I finally stood up for myself today. After years of sitting in the hairdresser’s chair too timid (or embarrassed) to admit I couldn’t really afford the cost of the additional services they were piling on, I finally said no. Enough.
It happened when I went to see a new hairdresser. They were a bit fancy but I looked online at the prices and decided I deserved a pamper. I booked in for 3/4 head of foils for $150 and knew I needed a cut which was $80 with a blow-dry. I didn’t care for the mid-week blow-dry but they locked that one in with the cut. So I was prepared for $230.
I sat in the chair and anyone who has changed hairdressers knows how the scenario typically unfolds. Hairdresser X shames your hair, shames your previous hapless hairdresser and then proceeds to imply that their hands are blessed by the gods and can rescue your forsaken locks… for a price. Thank god I made it my business to ask her the exact details of how much this hair-wizardry would set me back. $320 thank you very much.
First, there was pushing to opt for the more expensive balayage instead of foils. It was a weird conversation but she begrudgingly allowed me to have the service I was requesting for my hair. Then came the mention of paying for a toner. I did agree to this but it’s always annoyed me. Shouldn’t that be factored into the colouring service? We never used to pay for this lavish extra? Does a toner product and application really justify $50+ extra? Then there was the refusal to touch my hair if I didn’t have a treatment on top of my services, citing “the poor quality of my hair” that will all break and dramatically fall out if I go blonde. My hair has been dyed blonde for half of my life and I’m still not bald, if anything, it’s too thick.
I decided to stand up to all of the extras but she was not budging on the treatment. By this point, I really didn’t want to sit with this person for the next few hours anyway (how much time we spend at the hairdressers is another issue) and said let’s not worry about it today. Hilariously, it was suggested that I pay the full price of the services due to their cancellation policy. Hmm, would that be the cost of the services I requested or the ones you tried to enforce?
I left and said, “thanks anyway”. I smiled and was polite.
I was proud of myself today. For so long I’ve talked to women about the increasing price of hair services, especially in Sydney, and the uncomfortable feeling when services are added on as you sit in the chair wondering what the final tally will be. Hairdressers aren’t always pushy or demanding, this isn’t an attack on the profession as a whole. I’ve had very talented hairdressers who also appreciate what most people can afford and will stretch trims or treatments out between services to help with the cost. We can blame high rent and electricity for ever-increasing hair costs but my physio in a similar location has a lower hourly rate. The only reason these extra rates exist is that we as women accept them. Can you imagine men accepting the same? There is an opinion that mens barbers actually under-charge and some were barely making rent. And who else is embarrassed to tell their partners about the cost of their last salon visit?
Exquisite salons will always exist and people will pay for what they believe is a higher quality service. But I don’t think I was being cheap when prepared to pay $280 plus the extra charge for a toner. The refusal to budge on the treatment is the straw that broke this camel’s back and ultimately drove me out of the salon. I’ve had talented, understanding, realistic hairdressers in the past. We’ve parted ways when I have moved suburbs or they have left and I then again embark on the quest to find my next kindred hairdresser. But one thing I know not to accept from my next hairdresser is immediate upsells. From now on, I’m not believing or buying the hype.