Why Salons Charge More for Natural Hair?

stylist drying natural hair client using blow dryer and brush

Its so expensive to get my natural hair done at a Salon!” This is a statement that I hear a lot about on social media. As a Natural Hair Stylist, Natural Hair Blogger, and Licensed Cosmetologist I have seen all sides of this statement and from a Professional standpoint I want to share a “behind the chair” explanation on the topic of “why salons charge more for natural hair”.

Why Should I Pay for Something I Can Do at Home?

If you’re doing the same moisture treatments, using professional grade products (not ones you buy at Target), examining your scalp and follicles, ensuring your hair is at the correct pH level, using proper tension and partings, applying the correct amount of product to prevent build up and tangling, detangling your hair without a handful coming out, and attaining the DESIRED result that last; yes you should just do you hair at home but if you’re not doing these fundamental aspects of hair care you NEED to see a Professional.

A Professional will provide professional grade products, understand how the products work and how they work for each hair texture, advise you on the health of your hair and scalp, recommend products for at-home care and inbetween salon visits, thoroughly clean and sanitize their tools, and uplift your mind all while making your look as beautiful outside as you are inside!

You Get What You Pay For!

Sure a “Kitchen Beautician” or person that saw it on YouTube and is now a “Natural Hair Stylist” will only charge a few bucks to do a Twist-Out or Marley Twists but think about what it’s costing you.

Do you know when or even IF they cleaned the combs, brushes or clips that’s going in your head? If the last client had lice eggs would they know how to identify them and disinfect PROPERLY so they’re not spread to you? If they cut themselves opening that pack of braiding hair did they properly clean up the blood and prevent contamination to you or did you possibly just contract Hepatitis B sitting in their chair?! Oh yeah, their chair, did they disinfect that after each client? These are just basic Sanitation practices.

Now, let’s talk about the products they’re using, which you probably use too. If you’re “Natural Hair Stylist” is using products that anyone can get access too sure their costs will be lower. And I’m not knocking some brands of consumer products because they’re actually pretty good but at the very least the “Natural Hair Stylist” should understand how they work and the pH and/or chemical reactions between them. If they’re just using this conditioner because YouTuber XYZ said it was good, and this leave-in because “it looks like it made XYZs hair smooth on her latest video” you’re obviously not paying for a Stylist that has invested in education. And if they’re not expanding their knowledge on hair care chances are it’s not their full-time job or passion so naturally they’re not going to include the cost of living in the price they charge you.

A professional will charge you accordingly. The factors that go into cost of a service are not just pulled out of thin air because “natural hair is more demanding or labor intensive”, the factors include:

  • Time. A Professional Hair Stylist will make an hourly wage (just like you do at your job) to compensate them for time away from their family, often at times that are convenient to you, and to pay for living expenses (like the phone to answer your calls, texts, and emails; transportation to get to the Salon for your appointment, food to ensure they have energy to take care of your hair, listen to you and complete your service in a timely manner).
  • Products. Professional products are expensive. Even readily accessible quality consumer products are expensive. To ensure your hair remains healthy or to revitalize the condition of your hair professional products are necessary. And from a Professional Stylist standpoint, professional products come with training to understand their synergy. A label on the back of bottle won’t explain how to use the products for each hair type; education does.
  • Training / Education. Obtaining a Cosmetology license is hardwork, 1500 hours (in some states more) of science, practice, and basic hair care knowledge. But it doesn’t stop there, with so many different textures, curl patterns, haircuts, styling techniques, color placements, braiding styles and fashion trends a Professional must constantly seek education.
  • Sanitation. Can you imagine going to the Hairdressers and leaving with HIV, or Hepatitis or Lice?! It happens, every day because of poor sanitation or not sanitizing the tools and surfaces of a workarea. A licensed Professional is drilled on Sanitation and should use proper sanitation with cleaning equipment that also costs money. Sanitation should be performed for each client and so the cost to ensure your health and safety is also built into the cost of service.
  • Maintenance. You want the Salon environment to look, feel and smell nice and be clean when you arrive for your experience, right? Well that doesn’t just happen it takes constant upkeep, passion and, you guessed it, money.

The next time you think about going to a Salon Professional and the thought of “your prices are too high” crosses your mind, stop and think about what’s important to you: Do you want a clean, nicely maintained, and relaxing environment or do you want to dip your head in the tub with laundry laying in the floor? Do you want professional products that will enrich your hair and make your styles last longer or the “whatever was cheapest, I hope this works” products? Do you want someone that is passionate about the health and length retention of your hair or someone that just wants to make some coins to go buy that new outfit on sale? Do you want clean tools or last week’s shed dandruff in your hair?

**Ends Rant** 

Share your thoughts or experiences with Natural Hair Salons below or on Twitter #NuGrowthChat! 

You can read the article that sparked this debate on KlassyKinks.com, “How Hair Salons Can Win Back Their Natural Hair Clientele“.

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Jocelyn Reneé

Jocelyn Reneé is a Licensed Cosmetologist, Loctician and Textured Hair Educator. She was born and raised in the Washington DC area and is a graduate of the Aveda Institute Cosmetology Science program. With over 14 years in the Hair Care Industry, from Salon Assistant to Natural Hair Blogger to Professional; Jocelyn is passionate about cultivating healthy hair.

Blog Comments

You are absolutely right. The quality of products are a must for natural hair to be healthy. The products on the shelf contain mostly whatever the first ingredient is on the bottle. USUALLY, that’s “water” which you already have at home. So why pay them for bottled water. Invest in your hair and buy products that contain ingredients with nutrients just like you do when you buy your food. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.

I totally agree! Products and ingredients matter, for your hair, skin, and food that we eat!

Braiding was just DEREGULATED in Texas and I am LIVID. I started a petition opposing the bill with the main focus being safety and sanitation. It’s more than just a “BRAID”

That’s CRAZY!! Especially after Practitioners have gone to jail for fighting for the right not to have a license to braid. I truly believe proper sanitation is the most important aspect of being a Professional and protecting the safety of the people being serviced.

So you want the government to regulate when ever a person does their hair…are you serious?

Yes there should be regulation whenever someone has another person’s life in their hands. You can literally die in a Hair Salon or Nail Salon from contracting an infection (bacterial or viral) if the place is not properly sanitized and what will ensure that the Professionals meets those guidelines if it is not regulated?!

I think that it should not be a crime. I think if you want to obtain a license (be regulated)………do it. If you are not licensed (not regulated), That is something you have to let your clients know. Sort of like posting your license where everyone can see….or not see. Braiders don’t necessarily need to be cosmetologists. I have seen enough licensed cosmetologists pull out edges….almost as much as braiding shops. The government won’t tell us if meat is cloned in the billion dollar meat industry but they sure care about that young lady braiding your hair. I am a big girl, just let me know you are “only a braider” not a licensed cosmetologist and I can make my mind up. Braiders are not hiding, they are telling you up front….and we know it is not regulated. Many many many years…..people sat on the front step and had cookie from down the street spend Saturday braiding hair for church and school next week. Many mothers sent their babies down to her with a few dollars to be next….I haven’t noticed the pandemic of people dying. Don’t knock the hustle. Stand proud and know that there are those people who will only go to a licensed cosmetologist. Those are for you. Personally, I think each person makes their choice!! Licensed professionals have caused infections too……and they know better. To each beautiful life and brain…..its own decision. We have a choice. Stand proud behind your profession and training. You are appreciated.

lm natural has been for 8 years….now I’m looking for info to get my hair growing in length……plz help

Invest in quality products and do low manipulation hairstyles to see length retention.

i do understand that your hair need all of this to grow but just can’t afford it I have been natural for five years and I have never went to a salon

Good for you….there is no need to go to a salon…it’s natural hair!

[…] On the difference between paying a professional hairstylist and using a kitchen beautician… read the rest here: […]

[…] On the difference between paying a professional hairstylist and using a kitchen beautician… read the rest here: […]

[…] On the difference between paying a professional hairstylist and using a kitchen beautician… read the rest here: […]

Im comparing the prices for all the other services in the salon..ive been natural for over 15 yrs. ..I recently moved to atlanta and just to wash/condition and twist is more tha. Other relaxed appt. Id hope the salon would treat each appt the same no matter what, however less time that a simple twist.. should not be more than some other services..real talk

The issue is that in Cosmetology School we’re not taught “naturally textured hair care”, instead we learn on straight hair or chemically straighten the hair so to gain knowledge to properly style and maintain textured hair we have to seek additional training which increases the cost of service — at least in my opinion.

Good article on professional hair salon expectations, but these skills and expectations should be for every salon and stylist, not just for natural hair salons and stylists. Article still does not help me to understand why I should pay more to get my natural hair done.

Thank you! As it pertains to natural hair— the issue is that in Cosmetology School we’re not taught “naturally textured hair care”, instead we learn on straight hair or chemically straighten the hair so to gain knowledge to properly style and maintain textured hair we have to seek additional training which increases the cost of service — at least in my opinion. Also, the cost, hourly rate, is usually higher for textured hair because the service requires more time, much like you’d like to be compensated if you worked overtime.

I have to say that I love my stylist! I am blessed to be able to afford her. I have no complaints……(here it comes). BUT. No ladies, I am sorry. This is based on supply and demand (like most other things). So, is the shop that charges $600 instead of $1000 for sisterlocks dirtier, or did the trainers SL consultant spend less time in her SL training course? Oh wait…. Maybe her SL startelock shampoo cost twice as much as the other shops. Supply and demand. Two shops, same location, same cost of living, same cleanliness, same education level…..different prices. It is based on what the customer has shown they are willing to pay. Business owners know what they can charge and what people are willing to pay. If I may twist a phrase from a very very wise sister a little. Ladies, there was lots of natural hair……long before the term natural hair stylist ever existed. Find a stylist that you trust and who charges what your pockets can afford….or be a DIYer. There are numerous sites (like this one that we all love) that will provide you education and knowledge. Far too many women without my income have healthy natural hair. Many stylists are equally educated but cheaper than mine. I just like my stylist!!! Do your homework, make sure your stylist is up to par and handles their business and I wish you all happy healthy hair!!!

So, so true! Thank you so much for your comment and kind words. The economics of supply and demand, definitely come into play in the hair care/ beauty industry!

This post just made me rethink about the pricing for natural hair services. Often I would tell myself that they’re doing what I do at home, when they’re doing a lot more than what I do. Lol. Thanks for this post! It’s actually bookmarked in my browser. Lol.


Thank you for bookmarking and I am glad this post was able to shed light on the factors that go into pricing services, its important that we support each other and entrepreneurship through small business behind the chair.

I have seen people joke and laugh about those who are trained to do sisterlocks because we have to go to classes. They don’t understand that we are learning more than just how to do a loc. We learn about sanitation. We learn about problems to look for and how to correct them. We learn about issues and problems with a person’s scalp and when it is okay to go ahead and loc them or to send them to their doctor and refuse to loc them. I’m glad I took the class. It was one reason I decided to go with sisterlocks when I got locd. This isn’t about doing your own hair. Anyone can do their own hair regardless of the law but taking on someone as a customer you owe them a certain level of service and competency. If a person is a cosmeotologist they have been trained. Since I wasn’t I felt I needed training. I was right. The first day in class all my fears about what I didn’t know were realized. Of course I can only do one thing and that is the way it should be because I’ve only been trained to do one thing. I don’t have the training or competence of a cosmeotolgist and I’m not going to pretend that I do. The person who does my hair and encouraged me to take the class is a cosmeotologist and I refer clients to her when they need something out of my zone of competence. I don’t want anyone messing up my hair and I don’t want to mess up anyone else’s. People will get what they pay for.

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