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 higher end salons to up their game in order 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 charges $100 or more for a haircut without providing you with an expert level of customer service, from the online booking and confirmation emails/texts to the central, urban location and assistants to feed your parking meter when needed. There’s generally a receptionist greeting you with all the latest magazines and five complimentary beverage choices to the decor of the salon, which usually reads modern and sophisticated. On top of this, you should also notice that each hairdresser takes great pride in her appearance. There will be makeup applied, hair styled and fashionable clothes on each hairdresser – a really good thing because you’re trusting them to use their best judgement to alter your appearance. 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 would 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 in order to give my superior an idea of what was to be expected in her next appointment. I was a little embarrassed by the whole ritual at the time, but now, the necessary five to ten minutes I spend planning with each client before her service has been something that’s set me apart. Not only does it introduce me to a new client and give me a solid road map for where we both want to go with her hair, but it also lets my returning clients know that I still value their opinion and I’m always interested in listening to what they want. I’ve had my hair cut at many places which only charge $30-$40 for a haircut and because of the need for higher volume due to the lower pricing, I’ve noticed that in the need for speed, the consultation is the first thing to go out the window. And 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.
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. And 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. Your hairdresser should not speak during this time unless you are starting a conversation with her and by the end of five minutes leaning back in that big chair, you should feel like falling asleep. 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. I’ve seen it time and time again where I’ve had a client come in late, rushed and rattling off about how bad their day is going and I just greet them with a hug, massage their scalp while I’m doing my initial assessment, and then spend the next five minutes quietly massaging in their shampoo and conditioner. Their breathing slows down, tensions melt away and before long, my client is speaking slowly, calmly and like she doesn’t have a care in the world. And that’s exactly how you should begin every single service with your hairdresser. 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 and how it makes bangs impossible or just how much texture you have in your hair and learning how to work with it. 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 kind of “splurging” by visiting me in my chair are women who are used to less expensive haircuts and they have surprisingly simple concerns, which 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’ve made it a routine so that I never forget to get through the super important elements of my customer service. I always blowdry the hair in a style that my client has decided she wants and explain what she needs to recreate it at home. I also finish with a hairspray or shine spray or whichever product my client prefers and ask her how she likes everything and if there are any changes we should make. Then I walk her up to the reception desk, personally book her next appointment after deciding on a day that works for her, show her the products and tools I used on her in case she wants to take any home or has more questions and then I give her a hug goodbye and send her on her way! I feel that it is part of my duty to finish out my service this way because it shows that I care about the outcome and whether my client is happy. I want a visit to me to feel like visiting your most gracious hostess of a girlfriend at her home, so walking my clients out and making sure they have everything they need is all a part of that. And any salon that values your comfort should do the same.
If you find yourself wanting this kind of an experience, but lacking the necessary funds, don’t say no completely to 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 (which is usually around $20-$40 and will give your hair smoothness, shine and reparation) or a basic blowout (which usually runs around $35-$65 and lasts about three days).
Another tip is if you wear your hair longer and don’t require a lot of shaping and texturizing in between haircuts, stretch out your haircuts a bit longer and allow a more expensive hairdresser to help you maintain the length. By going to someone who knows how to take off only what’s necessary and give you layers that will grow out very nicely over time, you’ll actually do yourself a favor in allowing for more time in between and a more minimal increase in your hair budget. Plus, you’ll get the advantage of spending an hour each time with a glass of chardonnay and the latest cover of Vogue in hand.
Gigglers, what have your experiences been at different salon types? Do you believe you get what you pay for? Let me know in the comments!
Featured Image Via Clane Gessel Photography