How Much Should You Spend on a Haircut?

I pay $200 for someone to cut my hair. There, I said it. 

Before you make a beeline for the comment field to tell me why this is a huge waste of money, let me explain why I feel it is money well-spent. First, looking good makes me feel more confident. Yes, yes, of course, I should get my confidence from my intelligence and skills. But that’s not the first thing most people experience when they meet me. I’m selling my acumen, sure, but I’m also selling a first impression. 

Study after study shows that better-looking people are more successful in business. When my hair is tamed, I’m much more likely to introduce myself to a stranger at that business mixer or, even, make that cold call. Even though someone can’t see me as I’m on the phone, if I’m dressed well, hair and makeup done, I present myself better. So my $200 haircut is actually an investment in my earning power.

But you’re likely thinking, Why does it have to be so expensive? For most people, especially those of the shiny, straight locks, it probably doesn’t need to be, honestly. But my hair has special needs. It’s bolt-straight in the front and a mishmash of frizz and curl in the back. Imagine ‘70s Cher mixed with Carrot Top, change the color to blonde, and you have a pretty good image of the tapestry of my head. And it’s thick. I’ve been told more than once that I have enough hair for two people. 

These two facts boil down to two realities.

One, it takes much more than 20 minutes to cut my hair. That’s the time allotted by the salons I’ve spent most of my life throwing money at in the always-dashed hope that this time, I’ll meet the stylist who can tame my mane. By chance several years ago a master stylist at a fancy salon staged an intervention with me. I had only gone in for a blowout but when he saw the state of my uneven layers and frizz, he asked me to let him give me a dry haircut. It’s just what it sounds like–the hair is washed and blown straight before it’s cut. When hair is dry it’s easier to see its bulk and texture, which allowed the stylist to not so much cut my hair as sculpt it–a process that takes at least an hour with each cut. 

Second, what people can charge for a haircut is generally indicative of their skill level. The truth is, most stylists haven’t been taught how to properly deal with curly or wavy hair. They cut it, blow it out straight, and I leave the salon looking fabulous only to transform into a blonde Roseanne Roseannadanna after the first wash. Poof! 

I expect my clients to pay a premium for my work because I have more skill and experience than many writers out there. So why not do that for someone who cuts hair? The higher-than-average rate has been earned over a long career of continuing education and passion for the craft. A part of me is glad to support someone who cares about being the best at what he does.

Also, a great haircut will last longer than a bad one. I used to need a cut every six weeks; now I can go three months. And, it saves me time. Back in the day, I spent 20 minutes every morning trying to turn my curly hair straight. Now, I wash it, add a drop of product, and let it air dry. If I’m feeling extra fancy I’ll diffuse it for five minutes. Either way, my hair looks great with very little time or effort.

It took me a long time to feel okay about the $200. But what really convinced me was my husband, who has heard me complain about so many haircuts. If it makes you feel good, he said, isn’t that a good enough reason to splurge on yourself? Everyone should find the one thing that will make them feel better about themselves and commit to it, whether it’s the gym membership or the dye job or the French lingerie. Because the truth is – I, and we, are worth it.

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Don’t Let Them See You Sweat 

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