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.
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.
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.
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?