woman cutting her bangs in the mirror

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August 31, 2022 — 12:03 PM

Picture this: You and your partner broke up a few days ago, and as you go through the very typical stages of healing, you find yourself fixating on one thing and one thing only—a haircut

If you’ve been in this position, you should find peace knowing it’s not just you. In fact, it’s such a common emotional experience that it’s even taken on a distinct and very fitting name. That’s right, we’re talking about “breakup hair.”

The term “breakup hair” by no means has a set definition. It can be interpreted in a million different ways; however, most of the time it refers to the haircut or hairstyle change that someone may get (or do themselves) post-breakup. 

According to celebrity colorist Jenna Perry, the shift is more commonly related to cut than color. “You need to get the dead energy out, and with a really good chop, you can even feel lighter in spirit,” Perry says about post-breakup cuts. 

And for those who crave a longer look, extensions are one way to achieve just that. “I think changing your look gives you a new perspective on yourself,” Perry says. If it’s long hair you want, extensions can serve as an immediately gratifying shift while your hair grows out. 

While hair cuts may be the most common post-breakup shift, the brunette to blond transformation (or any other dye job) is another popular venture. Either way, Perry agrees hair might be the best thing to change given that it can grow back to normal with time. Or, you know, you can always dye it back.

Perry does caution her blond clients to take into account how long it may have taken them to reach their ideal bright shade and question if they truly want to cover up all of that time and money spent by dyeing their hair darker. That said, it’s important to figure out if you’re in it for the right reasons—here’s how to tell.

The psychological reason you want to change your hair post-breakup. 

Licensed psychotherapist Rachel Wright, M.A., LMFT, who specializes in sex and relationships, gives mbg an inside look into why this change is so tempting: “When we simply want to control a shift in something, especially when the rest of life feels out of control, our hair is something we have full autonomy over,” she says. 

What’s more, a hair transformation may be just what you need to kick-start your transition from being coupled up to standing on your own two feet, separate from a significant other. “We have much more of an emotional attachment to our hair than most people realize,” Wright explains. 

Lastly, a haircut is a fairly accessible change to make, Wright says. While some haircuts and color treatments are certainly more expensive than others, finding a haircut in your price range (or pulling a DIY trim) is something that many people can afford to do. Buying a whole new wardrobe, on the other hand, may not be so budget-friendly. 

So, is breakup hair a healthy way to deal?

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Generally speaking, breakup hair is a healthy way to transition out of a relationship and into a new era, so to speak. However, you should reflect on the why behind your hair transformation beforehand. 

“You have to ask yourself if you’re doing this for someone else,” Wright says. “Even if you are, are you also doing it for yourself? If it’s an ‘and,’ then it’s probably still within a healthy range,” she explains.

Here’s a quick example: If you’re tempted to get bangs post-breakup, ask yourself why. Do you like the look of bangs? Have you wanted them before the breakup and never followed through with them? If so, then go for it! However, if you’re not into the look of bangs but know that your ex-partner loved (or hated) them, then your intention may not be coming from a healthy place. 

And if you can’t or don’t want to change your hair for any reason, rest assured there are plenty of other ways to change your appearance and surroundings to feel fresh post-breakup (if you want to). You could change up your style, play around with different makeup looks, rearrange your furniture…you get the idea. 

If you’ve changed (or thought about changing) your haircut or color post-breakup, you’re certainly not alone. This common transformation can be a healthy way to exit one phase of your life and enter another. However, it’s important to be mindful of the why behind your decision. Regardless, a haircut likely won’t encourage a full emotional 180—so here are 12 other helpful healing tips from a psychotherapist.

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