Most of us know precisely what we pay for rent and electricity every month, and when we need to post those checks. But do you know much you plunk down every year on your hairstyle?
There’s the cost of your haircut. And then there’s the cost of upkeeping your haircut, a “between the lines” expense to consider when considering a change. And that’s not even including the cost of highlights or color. How do different styles measure up monetarily? Here’s what you can expect to pay annually to maintain five popular looks.
Pixies and Bobs: About $1,000 a Year
You might think that having less hair means less maintenance. But shorter cuts can actually call for more maintenance than longer styles, says Axhere Prapaniku of the Jeffrey Stein Salon, which has four locations in New York City.
If you have your heart set on a pixie cut or a bob, it will need to be shaped every four to six weeks, with shorter bobs and other close-clipped styles requiring the most frequent salon visits.
“A lot depends on how the hair falls,” says Axhere. “Some people’s hair grows faster than others,” she observes, and maintenance will also depend on how your hair takes the shape of the cut — and whether you take notice when your hair begins to veer below the jaw line.
Depending on your hair’s thickness, you could pay $65 to $85 per cut.
Highlights: Between $136 - $660 a Year Depending on the Color
Like short cuts, opting for color also tends to require a lot of upkeep, says Clip Shop stylist Kelly Conant, who has seen hair color evolve significantly during her 30 years with the shop. Similarly, women’s interest in changing their hair color has also increased. “Now, it’s like everybody colors,” says Kelly. The latest trend? Adding subtle pinks and purples to blonde hair, or blues or greens to dark hair, for a “stone-washed” look.
Of course, most women opt for more mainstream colors. But the shade you choose can have a big affect on how often you need to visit the salon. A brunette might get away with highlighting twice a year but keeping up a blonde look is a very high maintenance proposition, says the stylist — requiring salon visits every month or two, and every six to eight weeks if blonde highlights are also desired. Brunettes can get away with highlighting less frequently.
As for the price: A cellophanes treatment, which refers to translucent color over your own color may start as low as $68, while highlighting with foils typically starts at $110 in salons in New York and other metropolitan areas. (That’s minus a cut and blow-dry, which add to the tab.)
Long and Lush: Around $360 a Year
Back in the sixties, the rock musical “Hair” paid tribute to tresses worn “shoulder length or longer.” If that’s how you roll, you might be able to go two to three months before going in for a shaping.
Clearly, most of us can use a flat iron or curling iron to keep our hair looking chic a little longer between visits. When their hair is long enough, many of Axhere’s clients put their hair up in a ponytail to disguise the shape a little longer and get a little more time out of their cut.
At Jeffrey Stein, long hair that’s very thick and curly will cost a bit more to clip, with fees ranging from $75 to $90 for a stylist who’s used to working with hair of this sort. That can be pretty typical of higher end salons in major metropolitan areas.
But like the Clip Shop, in Pittsfield, Mass., many salons do not distinguish between fine and thick hair or long and short hair when pricing their cuts, so it can pay to shop around. At Joseph Michael’s Salon and Spa in Chicago, for instance, the price of the cut depends largely on the stylist and his or her experience level, observes Joseph Michael stylist Angela Petersen.
Here, she says, “Haircuts are the same price no matter what the hair length, texture or density, and whether [the cut] takes an hour or a half an hour to work on.”
Permanent Straightening Treatment: Around $1,000 a Year
Black women generally spend more time and money on their hair than other women, particularly if they straighten it regularly, notes Nya Bowman, a former Martha Graham dancer who is also a dance instructor, and a New York City tour guide. If she hasn’t invested in a chemical straightener or Keratin treatment, Bowman says, “Washing and blowing out my hair is a lot of work.”
Generally, she says, having a permanent straightening treatment requires a root touch up every eight weeks to three months, and that can cost $50 to $100 a treatment depending on the salon. Bowman often travels internationally, but when she is in New York her salon of choice is the Dominican-owned Dolores Beauty Salon in Manhattan’s East Village. Here, Bowman says, a relaxing permanent costs her just $60, and if she opts for a Keratin treatment she expects to pay $130 versus as much as $200 or more at other big-city salons.
But permanent straightening is pricey for everyone. The Clip Joint charges $82 and up for African-American hair straightening or $275 for a Keratin smoothing treatment on most medium-length hair, whatever the texture.
Now that Bowman has a natural ‘do without straighteners, she visits Dolores for a professional wash and blow-dry every week, for which she pays about $35 (a steal in New York City).
Bangs Maintenance: $200 - $400 a year
Short, straight-across bangs are high maintenance in that they need to be trimmed every two weeks, says Axhere of New York’s Jeffrey Stein. They work best as a fall and winter look, she advises, since colder temperatures and lower humidity will not only help your bangs to fall better but also tend to feel more comfortable when it’s cooler.
Jeffrey Stein charges from $10 to $15 to do a bangs trim, whereas The Clip Shop will shape your bangs for an eminently reasonable $8.
Side-swept bangs, on the other hand, require less upkeep, and can be trimmed every two to six weeks depending on how short you want to go with them, advises Axhere.