Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
High-end salons often get a bad rap for being snooty, over-the-top, and full of overconfident hairdressers whose work really isn’t that much better than someone at a lower price point. While that can be true in a few cases, you’re actually paying for top-of-the-line service in more expensive salons, I promise!
Customers have access to so much knowledge about a hair salon before ever booking a service these days, forcing high-end salons to up their game to continue attracting new customers and justifying their high prices. They’ve had to not only produce great work, but they’ve had to go above and beyond and create an experience for everyone that steps through their doors. And, if you can afford it, that experience is totally worth the $100 or more you’ll spend for it.
What I’m not suggesting is going into debt or living beyond your means just to get a great haircut. Nor am I suggesting that only hairdressers that charge good money are good at their craft — or, that only salons with valet and silk robes are the way to go. But, I am strongly saying that there’s a huge reason why those who can afford to have a bigger budget for their hair needs willingly spend that money. And, from my time behind the chair in a variety of different salon types, I can tell you the barrier to entry is so much greater in a higher end salon and the mandatory class time and training are so steep that your chances of getting a skilled hairdresser working on you are pretty high, and it’s an investment worth making.
The Atmosphere: No hairdresser should charge $100 or more for a haircut without providing you with an expert level of customer service. There’s generally a receptionist greeting you with all the latest magazines and complimentary beverage choices to the decor of the salon, which usually reads modern and sophisticated. Salons that charge higher prices tend to ooze luxury and pampering and they take great pride in being able to give you an experience that you can’t get anywhere else. And, I don’t know about you, but I'd love to feel like a queen every 6-8 weeks!
The Consultation: When I was an assistant, part of my job was to greet my master hairstylist’s clients and perform a consultation with them to give my superior an idea of what was to be expected in her next appointment. I’ve had my hair cut at many places which only charge $30 for a haircut. And, because of the need for higher volume due to the lower pricing, I’ve noticed that the consultation is the first thing to go out the window. But, when your hairdresser doesn’t even ask what you want, how can you expect to receive something you’ll be happy with? I’d rather go with someone who takes their time and knows exactly what I love and hate about my hair.
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Shampoo: Without a doubt, every salon that charges good money for any treatment should give you a relaxing (and quiet!) five-minute shampoo service. To that point, the water should be at a desirable temperature, your neck should be cushioned and the shampoo should be scrubbed in and the conditioner massaged in from the ends up. As a hairdresser, I’m a big believer that when a client comes to me and I begin running my hands through their hair, I could be transferring my energy to them. That’s why I always try to stay calm, collected, and with an attitude of thankfulness when I’m at work so that I transfer only positive things. After all, it’s not just a beauty service, it’s a date with your therapist!The Precision Work: When you go to a hairdresser with lots of experience and training under their belt, you are going to someone who has the ability to fix those pesky little things you hate about your hair: the way it flips out in that one section when you curl it forward, that cowlick you have at the front of your hairline, or just how your texture makes it difficult to work with. In any of these scenarios, a hairdresser who charges top dollar should be able use their finishing skills and knowledge about styling to fix your problems.
Most of the women who are “splurging” by visiting me in my chair are women who are used to less expensive haircuts. Oftentimes, they have surprisingly simple concerns that can be addressed by working with a stylist who really knows her stuff and takes the time to work through those concerns with you.
The Finishing: I finish every single client the same way every time: I blow dry the hair in a style that my client has decided she wants and explain what she needs to recreate it at home. After all, there's no point in spending major funds on your haircut if you can't achieve the look at home.
If you find yourself wanting this kind of an experience, but lacking the necessary funds, don’t completely reject the idea. Most hair salons offer other less expensive services that you can take advantage of without having to dish out major dollars. Try a deep conditioning treatment or a basic blowout, which usually runs around $50 and lasts about three days.
What have your experiences been at different salon types? Do you believe you get what you pay for? Let us know in the comments!