why salons charge more for natural hair

stylist drying natural hair client using blow dryer and brush

“It 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?

Did you know many diseases and medical conditions will show symptoms in your hair in some way because our scalp is part of the integumentary system which is one of the last systems to receive nutrients?

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 their 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?

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.

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