Although most of us may agree that hair is a haircut, many salons continue to define haircuts as “women’s” or “men’s”. Why? More specifically: Beyond gender language, why do women’s haircuts cost more than men? While the answer is subtle, it is rooted in training in stylists and social conditioning. But this is a reflection of old thinking – and the opportunity for change.
Gender-neutral saloons and non-binary cuts Do Existing, “If you go to most salon websites, they still refer to the reduction by gender,” says Tommy Bucket, a well-known hairdresser at the Mary Robinson Salon, who considers the discriminatory label a trickle-down effect. “We are more conscious and sensitive about gender fluidity, but there is still a long way to go. Why do we still have men’s and women’s department stores in department stores?”
Some argue that the reasons for the reduction of prices in terms of gender are not necessarily malicious but are the product of another era. “There’s a lot of history to this debate,” says Tatum Neal, artistic director of the Aveda Arts & Sciences Institute. “It wasn’t a matter of going into the salon as a male until the ’90s. Men were going to barbershops. There were just different service expectations and there was no blow-drying.”
Yet, even though saloons now offer the same services for all genders, why the price difference?
“To be honest, no one has ever answered me why we always have gender haircuts in the professional beauty industry.”
“If you ask me, patriarchy has everything to do with charging women, and there is no justification for it,” says Christine Rankin, founder of the Drescode Project, which calls for more realistic, authentic representation with Pantene. LGBTQ + community in marketing and advertising. “To be honest, no one has ever answered me why we’ve always had a haircut in the professional beauty industry. The only thing I know is that we learn that there is a cut of men and women in a cosmetology school.”
The answer may be in gender Training. “There are two license tracks in New York,” says Buckett. There is a barber license and a cosmetology license – and the first one takes less time than the second. “For barbershop, you’re learning with clippers and little scissors. For cosmetics, you’re also learning about color, relaxation, etc.” The underlying (and outdated) assumption that “male” haircuts imply less hair for a woman’s hair can be blamed.
Fortunately, there has been some improvement in the training of stylists in some salons, which can affect haircut prices. In fact, during his talk with POPSUGAR, Neal was in the midst of preparing a curriculum for a class called “Fluid Shapes,” who will be teaching at the Aveda Arts & Sciences Institute in Austin, TX this fall. “We’re not talking about gender – we’re talking about strategy and timing.”
Time seems to be, in part, a factor in solving the gender-haircut price problem. “Some of my long haircuts are done in 10 minutes, but some of my shorter haircuts take longer to dabble and shape,” says Buckett.
This leads to the idea of charging through time increases: “I charge for half an hour in a salon,” says Adam Reid, founder of London’s Adam Reid Salon and Archive Headcare. Reed’s price structure is only influenced by the level of the stylist performing the cut. For example, a half-hour period with an experienced stylist can cost a bit more with newcomers. Many other stylists have begun to adopt this method. “If a woman wants to make a buzz cut from clippers, I charge less than a man who has long layers and wants a blow dry,” says Nunjio Saviano of New York City’s Nunjio Saviano Salon. “It’s just a matter of time.”
The same can be said in the dress code project. “We talk about haircuts and price them in time or length,” says Rankin. “So we can say a short, medium or long haircut, or we can say a 45-, 60- or 90-minute haircut because it makes sense.”
As is so often the case, awareness is important. “Sometimes, unless someone brings it to you, change doesn’t happen,” says Neal. “I would like to say that this is not harmful in many ways. Salons always do this, and unless someone educates the owner about it, they don’t think to remove gender norms from their menu.” Especially in more remote areas, with less dense populations, there is a chance that salon owners may not know any difference.
Fortunately, today’s young adults have surpassed many salon owners in understanding gender. But until everyone evolves, consider requesting your salon owner to remove discriminatory labels from their service offerings.
“When you get two men in front of each other – not on social media but face to face – and they talk about these issues, I believe they want to do the right thing,” says Neal.