You Know How Your Hair Looks the Best Right *Before* a Haircut? Here's Why

Sabotage, that's why.

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(Image credit: Getty, design by Katja Cho)

I'm no Lavoisier or Bill Nye, but I know a scientific phenomenon when I see one.

Four of seven Marie Claire editors have also experienced this anomaly, so as a "journalist" with the "scientific aptitude" of a random dude who builds vinegar-baking soda volcanoes on public-access television, I vowed to investigate by conjecturing wildly, then testing my hypotheses against those of people who actually know what they're talking about. Here's my part: 

  • From fear of their impending doom, the strands huddle together in solidarity, creating a uniform texture. The shininess comes from their tears and the sweat they produce hopelessly struggling to avoid dissection.
  • You take extra good care of your hair in the days leading up to your appointment because you don't want to be hair-shamed like "Do you use conditioner?" or "When was the last time you brushed?" More effort = better hair
  • It's psychosomatic. You're nervous about the cut, so you manifest your anxiety into really rad Rihanna mermaid hair, which defeats the purpose of said service.

I'll take my Nobel now, thanks. But not so fast, said my sources. Hair science expert Dr. Alan Bauman was like "What?" when I first asked him, but he did bring up the fascinating concept of hair dysmorphia. "How you perceive your hair is important but not always accurate, just like other parts of your body. For example, someone may have a strong yet inaccurate or 'dysmorphic' view of their body type (fat or thin) that is not based on the reality. I have patients who have avoided going to salons for fear of embarrassment, so fear can be powerful."

So can habit, said stylist Mia Silverio at Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa. "It could be possible that, by that time, you're used to styling it a certain way and therefore have gotten comfortable with that look. That's why I get the 'please only take a little off' requests. On the other hand, the client could have also just enjoyed their previous haircut, which means it's grown out nicely and that their stylist gave them a proper cut."

Ugh, fine. We can share the prize. But this bit's all me: Wait until your hair looks like absolute sh*t before booking a haircut. Then you'll never have second thoughts. 

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.