Coco Chanel once said « A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life. » Slightly-cheesy Pinterest quote aside, there’s actually a lot of merit to this saying. (In 2017, the sentiment reads a little more like ‘new hair, who dis?’) For a lot of people, that major change comes after the end of a relationship. Enter: the « breakup cut. »
The concept isn’t new (and it’s often stereotyped), but there is some scientific proof to it after all. « Hair is not only an aspect of your identity [and] self-expression, it’s one of the few things you can control quite easily, » Dr. Sanam Hafeez, clinical neuropsychologist and professor at Columbia University, tells Refinery29. « Changing your hair can be a big statement. It may mean you announcing something without announcing it or signify a metamorphosis. It’s an instant statement that may actually make you feel like a new person. »
« Breakup cuts » are so common, almost every hairstylist has helped execute one. « A haircut after a breakup is powerful, » Chase Kusero, hairstylist and co-founder of IGK, says. « People [often] keep their hair a certain way because of what a partner likes, or because it’s how they’ve always worn it. When you cut it and wear it how you want it, it’s empowering. » That being said, it’s important to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. « When you do a cut out of anger or revenge and that anger fades, you want to make sure you still like the cut! » Franck, hairstylist and fellow co-founder of IGK, adds.
Process your emotions, sit with the pain, cry, get a trim, but don’t make any drastic changes until it’s passed — and it will pass.
We know what you’re thinking now: Is this really healthy, or just a quick fix? « Shedding your hair may not equal out to shedding your problems, » Hafeez reminds us. « Process your emotions, sit with the pain, cry, get a trim, but don’t make any drastic changes until it’s passed — and it will pass. » Ahead, six women tell the real stories behind their « breakup cuts » — and how it ended up being the best decision they could have made.
The hair pros agree: « It’s good to give yourself time to process and reflect before taking action, » Jen Atkin, celebrity hairstylist and creator of Ouai Haircare, tells R29. « Yes, cutting your hair is a rush, so I can see why getting a great cut after a breakup can be exciting, but it doesn’t mean it has to be done in a rush. » Her rule: If you still want the cut after a week, then do it. « It’s an opportunity to reinvent yourself, so take your time deciding who you want to be next, » she adds, « Then get rid of those bad feelings and move on!”