Nearly every job where a person works with the public has horrifying moments happen, the ones where you realize you absolutely screwed up, and not only is the customer/client going to be mad, but they’re going to be totally justified in their anger, besides.
That said, not every job is giving someone a haircut they’re going to have to live with, for better or for worse, for the foreseeable future.
So, you can see why these 17 barbers probably had to live with their hearts in their throats for a good long while after these incidents occurred.
17. Way too many people, based on this thread.
My coworker at a salon was cutting a girls hair and found lice – the girls mom had left her for the trim and she had to wait for her mom in the lobby. We spent the next hour or so frantically cleaning around all of the other clients and stylists to sanitize the whole place top to bottom.
When the mom came back and asked her why she didn’t have her hair cut, she replied “they found out”.
WHO BRINGS THEIR LICE RIDDEN CHILD TO THE SALON?!
16. Eh, it was just the tip.
While I was training at a pretty chic salon in London, there was a kid who came in for a cut with his mum. She was a regular, the typical biweekly blow dry client that was always dressed in the finest fineries and sent her kid to private school. He sat down in my colleague’s chair and the mum gave a fairly detailed and particular instruction of a short back and sides as if my colleague had never heard of a hair cut before. She then sat down in the waiting area and picked up a magazine and began reading. This kid was a little s**t. He squirmed and complained the entire time. My colleague, bless her, was very diplomatic, and tried to be firm, but fair to this kid (she was very experienced at this point, and dealt with a fair share of spoilt kids).
Towards the end of the cut, she very clearly told the boy to stay still as she was cutting the stray hairs around his ears. She told him that her scissors had just been sharpened and would hurt a lot if she cut him. He agreed to keep his head still. However – as previously stated – this boy was a little s**t. He suddenly turned his head to something and she caught the top of his ear. Now, she wasn’t lying about getting her scissors sharpened, and those things are hella sharp when they are. I will never forget the top bit of his ear just resting on the blades of her scissors and her wide-eyed pale expression of realization of what had happened. I don’t know if you’ve ever cut an ear, but those things bleed.
At this point, the mother put down her magazine, put her thunder-face on, and stormed over to my colleague’s section with the screaming and bleeding child in it. Wordless, she raised her arm with an open hand, and slapped the kid straight in the face. “That’ll teach you for not listening!” The whole salon was in complete shock. She pulled him up by the arm, and dragged him out of the salon without a word to anyone else. We never saw them again. Absolutely, the most mental experience of working in a salon. That, and the crazy color change I had to do, but that is a story for another time.
15. Communication is key.
Oh jeez. I’ve been barbering for 7 years and I’ve got a couple stories. Mostly communication errors. I had a client come in with a super tight haircut (looked like it had just been cut) and asked for a “zero on the sides.” I’m not sure what this guy was on, but a zero is bald to me. So I start my bald line for my fade and he freaks out that it’s way too short and I ruined his haircut. Since this never happens to me I got super upset and felt absolutely terrible.
I’ve had clients who text me and ask for an appointment and then I forget to book it, then they show up and I’m busy and they don’t have an appointment. (I always comp them because I feel terrible) I used to work in a low income neighborhood and worked at a black barbershop.
I was cutting a kids hair and since it was so curly you couldn’t see his scalp or anything. Started cutting into it and sure enough, he had ringworm. I have hella stories but those are just the ones that come to mind.
14. Good thing he was chill.
I was in school still at the time and was cutting this guy’s hair, he brought his girlfriend along and she was watching like a HAWK over me. I’m halfway through the cut and almost done with the fade when the person next to me has their trolley too close to me so I go to move it but I didn’t pay attention that my other hand had the clipper still running with no guard on.
I made a nasty line through the fade that didn’t look intentional at all and was sweating my a** off on how I was gonna fix this.
The girlfriend of course points it out and the client is actually super chill about it and has me basically just run a super high 0.5 on the sides and back. 3 years later and to this day I haven’t had an incident that bad.
13. That needs to be in a movie.
Brother of a barber who used to be a hair model? back when I used to have a good head of hair. His instructor told a story during one of the shows about a mobster falling asleep during a shave. While shaving him, he accidentally cut off a mole.
He said he kept on putting towels on him and then snuck across the street and hid in a bar watching through the window until the mobster left.
Since he was only renting the chair in the shop he grabbed all his stuff and found another place to work after he was sure the mobster was gone.
12. That’ll cost you one free haircut.
Barber here. I’m pretty experienced and a successful barber with my own place but I definitely made some mistakes along the way. This story still makes me die inside a little.
When I was training, maybe a few months in so I had a bit of confidence, enough for me to not realize I still didn’t know what I was doing, i was cutting this guys hair and I got to his fringe. He wanted it really short and I was standing in front of him cutting along his forehead whilst chatting away. I took my scissors away to comb his hair but like, flicked them(??) around my fingers and they swung round and hit the guy right in the f*cking iris.
I froze. He froze. Eventually i asked “did I just hit you in the eye by the way?” He said “I think so”. Trying to act like it wasn’t sore for some reason. It eventually blew up in the shop once his shock wore off and someone else got him out the door. Found out a month later his wife was a nurse and she used some kind of eye drop and his eye was only scratched.
Thank god because I thought I blinded him. I gave him a free haircut next time. Just the one though.
11. It only takes one mistake.
My mom was cutting my hair when I was younger (around second grade). She was only using the razor at one point (without the thing that makes it a certain length) towards the end.
A piece of hair fell on my nose and made me sneeze, my head moved, and I ended up with a bald spot. I ended up having to get shaved completely bald to “fix” it and she refused to give haircuts after that except for one time during covid.
10. That last one, though.
Started combing a guy’s hair to get ready to cut it. Shifted the comb over the left side of his head and the hair did not move the way it was supposed to. I pulled the comb down again and realized the dude did not have a left ear. Didn’t say anything about it. Gave him a cut that still worked with it and he left happy.
Had a blind man come in once who said that this haircut was his first stop after getting out of a 25 year prison sentence for murdering his wife. Gave his name and everything. We looked him up and he did indeed murder his wife who was also blind.
During barber school I was the most eager to learn to straight razor shave of all the customers, so the instructor gave me all the hardest shaves, including an 80 year old dude whose skin was so loose and unhealthy that each time I pulled the blade over his flesh, it brought up just as much dead skin as it did hair. I wasn’t cutting him or anything, he just had that much dead skin just chillin’ on his face every other week.
Had a mom bring in her son, about 8 years old, with beautiful long hair. Told me to shave it all off as short as we could go, which is a big red flag. Being still in school, I missed the warning signs and buzzed up the back of his head in time to see a bug as long as my thumb nail scurry back into where the hair was long. I inspected more closely and found several bugs of similar size. My instructor chewed out the mother very harshly.
9. Hey, Hallmark…
Not a barber but my cousin worked in a salon when I was a kid and I would hang out there a lot after school.
One day she cut a guy’s head pretty bad with the clippers.
Lots of blood but it wasn’t too serious.
This led to them dating and eventually getting married.
8. They’ve hurt people.
Beauty school. This tweaker dude and his hippie girlfriend come in for $7 haircuts. Immediately, something seemed off about the girlfriend; she seemed a little not “all there” and was cross-eyed and had dreads poking out of her hippie hat. The appointments were a bit staggered, so I finished the guy’s 1-all-over buzzcut, and my classmate calls me over to “help” with hers. When she took off the girl’s hat, her hair was completely matted and filthy, and beneath the matted hair were stinking, suppurating sores COVERING her scalp. When we combed at the hair, her scalp would begin to give and split away wetly. We called over an instructor who tried to explain that we couldn’t service someone who was literally oozing. She didn’t seem to understand and they left without paying. I’ll never forget that smell.
Also beauty school; when bang trims go poorly. If you cut even slightly too high and a cowlick in the front goes “boing!” and springs the hair right up off the face. There’s literally no coming back from a bad bang trim. To be fair, if it was that important, she shouldn’t have been having students doing it. This also applies to colors. Local teenage girls would come in expecting a full head of highlights and then be shocked and angry when it goes poorly and takes forever and there’s huge lines near the root. Arguments between 17 year old clients and 19 year old jailbird beauty school girls were really common.
Lice. I’ve had three run-ins with lice on kids in my 8 years of cutting hair. You just have to stop cutting immediately, discretely send them back to their parents, and spend the next hour cleaning and feeling crawly. “Discovering” something like lice is like the classic “oh s**t” moment in haircutting
Years ago, I was working at a shop in SF’s Tenderloin. I was standing near the window looking absentmindedly outside. This drugged-out woman on the corner decides that I was looking AT her, so she shambles into the shop right up to the station and starts threatening me, inches from my face. I become acutely aware that my razors and shears are sitting in plain view on the counter next to us, and that I have to get them into my possession and away from her before she can use them against me. I decided that if I’d have to stab a crackhead in self defense, I’d use my trusty 8-inchers. Before it gets to that, my coworkers intervene and begin corralling her outside. At the doorway she starts swinging, punches one coworker in the face and bites the other on the chest. Cops showed up pretty quick and arrested her about a block away. I spent another year at that shop constantly looking over my shoulder, certain that she’d one day reappear.
Once had a dude pass out after a haircut. Based on what he told me, he had some sort of sensory issues, and the combination of heat, the neck strip, clipper buzzing and noise of the shop overwhelmed him. If you’ve ever dealt with a person fainting, you know what an “oh s**t” moment it is; one minute dude is standing up and looking a little worried, next he is crumpling to the floor. I’m a little guy, but I was able to sort of “catch” him and ease him down without anyone getting hurt. It was pretty scary, my first thought was that I somehow killed him.
And my personal worst story: I was cutting one of my regular’s hair, and he always insisted on scissor-over-comb instead of clippers on the side, which is fine and kind of my thing anyhow. I was working in the lower right corner of his nape moving upwards with my big a** 8″ inch dry-cutting scissors, and he sorta twisted toward me to say something at the precise moment my shears closed, causing me to close the pivot of my shears right onto the flesh atop of his ear. It wasn’t like a little common nick, I felt my tools puncture living flesh. The whole top chunk was like hanging off and bleeding profusely. My coworkers said I looked pale and panicked, and I still don’t know how I did it, but I managed to get the ear chunk back in place with surgical glue and staunch the bleeding with talcum power. The craziest part is he kept coming to see me, insisted on paying full price plus tip, and continued coming back up until he moved away a year later. About 5 years later, not a day goes by at work where I don’t think about the sickening sensation of metal on flesh, and I’m happy to say nobody has been hurt since.
7. Bless his heart.
One girl had never cut a white guy’s hair and her teacher asked if i was ok with it. I said sure she has to learn some how and its just hair it can be shaved and should grow back. Told her how i wanted the hair cut, pretty simple a little short and off the ears. Jokingly said do not take my ears off.
Long story short i left with a bald head and a band-aid on the top of my left ear, after bleeding like a stuck pig due to blood thinners!! where she nicked me with the scissors. Even her teacher couldnt save the hair cut. I did my best to try and help the girl calm down as she was ugly crying!!
Went back a month later and asked if the girl was there, thankfully she was and i simply smiled and said tound two…she did it perfect second time around.
6. That kid will sit still for the rest of his life.
I work at a small shop and there is a family who comes in mom, boy and daughter. So about 2/3 years ago the son probably 11 at the time was booked with me first thing Saturday morning. Chill kid but he used to move a lot while getting his hair cut.. until that Saturday morning when I snipped his ear pretty good.
It wasn’t hanging off but ears bleed a lot when snipped. The family still comes to the shop, I haven’t cut the sons hair since- totally fine with me. I have noticed that he sits much better for my coworkers.
5. They don’t get paid that much.
Licensed cosmetologist here!
During my very first mens haircut when I was in school I accidentally cut this guy’s skin tag off. I was absolutely horrified but he was super nice about it and was genuinely stoked he only had to pay 5 dollars + a tip to get it removed! That’s the only real “oh sh%t” moment that’s been my fault that I can think of. I’ve had plenty, if not too many “what the f*ck” moments though.
I’ve had people:
-sh%t and piss
-come in with c*m/sh%t/mold/blood and other fun fluids in their hair
-be high or drunk out of their minds
-get violent with me
-s*xually harass/assault me
And more in my chair.
Please be nice to the person who does your hair; we go through too much to make y’all look nice.
4. Tell your barber the truth.
Did you know that some hair dye chemicals don’t play well together?
Turns out the lady had used some sort of home hair dye chemical that basically has tiny bits of metal in it. She didn’t mention.
My mom goes to dye her hair and puts the professional dye on it… and the hair more or less starts melting as the dye reacts.
Her hair was totally ruined, there was no saving it. Only thing to do was to just get the new dye off as fast as possible. She was pretty understanding about the whole situation though.
3. He still cuts his own hair, though.
I’m not a licensed barber or professional by any means, but I have been cutting my own hair for about 10 years. I’m really good at it, save a lot of time and money, know exactly how to do it, and never have to worry about getting something I don’t like, anymore.
BUT, it has taken a lot of trial and error over the years. Especially when I was learning how to fade.
This was 3 years ago. I start cutting like I normally do and start fading my sides. At the top on my head the guard pops off, huge chunk falls down my face. So me, still learning, not knowing how to fix it, decides it’s best to just buzz it. Which I’ve really only had to do 3 times in my “career.”
I look dumb with a buzzed head, so for some unknown reason, I also decide to shave my beard, thinking maybe it’ll equal it all out. NOPE. Apologies if this offends anyone, but I look like I’m receiving chemo at this point. Bro I look like a thumb. Big toe looking a**.
So I hated myself, my wife still makes fun of me to this day, I got endless sh%t from my family, and was attached to a hat for like 2 months.
This was the moment that made me never f*ck up again.
2. That’s a fun, if unexpected, twist.
Also a stylist, but this reminds me of a story from one of my instructors. Lady comes into the school and wants highlights I think? Or it might’ve been a color remover actually now that I’m really thinking of it. Box color black, wants to be lighter is the short of it I suppose.
Now this particular instructor has been teaching for like, 20+ years and she insists on doing a strand test. They take a bit of hair, put the color remover on it in a foil.
And it starts smoking. Like immediately.
They open the foil and the hair is WHITE in like a minute, but also fried beyond repair. Chemical reactions are wild.
1. Sometimes hiding is the only option.
Been a professional barber for 2 years now. I like to tell my clients this story all the time but it is the first time writing it so bear with me
When I was in barber school I had a mother and her son come in to get a haircut for her son. They did not speak English very well so there was a bit of a language barrier. She told me she wanted a 2 on top which is very short, 1/4 inch left to be exact, and the little boy had close to 3 inches on top so I figured they did not understand the lengths. I did try to explain to her that the 2 would be very short by showing her the guard but she insisted he got a 2 on top.
Being the dumb a** I was I started my clipper down the middle of the kids head. I remember hearing the clipper take off a bunch of hair and the child knew something was wrong and starting screaming. “Oh s**t! The mother came over and scolded me for taking it too short. She told me that she meant she wanted 2 inches left not a number 2 guard. I apologized like 5 times and told them that I would at least make the buzz cut look good and get them a free haircut next time.
As I was finishing up the kids hair, literally on the last pass with my clippers, by an act of god or something the guard I was using popped off and I went straight to skin down the middle of the top of this poor child’s head. “OH SH**TT” I put my hand over the bald patch on this kids head and just pretended that nothing had happened.
Thankfully one of my instructors came by and i was able to flag him down for some assistance. I took my hand off the kids head and my instructor starting chucking and told me to go in the back and get some water while he sorts this out. He ended up getting in a big fight with the mother because she thought I did it on purpose for yelling at me earlier but it was and accidentally and she did come to a school and pay $5 for a student haircut.
I was holding my breath through some of these – they could have gone so much worse, honestly.
If you cut hair for a living, share your ‘oh crap!’ story with us in the comments!