“Hairdressing in general hasn’t been given the kudos it deserves. It’s not recognized by enough people as a worthy craft.”
– Vidal Sassoon

I believe what Vidal Sassoon said is true. In general, hairdressing, as a craft, doesn’t seem to get the respect it deserves.

My sister and I grew up around salons, hair has always been a part of our lives. Our mother is a Hair Stylist and between aunts, uncles and cousins there are or have been 10-11 in our family.

Growing up, I remember flattening out end papers, sorting out rollers/perm rods and sweeping the floors of the salon for my mother. We both love the sound of a hair dryer – it’s soothing and comforting to us. In fact, all the smells and sounds of a salon are familiar to us.

So when I hear comments or read articles that dismiss the craft or downplay the degree of talent and skill it takes to be a Hair Stylist, I can’t help but take it personally. Some of the people I respect the most in my life are Stylists – so this post is for them.

Mommy, Daddy-Wedding

To have a successful career – Stylists need to have a combination of technical, creative and social skills. They need to be constantly educating themselves on all the new and emerging techniques and latest products. They also need to know how to market themselves. This means constantly being on top of all the beauty and fashion trends. Our Mother was always meticulous about her appearance – her hair, skin and makeup always looked perfect. She loved the cat eye – she even did her own makeup for her wedding.

Think about it. Hair Stylists are really a unique breed, people depend on their profession for some of the most important milestones of their lives – proms, weddings and any other special event or life milestone. The relationships they have with their clients becomes personal – they get to know about their family, friends, careers and looked to for advice not only with their hair but personal matters.

“Every major event is someone’s life parallels an appointment with their hair stylists.”
– Sam Burns

So as the daughter, niece, cousin and friend of many Stylists, I would like to offer my opinion on some popular misconceptions about the industry and profession.

Misconception #1: Salons charge too much money for their services.

I love coffee. Good coffee. That’s why I am willing to pay more for it. If I have the option to choose between instant and freshly brewed. I’ll choose the latter. In 2012 the total annual revenue for the Starbucks Company was reported to be $13.29 billion. You can pay upwards to $5.00-$8.00 for a cup of specialty coffee. If you do this two times a week – you are spending $520.00-$832.00 on coffee per year.

Coffee is great but the gratification is temporary. When you go to the salon – although the end result doesn’t last forever – depending on what you get done – it can last for several weeks or a few months.

Let’s look at some typical expenses for a salon owner: Licensing, insurance, rent, utilities, hair cutting tools, styling tools, back bar supplies, decor, renovations, refreshments, Wi-Fi, website costs, advertising, marketing, software maintenance and upgrades, taxes – I could go on but I’ll stop here. Let’s look at some other factors. Every year Stylists gain more experience, talent and skill –  their education levels can increase as well. Just like any other sector – you have to pay for quality, skill and talent.

Even though my mother is a Hair Stylist – I have gone to salons for services, usually for makeup and updos. Sometimes I wasn’t happy with the outcome but that was my own fault. I didn’t do my research. Now that I finally have somewhere I can go – I have no problem paying for the service. I value the skill and time of the Stylist, plus I have no desire to attempt it myself and the end result is always worth it.

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
– Warren Buffett

In the end everyone goes into business to make money and we all want to be paid for our skill and expertise. We can all agree on that. Now if you take this all into consideration – what you get charged at your salon should not seem unjustified or unreasonable.

A note on kids haircuts. I read some articles that suggested charging more than $15.00 – $20.00 for a child’s haircut is crazy. I don’t have children, but I have a niece and nephew and a very large Italian family. I have trouble sometimes getting my niece and nephew to sit long enough at the dinner table to finish a meal. I cannot imagine trying to get them to sit still for a haircut. Most kids have a tendency to constantly fidget, because they have so much energy. This can only make a child’s haircut take longer – especially if they have a challenging hair line or cowlick.

Misconception #2: You can do whatever they do at a salon at home.

When I do get compliments, it’s usually about my lips or hair. The lips I can’t take credit for – I just got lucky with my gene pool. The hair – my mother (along with all the hair products I use) is responsible for that.

Stylists are trained, licensed professionals. Algonquin College’s Hair Stylist Ontario College Diploma, 2 year program, prepares students with the knowledge, skills and techniques to be a Hair Stylist. They are required to complete 2,000 hours of in-salon apprenticeship. Once the in-school and in-salon components have been completed, graduates are eligible to write the provincial exam certification.

Hairdressing is an occupation that dates back thousands of years – to the 1600’s. Hair Stylists have had a longstanding impact on history defining eras with influential styles: Marcel Grateau with the Marcel wave, Vidal Sassoon with the bob cut, Allen Edwards and the Farrah Fawcett flip and the Twiggy by Leonard Lewis and Daniel Galvin.

Before I wrote this post I read a lot of “How to Dye Your Hair at Home” articles. Most of them claimed that coloring your hair at home is cheaper and more convenient. Oddly enough the majority of the magazine articles included a footnote about when to “leave it to the Pros” leading me to believe that whoever wrote the article really didn’t 100% believe in the concept.  

One DIY hair color article I read was 4 pages long – they called the process a ‘project.’ The article used a picture of Drew Barrymore taken on the red carpet – she had ombré hair. This is completely misleading. Why? She most definitely didn’t do her own color at home in her bathroom. Her longtime Stylist is Giannandrea and he doesn’t use boxed color.

They also included a list of additional items you would have to purchase, because they don’t come in most color box kits. It also advised enlisting the help of a friend. So now you have two people who don’t know what they are doing – chemically treating your hair. So is this really cheaper and more convenient? Doesn’t sound like it. Also if it doesn’t turn out or your hair gets ruined – you might be down a friend too.

There are many celebrities that endorse boxed hair color. But do they actually use them? All you have to do is Google the celebrity name and the words “Hair Stylist” to find out the truth. Gwen Stefani – Hair Stylist: Danilo; Jennifer Lopez – Hair Stylist: Oribe; Beyonce – Hair Stylist: Kim Kimble; Eva Longoria – Hair Stylist: Ken Paves.

Misconception #3: There is no difference between drugstore and salon hair products – they just want to sell you products.

When you go to the dentist office for a check up – the Dental Hygenist tells you to floss and brush your teeth in between visits. Why? To maintain the health of your teeth. It will also help prevent problems and make future appointments less painful.

I honestly believe that when a Stylist does your hair, they give you a little piece of themselves. They want you to look good and feel good. So when they do make a point of recommending a product to you – they do it because they want to maintain the health of your specific hair type.

“When a woman walks in a room her hair stylist walks with her.”
– Kevin Givens

The difference between salon hair products and drugstore hair products is quality. Although they contain many of the same ingredients – they don’t have them at the same levels/quantities – which are listed from highest to lowest on the bottle.

If you go by the commercials – the more lather the better the shampoo. Not true. In fact it’s the opposite it’s actually harder on your scalp and hair. Salon products contain more of the ingredients your hair needs – proteins, moisturizers – all important for the hair shaft.

“If Pantene did what they claim, don’t you think every salon would have some?”
– Mark King

You should also be wary of product diversion. I watched a PSA about it last summer. Diversion is when products are sold in “unauthorized” places. Salon professional products you find outside of a salon are considered to be “diverted.” Salon professional products are only guaranteed if they are sold at salons. Diverted products can be counterfeit or expired and may not be safe to use. Contaminated or counterfeit products could cause irritation or even infection.


“It is so important to get respect for what you do and at the same time give it.”
– Estelle Parsons

In the end, I think it really comes down to two things. One – respecting the skill and talent of Hair Stylists. Two – that feeling you get when you walk out of the salon after getting your hair done.  You can never recreate that look or that feeling. It’s priceless. You have one person to thank for that – your Stylist.

“Once you find a Stylist and you are happy. Never let them go.”
– Ramsey Sayah