DEAR ABBY: I met my best friend, "Chanelle," a hairstylist, 20 years ago when she worked in a beauty salon and I was a walk-in client. We hit it off immediately. She has been doing my hair ever since, and I have referred clients to her over the years.
About 10 years ago, Chanelle began working full-time in her family's business, but continued hairstyling on the side -- first in a salon, now from her home. Over the past three years, I have become increasingly unhappy with her haircuts and color. I expressed it to Chanelle, but she didn't really respond. (Example: I want red hair, but when I asked for more red, she made it darker and darker. Now it looks auburn in daylight.)
I was recently out of town and took the opportunity to make an appointment at a well-known salon. The stylist there informed me that no one has had a hairstyle like mine in 10 years. She also gave me the color I had been trying to get from Chanelle for the last three years. I had her write down the formula and gave it to Chanelle when I got home.
I recently went for a cut and color, expecting that Chanelle would use the formula I had given her. Instead, she informed me that she had thrown it away because she is a "colorist" and can match colors on sight. Needless to say, the color is not what I wanted. When I told her that, she told me the lighting in her home is different and that it would look right outside. I called her again from home to say it didn't. All she said was it would fade over time.
I made an appointment at a salon today to get the color I want. Obviously, I don't want to go back to Chanelle. She hasn't taken a class in 10 years, and she has been shining me on. How do I tell her without ruining our friendship? I should add that she was hypercritical of the cut I got on my trip, which is actually the best haircut I've had in three years. -- BAD HAIR DECADE
DEAR BAD HAIR DECADE: The question isn't whether you are being a "bad friend" by patronizing another hairstylist. It's whether Chanelle has been insensitive to you and your needs. Tell her you love her, but you have decided it's time to update your look so she won't be seeing you "professionally" for a while -- but "how about dinner and a movie next Friday?"
Believe me, it won't be the first time a hairdresser (or former hairdresser) has heard it. It goes with the territory. If she's really your friend, she'll understand.