Photography by Ryan Emberley

Why Do We Head to the Hairdresser After a Breakup?

Last month I found myself in a two-week “thing” with a guy. The whirlwind romance ended as quickly as it begun, and I wanted to both literally and figuratively wash it off, hop back into the dating pool, and start anew.

So I did what I’ve always done—I made an appointment with hair god Tony Pham, owner of LAC + CO, one of Toronto’s top luxury hair salons. I sat in the salon, sipping a ginger honey tea (so soothing), chatting with Pham about why I was there: a break up with someone I wasn’t even going out with! Make me white-blonde! Chop off my long locks! He looked at me straight-faced. “No,” he said.

According to Pham, that’s something many clients request when they come in for a post-breakup transformation. “I have to be very honest with my clients,” says Pham. “They’re wearing my name. I have to make sure that whatever I do, it has to suit the client and her lifestyle, and still maintain beautiful, healthy hair.”

Breakup hair is a thing that many us have fallen victim to, including celebs. Most recently, Katy Perry chopped off her shoulder-length locks into a pixie cut and dyed her hair platinum blonde, after announcing her amicable split with Orlando Bloom. She documented this transformation in a vid on her Instagram, with the caption “I WASN’T READY UNTIL NOW,” while sitting in a salon chair with her Hollywood hairstylist, Chris McMillan.

“It’s incredibly important to find yourself and find your own kind of ‘sexy’ after a breakup,” said Pham. “When clients are in similar situations, often I just listen. I don’t say much, but I make sure to provide a hair makeover that truly represents them. It doesn’t always have to be drastic. I help them rediscover that inner beauty and confidence once again.”

So why do we change our hair as soon as we go through a breakup? I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it’s empowering, it gives us a sense of control, and allows us to feel beautiful even though our heart hurts and we’re so goddamn emotionally drained. It’s a fresh start, a way to move forward. We’re doing what we want, as opposed to complying with our ex’s physical preferences. It affects our confidence for the better, and gives us a much-needed therapy session to boot. I’ve always said that walking into my hair salon is like walking into a confessional.

After consulting with Pham and his team (who walked me off the post-break up dramatic hair change ledge), I decided to get baby blonde highlights, a California blonde tone job, a conditioning treatment and a minor trim to remove my split ends. I went this route instead of the white-blonde look I originally requested, because I know I feel my most sexy, confident and playful self with a fresh blonde tone and long, just-tousled hair. When my hair looks healthier and brighter on the outside, it makes me feel healthier and brighter on the inside. I’ve learned over the years that the better I feel, the healthier types of people I attract. This simple hair swap put me back in a great place.

I left LAC + CO in a completely different state than when I entered. I felt pampered, understood and off to a fresh start, with a literal weight off my shoulders.

And I told Pham as much. He gave me a ‘no shit’ look. “Hair is definitely the first thing a client should focus on, as it is the easiest to update. You can shift a person’s energy completely by changing the hair length, colour or just adding a few curls.”

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