“Next Customer PLEASE!” - Hair Stylists’ NIGHTMARE You Must Know

Matted Hair

Have you ever sat next to another customer with a TOTALLY wrecked hair at the salon? You can probably read the mind of the stylist at that moment and the horror they must feel. We decided to hear directly from the horse’s mouth and gathered stories from hairstylists in the Reddit community. Some of these cases are extremely gross and jaw-dropping. Check them out!

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. 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, completely matted, waist-length ponytail. 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 hairstylist 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 that 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 maintaining her hair. 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. girlofthewoods

Dirty and Smelly

 In one of the first shops I worked in, there were two individuals who would regularly come in for haircuts. Unlike other customers, these two are both challenges. Two 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 heck, if those haircuts didn't feel like they lasted three hours. gcattoggio

Hairspray Aftermath

My mother was a hairdresser 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 hairdo. And guess what? 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, but hearing about it made sure I never wanted any kind of hands-on customer service job. LibraryLuLu

Underneath Surprise

I had a young man come in with his mother. He was about 8 years old and had tight curly hair. His mother asks me to shave down to a 00000 which 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 noticed an extreme surprise. 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 boy's mother called the barbershop later to complain because I wouldn't finish shaving her son's 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. sometimes_always

Oil Slick

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 and 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, what I discovered, later on, was the start of my misery. 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 subtlesubterfuge

Freak Show

My wife once worked at a store that hosted Princess Parties for young girls, normally around the ages of 4-10. They would all put on gowns, get their hair styled, and have a tea party or whatever. As my wife started styling one girl's 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 the awesome professional my wife is, she quietly stopped combing, washed her hands, and threw the comb away. She then pulled the girl's mother aside to the little girl's 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 daughter's 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 therapists make money. HirosProtagonist

See a Doctor

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 so embarrassed. I had to throw away a nice cape and several towels and 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, which a little kid's hair has a similar smell, and it takes a lot of washing to get that odor off your hands. pixelmeow

Completely Rotten

When I was in school, I had a lady come in and she wanted a cut, and a manicure. I loved those appointments because they blocked a good amount of time, but were 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 guess what happened? 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, and has now made the whole salon reek of wet dog/cigarette. I used about a cup of conditioner on her. It was the roughest haircut I've ever done, and it was a very simple bob. The manicure was even worse, she had coat upon coat of nail polish on all of her fingernails, I let them soak, took them out, and tried to take some of the polish off, and it wouldn't come off. I took my wooden dowel and tried chipping some of it off. Cue my horror when the wooden dowel sunk into her fingernail. The stench coming from it I will forever remember. Like a mix of rotting corpse and durian fruit. I alerted my teacher who told her she probably had a nail fungus and that she needed to go to the doctor. She put me in the dispensary for the rest of the day. nurimoons

Can’t Breathe

I did a stint in barbering school last year before my wife and I split. She is a hairstylist and I only did it to appease her. Anyway, I had some nasty haircuts during my time there, the most notable was this group of guys that came in and they were all family I think, and older maybe 40s but looked like man-children. So I get this one guy who is in sweats and looks like he hasn't showered in a good two weeks. He sits down and I could instantly smell him. It was putrid, and it wasn't like dirty homeless bad it was like super BO greasy stank. I cape him up and he clearly has no idea what he wants so we go back and forth and he wants a trim or whatever as he had like maybe 5 inches of hair. I wet his hair and what a surprise! I kid you not it was one of the nastiest smells of my entire life. For those of you who don't know, hair smells when wet and if you have dirty hair it's amplified a lot. It was foul. So at this point, I'm at arm's length fully leaning back as far as I can to keep away from the stink. I'm breathing sporadically to try and not gag. His hair was thick and coarse and greasy. Have you ever left lunch meat in the fridge for too long and look at it and it has a slime over it? That's what it was like touching his hair. So I make it through the cut and of course he's being difficult at the end, making me take it shorter and shorter until I got to a point where I think I used a guard and just buzzed his head. I clean him up and he stands up and the seat is just sweat-stained, like thick coated in booty sweat, but not like normal sweat it's sticky and glossy looking. So they leave and I tell my teacher I need some Lysol to wipe my station down, and at this point, I can feel the hair grease all over my body. I washed my hands and got a new cape and pretty much wanted to light myself on fire to feel clean. It sucked and I told them I'd never do that guy again even if they gave me a 0 for the cut. There were some nasty ones but that was the worst. [deleted]

High Maintenance

In cosmetology school, we used to do a program where homeless and shelter people could come in for free services. I thought the program was fantastic if they wanted a haircut, shave, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of these people would take advantage of it and get unnecessary services because they were free. One of my worst nightmares was a teenage boy whose mom made him come in for the afternoon to get 'whatever he wanted - so he got a haircut (ok), then he wanted a shave (also ok), then a manicure (meh kind of unnecessary), then a pedicure. Never thought this would be my nightmare. His feet were disgusting, I don't think his socks were washed in a month, and then he insisted we do a french polish on them. It was awful. Then he decided he wanted a facial and a back facial. OMG, I am going to die at this point. And I can't turn him down because that's the policy at the school. So this kid had the WORST acne in the world, and here I am just massaging his face (and then back) and it felt like crater town. And while giving the facial he kept his eyes open and was smiling the whole time while staring at me. It was the worst 4 hours of my entire life to deal with this kid. Then when his mom comes to pick him up - she actually said to me, oh you gave him a facial - you should have popped some of those pimples he had (uh no thank you!!). DranoDrinker

Worst Mom

One time a woman brought her 8 yr old daughter in to get her hair done. The mother's a witch but that little girl was the sweetest most polite little girl we've ever had. Unfortunately, it’s not just that the hair was a mess but her mom was disgusting. It's like the mom never took care of her hair! That poor little girl's hair was so dirty and tangled it took 3/4 people working on her hair for almost 3 hours to get it untangled and clean enough to run a brush through it. It was so 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 encouraging as possible because 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. leavingNYCtoday

Hair Knot

So this girl's 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 freaking weird. After a while, this girl acted like a child. She got into 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. For what it’s worth, 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 so she didn't want me to comb it out. killingALLTHETIME

Hair Extension

My hairdresser had a customer come in who wanted extensions. No problem, except they were going to be individually beaded. She wanted the beaded ones because she had such fine and thin hair and it wouldn't be as noticeable. So my hair stylist lets her know that she is going to have to come in, in a few weeks and get them taken care of again and that extensions, in general, need care. You can't just put them in and do nothing. You wash them, condition them, freaking take care of them. My hair stylist wasn't entirely comfortable doing this type of extension, any other yes but this she wasn't. She let her client know and her client still insisted. My hair stylist actually put up a contract and had her sign it. Mind you, putting in extensions she charges 100 an hour. So after about 6 hours, she again reminds her to schedule a time to come back to put them back in due to growing out. So a few months pass, and by a few, I mean like 6 months. She had to come back after 4 weeks. What we saw when she came by was a complete disaster. So she walks in and sits down and the image she presents is horrendous. She didn't take care of it at all. And I mean at all. The hair had matted together and mold had grown. It smelt so bad that my stylist couldn't even begin to work on it. Her mother had to pay another 600$ to get the hair taken out. Tacosandtrucks87

Is This a Head?

Back during my apprentice days, I was required to bring in models three times a week for classes. I had trouble finding people, so I turned to Craigslist. I found a very lovely woman who was available and needed the color service I had to check off, so she came in. She was mildly jaundiced, but the odor. Nobody else noticed it, but I could smell that sickly smell of a person whose body is shutting down. Like the smell of a convalescent home. I tried to be friendly, but the smell was so distracting I couldn't talk. She was so nice, and I felt like an jerk. Raviepooh

Lying Customer

My mom was a hairdresser for 20 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 is 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! 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. saltmother

Whole Transformation

My neighbor owns a hair salon and she makes bank from the carnival employees that come to town. Her location is like a block away, so all of them (carnies) will stop by almost daily for a week. The first day is the worst, but after that, it's not too bad. When they come to town no one else will wash/cut their hair. What I found out later, made my jaw drop. She said that it's one of the nasty things she's done in her life, some have bugs (not lice but actual bugs), and she found (what she thought) was mouse bones in one guy's hair. The guy told her that an owl recently threw up in his hair and that must have been where it came from (the guy had a big fro). So what she does, she buckles down and works the 12-16 hour shift while they are in town. Whenever one comes in, she immediately takes them to the back to wash their hair. She takes the time to get it to where her employees don't have to worry about anything at all. Then the carnies get their hair cut on the first day. The rest of the week they all come back daily for a wash/shampoo and tip incredibly nice. They told her that they normally don't receive this kind of treatment anywhere else and feel like a million bucks when they leave. zzddjj

Dirty Clothes Smell

When I was in cosmetology school there was this older lady who would come in once a week for a wash and style. Once a week, sometimes longer. One time she sat in my chair and this was during summer when it was around 90 degrees for 3 days straight. When I started to undo her braid I had to step back a bit and pretend that I forgot a comb so I could walk away from the stench that was radiating from her hair. Have you ever left clothes in the wash for too long and they get that musty smell that won't come out? Her hair was that but 10 times stronger. Then, she told me something that made everything clearer. Apparently, since it had been so hot and she didn't want to take her braid out, since her hair was super long, she just stood under the shower and then sort of patted it dry. She would only be charged $6 for the wash and style and when the school tried charging her an extra $3 she threw a fit and said she knew the school's owner. She didn't know the owner and when she was told that the owner didn't know who she was she looked so dumbfounded. [deleted]

Soggy Chicken Nuggets

So I've had my license for a little over 3 years and this was by far the worst thing I have ever had to deal with. I had a girl that was 14 years old. In my experience, this is usually about the age girls start to really take care of themselves and start to wear makeup and do their hair and all that but omg was this girl's hair disgusting. Her hair was past her waist and horse hair thick. I started to ask her what she wanted to do with it, but I swear to heaven her head smelled like soggy chicken nuggets. I get this girl to the sink and what I saw almost made me cry. The hair is matted underneath about two inches from the base and the grease in her hair is coming off in quarter-sized chunks. I washed this poor girl's hair 5 times with every clarifying treatment I had and it did nothing. Eventually, I gave up and just decided to try and style it. I couldn't brush it, I couldn't comb it. Another stylist and I were both going at it trying to undo the mess that had been made and there were still huge chunks of grease coming off. I decided to stop the whole thing and pull the mother aside who was with her. I tried to explain to her that she could not come back until she properly takes care of herself because what should have been a 45-minute wash cut, blow-dry and style, turned into three hours of whatever that was. She tried to come back one time and we said no unless her hygiene had changed and then she never came back again after that. It still grosses me out to this day. Bearlypawsable

Hair Mesh

I had a situation where a young lady sat down in my chair and was vigorously scratching at her head. Upon further investigation, I noticed something. I saw most of her hair was a hairpiece with a loose mesh holding it together. It had been far too long since it was sewn in and there was a lot of space under the mesh. A nauseating smell came from the sweat/oil secretions, product buildup, excess moisture, and bacteria that were forming under the mesh. The cause of the itching was quite apparent. I took her to the washbowl, brought the entire pump gallon jug of tea tree and peppermint shampoo over, and deeply scrubbed her scalp several times, getting under the mesh. I advised her to have it removed quickly. I have never been as disgusted with the smell of anyone's hair. yugogrl2000

Homeless’ Beard

Besides the many many children that would sit in my chair, infested with lice (and very negligent/oblivious parents), probably the grossest thing I've encountered was a homeless man's beard. There are many homeless in my city & where I previously worked, beard trims were only $5 (and haircuts under $15). So we often had homeless customers. This homeless man came in one day and wanted his 8-inch beard cut off. Like most of the homeless people I've encountered, He was absolutely insane, probably schizophrenic, so I began shaving fast, so as to not upset other customers (who were already a bit off-put by his very disheveled appearance). The first swipe revealed a nightmare, and I unveiled a thick crusty layer of dead skin and vomit, caked on his face. The smell was rancid. I reluctantly but quickly finished the service and sanitized my entire body and my tools twice, for good measure. One of many foul experiences in that particular barber shop. [deleted]