New research reveals the average woman spends £40,000 over her lifetime on her crowning glory. But does what you spend really make much of a difference? Here, Sadie Nicholas asks five women how much they pay for one visit to the salon.
I have never seen the point of spending vast amounts on haircuts.
It has always seemed like a frivolous thing to do when that money could be spent on time with my friends and family.
So, every six weeks, I do it myself. I tip my head upside down over the bathroom bin, brush my hair forward and fasten it into a ponytail. Then, I take a pair of Ikea kitchen scissors and snip a couple of inches off the ends. I chop into the remaining ponytail to do away with any telltale blunt edges — and voila!
Four minutes is all it takes and, though my method sounds terribly haphazard, it’s served me well for six years, ever since I discovered it online in a video tutorial.
Far from looking ‘homemade’, people frequently compliment me on my stylish locks — not suspecting in the least that I have done it all myself.
It’s saved me a fortune on hair salon bills. I’d far rather pocket the £60 and spend it on doing something memorable with the people I love.
Last month, for example, I went to Barcelona with friends and then took my son, father and aunt to Rome for Dad’s birthday.
In my 20s and 30s, I flitted from one hairdresser to the next in search of a stylist who would do something other than chop it into long layers and charge me £25 to look no different than I did when I arrived. But in the end, I gave up, realising that, actually, I could do a better job myself.
I used to cut my son’s hair, too — until I saw his first school photo when he was five and realised I was doing him no favours at all and he’d benefit from going to a boys’ barber instead. I can only do my own hair, it seems.
I can’t help but see women who spend a fortune on hair as shallow — and more than a little wasteful.
Surely there can’t be many women who pay less for a haircut than their other half? But at £10 a trim, mine comes in cheaper than the £12 Neil pays for his short back and sides.
It’s all thanks to my mobile hairdresser, Lynne, who’s been cutting my hair at home since I was two, after meeting my mum at an aerobics class.
Her prices only reached double figures a few years ago and, in 33 years, I have ‘cheated’ on her just twice at High Street salons. The first time, I was tempted in a moment of weakness by the promise of a squishy chair and a range of glossy magazines; the second, I walked in off the street on a whim to have my hair put up for my brother’s wedding.
Riddled with guilt afterwards (she, of course, knew instantly the next time she cut my hair), I vowed never to let anyone else’s scissors touch my locks again. The idea of leaving her is unbearable.
Now in her early 50s, Lynne was a young woman when she started cutting my hair.
I vividly remember her getting married and even setting her first baby down in a car seat next to me in Mum’s kitchen one day while she got out her scissors.
Countless times I’ve sat before her and said: ‘I don’t care what you do, just please, do something different!’ because I trust her so much. Now, she even cuts my daughters’ hair, too — £15 all-in for the three of us.
I’m sticking with her for life.
Many women stop colouring their hair in pregnancy as they become nervous about suggestions the chemicals may get into their bloodstream. But I couldn’t go that far.
I felt that maintaining my highlights was essential to my sense of self-esteem at what was an otherwise vulnerable time.
My body expanded and I could no longer wear the feminine dresses or fitted clothes I love. But at least I still had some control over my naturally fine, mid-brown hair. Having vowed not to let myself go, I continued to have it cut and highlighted blonde every three months.
I don’t feel any guilt about spending the money; on the contrary, I believe it’s important for a woman to look after herself.
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Yes, up to £100 is expensive for a hair appointment — but you can’t put a price on self-confidence.
Like most men, my husband pays about £20 for a haircut and is perplexed by the prices I fork out. When I emerge from the salon thinking I look well-coiffed, his standard comment is: ‘It doesn’t look that different — and why have you been in there for three hours?’
What he doesn’t understand is that it’s become a little oasis of calm to savour, and all the more important to me since having a baby. It revitalises me as much as it does my hair.
That alone is worth the price.
Nothing beats leaving a salon with my long hair freshly cut, coloured and blow dried. Knowing my locks look swishy, shiny and groomed makes me walk a few inches taller.
Though £200 is a lot of money to spend on my hair every 12 weeks, I consider it a treat for working hard day and night.
Thick and unruly, my hair has a mind of its own and needs daily straightening at home. I’ve had some laughable hairdos over the years, including short styles in my teens that made my head look like a mushroom.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been having a three-quarter-head of highlights at each appointment to see off the grey hair that first appeared at the young age of 25.
Although I have been loyal to a salon in Wimbledon for the past year, I endured a few disastrous hair appointments before a friend recommended it to me.
There was one stylist who hacked my hair so badly when I’d asked him to thin it out ‘a little’ that, even now, two years on, if I lift up the longer top layers, there are short tufts underneath.
On another occasion, with hair like straw after two weeks in the Mediterranean sun, I booked in for a cut and colour. An astonishing five hours later, I was still in the chair. I joked that the stylist would have to charge me rent if he kept me there much longer.
At £200 per appointment, I’m already paying the top end of what I think is reasonable for a haircut. People who pay much more must be out of their minds.
Some may call me vain for spending £500 per hair salon appointment, but I see my hair as an investment. In my pressurised City job, it’s essential to look the part — so my hair has to look groomed and expensive.
My appearance is intrinsically linked to my confidence and plays an important role in how I present myself in the boardroom.
However, a year ago, my hair resembled sun-parched straw — a legacy of having blonde highlights for the previous 20 years.
Even though I have it cut and coloured religiously every six to eight weeks in a salon, occasionally paying as much as £300 a time, the healthy, shiny, bouncing locks I aspired to eluded me.
There were times I turned down after-work drinks with friends because my hair looked unkempt, and I considered missing a black-tie dinner because my hair had flopped and frizzed within minutes of leaving the house.
I was seriously contemplating wearing a wig when, a year ago, a friend recommended I visit Vixen and Blush salon in London for subtle hair extensions instead.
Initially, I baulked at the idea, convinced they would make me look brash, fake and too ‘done’.
But I was desperate, so booked a visit. Five hours and £500 later (£405 for the extensions and £95 for a half-head of highlights), it was a revelation to see my scraggy hair had been transformed into healthy-looking tresses.
Full of body, my new do is thicker, shinier and just a few inches longer than my real hair. I can curl it, wash it, put it up — and it behaves exactly as I want it to.
Now, I enjoy stepping out of the front door with my hair on show, instead of wishing I could hide it under a hat. And, for the first time, I get compliments about it — friends often ask what the secret is to my healthy hair.
So, while £500 may seem a lot, I see it as an essential investment, rather than a luxury. I only wish I’d had it done sooner.
a hairdresser so, when I was growing up, we lived above the salon. She was for ever whipping out her scissors to give me a trim over the bathroom or kitchen sink.
She used to chopped my dirty blonde hair really short, yet I dreamed of one day growing it long like a princess.
Aged 17, I fled Mum’s scissors in search of a salon experience. She gave me a piece of advice, which I have heeded ever since: always dress up when you go for a hair appointment — it shows you’re serious about your appearance.
Fast forward 25 years, and I now pay around £1,000 a time at a salon in London’s Fitzrovia. I go every four months, and an appointment lasts up to four hours.
It’s a jaw-dropping amount of money, but my stylist, Inanch, is one of the most coveted in the world. Her celebrity clients include actress Mischa Barton, model Abbey Clancy and Strictly Come Dancing’s Ola Jordan.
Some women think nothing of spending £1,000 on designer shoes or a handbag — but my hair is my luxury of choice. Women in the know can tell I spend a lot: the even curls at the bottom and the subtle way the dye warms up my skin are telltales it’s expensive and that I look after myself.
Hairdressing has come a long way since I was a little girl and, although my mum is now in her 60s and retired, she also loves my extensions.
She still goes to her own hair stylist every few weeks for a cut and blow dry — and always wears her finest clothes.
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