Is there really a difference between a cheap $40 haircut and a pricey $160 haircut? For example, in New York, there are three price points that are common for haircuts for men and women.
The $40 Haircut
The $40 haircut can easily be a great or bad experience compared to other more expensive haircuts. Of course, this depends on the hairstylist and the client's expectations. You can easily find someone who has raw talent at this price and understands what you want, to a point. What you won't get? Don't expect a full-service salon with a variety of products and glamorous surroundings.
Most salons that offer the $40 haircut don't have the financial resources to send every stylist to classes to continue their salon education. They may send the stylist that has been with them the longest and as a result, that stylist may be the busiest person in the salon.
Although you may be getting your haircut at a reasonable price, your stylist is probably not going to be well-versed in the latest cutting methods, tools, and hairstyles. At the end of the day, it really depends on the client's expectations and the level of service they are accustomed to receiving. Some people are easier to please than others and some may want more of a salon experience.
The $60 Haircut
Depending on your budget, you may think $60 is expensive. And yes, there are talented hairstylists at this price point. Everyone has to start somewhere, right?
One of the biggest challenges with the $60 haircut is the amount of time spent on your hair. Most salons at this price point are booking half hour to 45-minute appointments. The salon can't afford to give up a chair for much longer so the stylists are trained to work fast. Even the work of a very talented stylist suffers from such time constraints. The haircut is rushed and the stylist does not have ample time for cross-checking and dry cutting, which is when the real transformation happens.
The other challenge with haircuts at the $60 price point is that salons can't afford to pay for very much education and training for their stylists. Consequently, the stylists are forced to pay for their own training. This lack of education typically means your stylist is probably not keeping up with hair trends and the latest styling techniques.
The $160 Haircut
While we all know expensive is not always better, no salon in Manhattan would be bold enough to charge this amount and give bad haircuts. What we do know is a great haircut actually lasts longer, which is great news in a recession.
Any decent salon in this price point knows that to keep up with the latest in this competitive city, their stylists must be well trained in the latest techniques and styling trends. Most stylists in salons at this price point are encouraged to travel all over the world for education with companies like Vidal Sassoon Academy or Mahogany.
Most stylists in this price point will take the time to sit with you before each cut and discuss the look you are trying to achieve and will have the skill set to make recommendations on the various looks that will be best suited to your facial structure. They will also discuss with you how they envision the process unfolding to arrive at the end result.
You can expect your hair to be washed before with a relaxing head massage and after your cut, as a bonus, professional hair care and styling products are used and sold in these salons.
Antonio Gonzales is a former hairstylist at Eva Scrivo NY and the Orl'o Salon in New York City.