no wonder clients place immense trust in their stylists, which can be daunting for both parties.

Whether it’s a bold new look or a simple trim, it’s crucial for stylists to listen attentively and respect the client’s wishes. Even if you have a brilliant idea, remember it’s their mane, and they’re the ones flaunting it daily.

Especially for those with extra-long locks, a big chop to tidy the ends might seem like the answer to healthier hair, but if it doesn’t align with the client’s vision, it’s a missed opportunity.

Clear communication from the get-go is the key. Encourage clients to bring inspiration photos and dedicate time to discussing their preferences.

If a chosen style isn’t a good fit for their hair type or the colour choice won’t suit their complexion, it’s much better to be honest to manage their expectations. After all, a satisfied client is the ultimate testament to a job well done.

Addressing previous traumatic experiences 

Not every trip to the salon is a pampering experience. For some, it’s downright traumatic.

Everyone has heard horror stories of hack jobs and hair frying off at even the most reputable salons. But for those unfortunate enough to experience this first-hand, trust can be hard to come by.

Bad experiences at other salons can taint a client’s impression before they’ve even sat in the salon chair, so it’s vital you take the time to talk to new clients without judgement.

Instead of dismissing their past experiences, acknowledge them. Creating a safe space for open dialogue and showcasing expertise with empathy and understanding will demonstrate a commitment to delivering a superior, trauma-free salon experience.

Treating insecurities with empathy

Getting up close and personal with a client’s scalp is par for the course for hairstylists. But for some clients, this can be a daunting prospect.

Skin conditions, like dandruff or psoriasis, while common, can be a point of insecurity for many. Hair professionals must treat this with empathy and respect.

Establishing a warm rapport with clients is essential for creating an atmosphere where they feel safe discussing their concerns. However, it’s important to let the conversation unfold naturally, avoiding any forced discussions that might add to their unease.

Providing aftercare

The best hair stylists know that customer service doesn’t just end when the customer leaves the salon.

Often, clients may leave the salon seemingly satisfied only to notice perceived flaws when they get home, which can be a source of stress for your customers.

Having clear lines of communication, such as a dedicated work phone number clients can call or text, will go a long way to building trust, particularly when things go wrong.

Even the most esteemed salons will face customer complaints once in a while. So, it’s important hairstylists know how to navigate this in a professional and respectful manner to avoid losing the customer.