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Are Natural Hair Salons Too Expensive or Do We Undervalue Stylists?

Avatar • May 17, 2015
Miss Jessie's stylists working on clients. Photo credit: MissFoodFab.com

Miss Jessie’s stylists working on clients. Photo credit: MissFoodFab.com

Times are changing in the natural hair world. An increasing number of salons are offering at least one natural hair specialist while a host of others in large US cities like NYC, Chicago and Atlanta offer exclusive natural hair services. Here is a sample price list based on services provided by top-end natural hair salons like Reniece, Hair Rules, Devachan and Miss Jessie’s.

The Prices
Flat iron (may include conditioner treatment) — $100
Wash, Blowout and Style — $100
Partial or full head weave (excluding hair)- $250-$300
Cornrows, own hair twists and braids — from $100
Twists and braids with extensions (excluding hair)- from $300

Note: The prices above are based on averages for the 10 highest rated salons in NYC, Chicago and Atlanta that offer natural hair services (Yelp Reviews). It is indeed however possible to find prices for highly rated salons that are half to 3/4 of the rates above too. The elite salons mentioned previously, tend to charge at and above the rates mentioned and depend on whether the stylist is a junior or senior stylist and the length of your hair.

Are the prices too high?

Paying $100 for a flat iron service for a length check or a temporary style that may last around 1–2 weeks depending on rain and humidity seems a little steep. However, there are considerations to be made before deciding if the price is unjustifiable:

1. Availability of the service
In larger cities, you have the option of choosing another stylist to go to but for some locations where there is a single natural hair specialist in a salon or very few natural hair salons in general, the fact is that you will tend to pay a premium for a very basic service. You may be tempted to go down the DIY route and this is perfectly good if you have the skill or patience to gain the skill but if you are not confident in your own abilities, the service may be worth the price rather than risking damaging your hair.

2. Exclusivity
Salons are image driven businesses and sometimes the prices you see are not really the cost of the service but rather the price that will determine the clientele that the salon wants to attract. Some salons want a return customer who will be willing to fork out $100 every other week for a conditioning treatment and blowout with a cappuccino while others will charge half the amount and get a stylist to service two clients at the same time. Some businesses are interested in volume sales while others focus on return business. It is not unheard of for some natural hair salons to operate a waiting list (real or fictional) for the purpose of being branded as more exclusive.

3. Skill of the hairdresser
By and large, the higher prices are only sustainable if the stylist really is worth their salt. Anyone can open up a salon and charge a ridiculous price but if your hair ends up getting fried or if your braids are too tight and your hairline starts getting affected, you will stop visiting that salon. It is not a given that a higher priced stylist is actually better but if they have been in business for several years and are able to continually attract clients at that price, they may well be a highly skilled stylist.

4. Affordability and a free market
Stylists do not have a mandate to be affordable. For some it is an important concept as they are keen to promote natural hair care to the masses but for many it is just a business and the key concern is profit and longevity.

5. Reviews
The biggest weapon you have as a potential salon client is that you can find many reviews online in addition to possibly getting recommendations from friends or family who have similar hair to your own. In the absence of these, you can equally ask to visit the salon and make a decision based on this. In the end what is unaffordable or ridiculous to one person, may be worth it or reasonable to another. The choice on how much to pay and which business to support is yours as the consumer.

So what do you think ladies? Are natural hair salons too expansive or are we undervaluing their services?

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Kyla
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Kyla

To be honest natural hair salons are expensive period. No matter how you try to put it. And some of them have horrible customer services.

Kayla V.
Guest

I think there is a little bit of both going on. When I was relaxed I could get a wash, blowdry, and flatiron for $35–45. The same salon will charge an extra “natural tax” for their chemical free customers. Stylist deserve to be paid for their expertise and time but many are cashing in on the popularity of natural hair. They should have a base price that they charge for just walking in the door then an additional rate for each hour it takes to do the style. This would result in pricing that respects the stylists training/effort and the… Read more »

caty
Guest
caty

Absolutely not. Our hair takes serious care, we can’t complain because someone understands that our hair is a bit on the difficult side & wants to be paid big bucks. Look at this from the hair dressers standpoint (I’m going to cosmetology school after my senior year) they’re taking a huge risk. They are getting involved with some delicate hair, & if they don’t know how to do it it seems bad on the salon that at least one person can’t handle our hair. So who are we to get upset? We probably have enough natural care bottles under our… Read more »

fancycoils
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fancycoils

I remember my mom once paid a lady $5 to press my hair and I thought that was all the money in the world. LOL @ $100 for a flat iron service. I have never been a salon girl. When I started high school, I went to the salon a few times, but that was just to study the beautician so that I could replicate the look at home. Once I mastered the roller set, I had no reason to visit a salon except for a trim. And a $12 Supercut trim suit me just fine. Now that I wear… Read more »

Netta
Guest
Netta

As someone in cosmetology school, I can say these are actually fair prices. Most ppl just see us as “hairdressers”. Most people done understand there’s an actual art and science to what we do. Its not like homegirl down the street who will plug in her dollar store flat iron, turn it on way higher than your hair needs, and burn the mess out of your hair. We are taught to assess the hair and go through each step with the needed precautions for your hair type. What some people aren’t taking into consideration that part of the higher cost… Read more »

Cosita
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Cosita

Going to a licensed stylist is no guarantee of not getting heat damage. I know plenty of people whose hair wouldn’t full revert after a salon visit. none got refundsm I don’t go to salons but if I did I would take my own products anyway because I spent a lot of time and trial and error knowing what my hair likes dislikes. if your product has ingredients my hair doesn’t like like coconut oil, silicones, and strong proteins then doesn’t matter how high end it is. I only use all natural shampoo ie black soap and the like.

Netta
Guest
Netta

I agree, its not a guarantee. I believe it’s a better chance of not having heat damage for naturals that are starting out and don’t know the proper heat their hair needs.

DLB
Guest
DLB

Do they even teach in cosmetology school how to assess the hair needs of females who have curly/coily hair textures? Most of the head mannequins I’ve seen are only of straight hair. The hair products some hair stylists use make your scalp itchy (they’re more for relaxed hair). The products used at many salons are not healthy for our natural or even relax hair. The great thing about Black hair natural websites, blogs, videos, etc., they teach us how to properly assess our own hair care, which some hair stylists refuse to do (from coloring, trimming, wash/conditioning, styling, etc.). Also,… Read more »

Netta
Guest
Netta

Depending on the school, there are classes taught on highly textured hair. My particular schools dedicates over 30 hrs of just classroom time and then another 20 on clients with kinky/coily hair to graduate. Before you go into a salon, most don’t have a problem answerIng questions about the products they use (at least I don’t). Some salons do have policies against bringing your own so just be careful with that. For the few people that have someone in the industry that have availability to pro products, they are the lucky ones. You have to be careful with the products… Read more »

cryssi
Guest
cryssi

Ummm, yeah that’s a bit pricey. I live in Detroit, the unrecognized hair capital, and our prices aren’t that steep.

Athorn
Guest
Athorn

I don’t know about that… my devacut costs between $60 to $100.

cryssi
Guest
cryssi

oh no no no, not out of these pockets lol

Deedeemaha
Guest
Deedeemaha

After being natural for 6 years now and speaking for my self yes the prices are to high can I afford them yes. However, I choose to not pay them. I do not desire to go on a waiting list, and spend hours in a salon while playing musical chairs. It’s took about 2 years for me to master styling and proper conditioning of my hair. I’m glad I took the time to learn my hair. It’s longer and more healthier then it’s ever been in my life. It was trail and error, but I own them. When I had… Read more »

Ang B
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Ang B

Im in Harlem, NY .. you can get ALL of these services, w/ good end results for the fraction of the prices listed here .. you just have to know where to go. That said? I do my own hair 90% of the time now only bc no one does my hair w/ the same gentle care as I do.

Cosita
Guest
Cosita

These prices are all for altering or hiding your hair. I would be more interested in the price o a curly hair cut or rather shape up. Plus I’m not paying someone $100 to twist my hair when I can do it myself in an hour. And $100 cornrows? You have lost your mind.

Camille
Guest
Camille

Honestly, I’d rather go to a non-luxury salon and pay just over half the price for flat ironing PLUS a shampoo/conditioner and trim, but I would invest in a specialty curly hair cut.

I can’t really argue with those prices because the main reason I went natural is because I don’t like doing my hair. I only make 8 twists for my twist outs, and my hands get tired by the end of that! Natural hair outside of a wash and go context IS labor intensive and I’ve always tipped well because of it.

Coffeeandfingernails
Guest

I do not use heat on my hair (just second chopped about 6 months ago to get rid of damage–never again!) and weaves are just waaaaay too expensive to even contemplate for me. I once used a groupon for twists–don’t know what I expected really, but the stylist’s twists were no better than mine, and I didn’t have Netflix to keep me company while she did them. So the only thing I ever do in a salon is a trim–devacut 3 or so times per year. I’m willing to pay a lot for that only because its only a few… Read more »

Cute_Brown
Guest
Cute_Brown

Natural hair is too unpredictable to pay 100 dollars for a blowout. If it’s humid outside its all for not. Twist out are free everyday at your home. Things I will pay for at salon: highlights or lighter color, hair cuts or shape, and extensions.

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

The price for the flat iron is waaay too high, but the other stuff seems about right. I rarely see my hair dresser since I’m natural, but when I do see him it’s no more than $90. Wash, deep condition, and what ever style I choose.

LBell
Guest
LBell

Honestly, if I were still on that long-hair-by-any-means-necessary train and I’d spent five years protective styling you bet I’d pay good money to a stylist who could demonstrate (via her portfolio) that she can straighten my 4b hair safely and without damage. If it only lasted a week, so what? I’d be swanging my stuff and taking selfies every 10 minutes, lol. Seriously though: I recently had a consultation with a Deva-trained stylist who has experience with cutting my hair texture. If this woman is willing to give my teeny tiny coils the Deva treatment I’ll gladly pay for it…even… Read more »

Cosita
Guest
Cosita

Do you mind telling me how much you were told your Deva Cut will cost? I’m interested in one. I have been shaping it myself and would only be willing to let a Deva-trained stylist cut it. I have no problem with another race cutting my hair because I went to some when I was relaxed and got bomb layers. And I’m disappointed this article doesn’t discuss cut prices.

Decipher
Guest
Decipher

Those prices are too expensive! It’s like those salons are taking advantage of clients with natural hair. If we expect people to convert off from chemicals, then it needs to be affordable.

I respect all hair professionals, but just because society trends still treat natural hair as a niche market; doesn’t make it so.

Dee
Guest
Dee

In my area (Baltimore City) natural hair salons don’t charge that much. My stylist charges $60-$75 for cornrows.

Aliyah
Guest
Aliyah

My hair stylist charges me 45 to 50 for cornrows without extensions .

Nicole's Naps
Guest
Nicole's Naps

If your hair stylist is charging thse rates he/she or the establishment he/she works for is laughing all the way to the bank. These rates are excessive. I used to have hairdressers who would charge me more because my hair was natural. But when I found a stylist who knew what he was doing, he charged me a reasonable rate. Our hair requires care–but that doesn’t mean we should be victims of price gouging.

LBell
Guest
LBell

She recently moved to a new salon and her price has gone up…what she calls a “Curly Girl Cut” is now $75. I know she has Deva training but I guess she can’t call it a Deva cut unless it’s at an actual Devachan salon. I should say this is in the Midwest; I’m guessing the stylists on the coasts charge quite a bit more.

Cosita
Guest
Cosita

Thanks. I would have no problem paying $75 for a great cut because I know I won’t need to go again for at least 3 months.

deRHEA211
Guest
deRHEA211

Natural hair salons are exspensive,period. It’s natural hair you are not getting a weave or a dye so why is it so much.I understand it’s time consuming and natural hair needs more love plus you want to be paid what you are worth.It shouldn’t be a arm and a leg just to get your hair flat iron. All my life I have been natural and to get my hair hot comb was $25 the most . Don’t get me wrong I take pride in my hair and try to take the best care of it because I don’t wear weaves… Read more »

sanjidude
Guest
sanjidude

Oh yeah, those prices are outrageous. I feel very fortunate that I LIKE caring for my own natural hair. It’s fun discovering new ways to style it and new recipes I can create from healthy ingredients to wash and condition it. I thought I didn’t have the time until I realized it took hours longer to have it done by a stylist. Literally HOURS. I’ve also saved a fortune.

LongHair_Don'tCare
Guest
LongHair_Don'tCare

I found a woman on craigslist who said she would do cornrows for $100 and this was after talking her down from $125 and does not include her travel fee of $25. I want them to look nice and she said she has 10 years of experience but ouch! That will hurt my wallet. Any advice? Also, I live in Phoenix if location makes a difference on price.

Antonia
Guest
Antonia

I’m sorry but I aint paying that much for weave

Noor
Guest

The solution: don’t forget the classics. I think the new natural salons are act like specialty salons and so they charge specialty prices. But in hood you always have the option of going to ‘The Dominicans’ (Dominican hair salon) where they are very familiar with blowing out natural hair or go to “The Senegalese” where you can get extensions or braids for under $100 ‑even if you go to the regular (black) salon they can flat iron your hair for far less than $100. Lastly once their are more natural hair salons the prices will naturally go down

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