Why Professional Hairstylists Charge So Much

The price of professional salon services can be pretty steep, leaving many clients wondering why. After all, every hairdresser has the same type of license. Does that mean some stylists are using a magic potion or others are just under-charging? Here’s a look at what makes the difference between a $70 cut at a high-end salon and a $12 cheapie.

Time is Money

The truth is that there are all kinds of salons out there including chain salons, privately owned salons, and specialty salons. Each one of them has a mission statement they live by, and the stylists who work there have to follow the rules. And sometimes what a salon tells stylists to do is hurry!

The Type of Salon

Doing anything well takes more time and cutting or treating hair is no different. This matters because in cheaper salons, your stylist is given less time to provide any given service—allowing the salon to charge less.

Alternatively, salons that take pride in giving you the best hair you’ve ever had will allow stylists to spend more time for each service. The cost of professional color also gets more expensive, the more natural you want to appear. Slapping on some old-fashioned, chunky foils doesn’t take too long. But the natural look achieved by balayage just takes more time!

Remember that the more services you want, the higher quality results, or the more complicated your requests—the more your appointment will cost. However, splurging on a natural-looking color application up front means you don’t have to pay for touch ups as often since new growth blends better as your hair grows. Even covering gray can be less upkeep, as frequent touch ups include only the roots.

The Stylist

You can find a hard working stylist in any kind of salon, but in the end a stylist works based off of how their company is run.

At the first salon I worked in, the rule was from the time the client sits in your chair for a haircut to the time you check them out no more than 20 min can pass. So imagine what kind of a haircut you might get if you hair requires 45 minutes! This was a chain salon that clearly had a set rule for their employee to make sure they could charge only $18 for a haircut without styling.

But a stylist’s time isn’t just limited to when you’re in a chair. To learn how to give you looks that are up-to-date and beautifully blended, your stylist probably took extra classes on their own time. That additional education can be costly— even more so because most stylists have to fly to different states to attend instructional shows. All of those costs are reflected in how they price your hair service.

burgundy hair color on short hair

Also, when a stylist becomes better at what they do, they charge more for their expertise because their skills, and the time they’ve taken to perfect them, are more valuable. Just like you earn more income as you grow in your profession, the better a stylist gets, the more they will charge for their hard work.

Knowing What You Value

There are salons and hairdressers that charge differently. And if you are on a budget, you can most certainly find someone who fits within your range.

However, one of the most difficult things to hear for a stylist is that someone thinks they charge a lot. As a stylist, the first time you meet a client, you’re already hoping to earn their trust. If they’re worried about the price, it can be extra stressful to meet their expectations. Sometimes that means trying a really-hard-to-achieve color on the first shot, or others, educating them as to why something isn’t a good idea. Either way, we’re always hoping you’ll come back for a second visit, but concerns about cost raise red flags that a new client might not understand the time or money it takes to upkeep of what they’re asking for.

Bottom line, it’s okay to not be able to afford something!

But just because you can’t, doesn’t mean it costs too much. Instead, it just means it’s not within your price range. We all have things we pay for without questioning the price. For me, it's coffee! Even though I think a $5 latte is crazy but I still buy it because I love what that $5 latte does for my day—and I also know it’s going to be good.

The saddest thing I see is when people stress over having to spend an extra $20 on their hair service. Especially when that $20 can make a world of difference in your hair color! For instance, if I know someone's budget is $120 for color but the results really need a toner to look fantastic, I’m stuck leaving that final toner application out. In the end, saving $20 means we’re both unable to get the perfect result because more work costs more money.

Keeping Costs Low

If you want to keep your hair prices as low as possible, there are still some options: You can choose to go to a less expensive salon. Or you can find someone in the medium range and stick to one color or maybe a small foil.

You can also always ask your stylist for a color that you love, but for them to do it in a way that will be little maintenance to save you money in the long run.

Bargaining Isn’t Your Safest Bet

I've had people who bargained with me before and it always leaves me wondering just what are they planning to do with that extra $15 they saved and if it was really worth asking me to take less? I’d also rather book the clients who can afford my services and tend to give them the first available spot during busy times. 

At the end of the day, your hair should be something that makes you feel great! But before you start saving pictures of high-maintenance hairstyles, remember that most luxuries cost a little more as well (and in some cases much more) but the results speak for themselves.

Hope this gives you some insight on why there are differences in salon pricing! Thank you for reading and please share.

What's your opinion on salon prices?

Image credit: Hair by Julia Belzetsky

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