Cut it out: Why are women’s haircuts so expensive?

Stylists from around Halifax explain why women’s haircuts cost more than men’s.

UPDATE: Information in the graph was corrected on Feb. 1, 2016

Chatter and music fill the air. The soft snick of scissors mixes with the sound of blow dryers and spray bottles. Tufts of hair are trampled underfoot as stylists dart to and fro. Shannon Bower squeezes her eyes shut as her stylist pushes her bangs onto her face. She is sitting in the Stanhope and Company hair studio, receiving a new haircut that will cost her $28 more than the haircut of the man sitting beside her.

This is not an uncommon occurrence. Not just for Bower, and not just at the Stanhope and Company studio. Nearly every hair salon in Halifax prices women’s haircuts significantly above men’s haircuts. A typical men’s wash and cut costs about $30, while a women’s wash and cut costs about $50.

Graph depicting the difference between the cost of women's haircuts and the cost of men's haircuts.
Graph depicting the difference between the cost of women’s haircuts and the cost of men’s haircuts. CORRECTION: The numbers above for Thumpers Salon are incorrect. They should be $52 for women and $43 for men. (Graph by Leah Woolley)

This begs the question: Why?

Haircut statistics

Women’s cuts are generally booked for 45 minutes to an hour, while men’s haircuts are usually only booked for half an hour. If clients are being charged for time, this would explain the higher prices for women. But it still leaves us wondering why all women’s haircuts take longer than men’s.

Another possible reason for pricing disparity could be how much product is used in women’s cuts compared to men’s cuts. Several hair stylists say that generally both men’s and women’s haircuts require the same amount of product.

One patron suggested that men’s haircuts are cheaper because men get their hair cut more often. According to many stylists, people with short hair tend to get haircuts about every four to six weeks, while people with longer hairstyles tend to get haircuts every eight to 12 weeks.

But not all men have short hair, and not all women have long hair. Our question remains: Why do women’s haircuts cost more than men’s haircuts?

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Quantity vs. quality

It all comes down to how much hair you have, and how long it takes your stylist to cut it.

“We’re providing a service, so the deciding factor is really time,” says Jenn Greene, a stylist at Kara’s Urban Day Spa.

Jill Ernest, a fellow stylist from Bowtique Hair and Makeup, agrees.

Ernest says that women’s hair usually takes longer to cut, but if a man comes in with long hair she will usually charge him the women’s rate. “It’s the difference between a 20-30 minute service to a 40-60 minute service.”

Local student Tora Oliphant is sitting in the next chair over, receiving her monthly trim. “As a kid, my haircut would cost twice as much as my brothers’, but I would also spend twice as long in the chair,” she says.

Ernest’s co-worker, Teresa Fisher, says sometimes men’s cuts can take just as long as women’s. “Some men are just as picky, if not pickier, than women. You wouldn’t believe it, but it’s true.”

Stylist Angelina Bistekos at the Casa Dante Hair Studio says that even if women have short hair, the cuts still typically take longer than men’s.

“Women’s are a little more expensive just because there is more work put into it than men’s cuts. There is work that goes into men’s cuts, but women get a hair styling, a blow dry, and in my experience lots of product gets used. Women are also more likely to want extra services, whereas men are kind of more easygoing,” says Bistekos.

At Stanhope and Company hair studio, Redmon Giovanni is cutting Shannon Bower’s hair. He says “for a women’s short haircut, I charge them the men’s price, but I don’t always charge men more for a longer haircut.” He says that even with long hair, men’s cuts are still generally more basic than women’s.

Fisher explains how “prices do vary depending on the skill level of the stylist. There is demand on time, experience, and for specific things they’ve studied over the years.”

Greene and Giovanni agree. “We pay money to go to classes and learn new techniques, and we go to hair shows to see what’s new. We invest a lot into what we do,” Greene says.

Giovanni says the technique that he’s using to cut Bower’s hair took him about 10 years to learn. “I think you pay for the experience of the stylist as well as the time you spend in the chair,” he says.

Stacey Turpin, an employee at Vitality Medi-Spa, points out that a women’s short haircut may be considered a men’s cut, just based on the amount of work that has to be done. She says most stylists make a judgment call when they see a client, and can charge them the women’s or men’s rate depending on which best suits their cut.

Ernest says she considers all aspects of the haircut when deciding on a price, not just the gender or hair length of her client.

 

Greene does it too. “Sometimes I’ll lower my price, depending on what I’ve done,” she says, as she sorts through a box of new hair products that have just come in.

Is it fair?

Greene thinks so. “The people who do this because it’s their passion tend to charge a bit more, because they know their value,” she says.

Ernest says it often depends on who’s running the place. “We have the benefit of being locally owned, so we can take our own prices into consideration. Some places have to stick to prices set out for them,” she says.

Some places, like Casa Dante, have their own set standard prices, but “it also depends on the stylist, because everybody kind of mixes it up and makes their own prices for their own clients,” says Bistekos.

Giovanni says, “It’s fair if you charge by time, but if you charge by the haircut then it’s not. I always charge by the time. Time and technique should be the determining factors of price.”

BlackOUT 2.0 sheds light on challenges facing LGBTQ African-Nova Scotians

Members of the community discuss what it means to be black and LGBTQ in the province.

Young LGBTQ African-Nova Scotians should accept themselves and seek out others who support them, a panel called BlackOUT 2.0 said on Wednesday.

“We need to accept ourselves, more than anything,” said Chris Cochrane, a transgender African-Nova Scotian woman. “We have to make sure we are living and accepting our lives to the fullest so we can help other people.”

Cochrane was one of four panellists who spoke at the Halifax Central Library from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event was advertised as “an open discussion of what it means to be African-Nova Scotian and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) in 2015.”

Robert Wright, Evelyn White, and Axel Obame joined Cochrane on stage. Rev. Elaine Walcott acted as a moderator. They all spoke about how difficult it is to accept yourself when you can’t find others who are accepting of you.

“It is a dialogue that allows for more people to participate in the conversation. Four chairs, one for each panellist, plus two extra chairs. Any LGBTQ African-Nova Scotian who is a black person can sit in one of the extra chairs at any time and join in the discussion,” said Walcott.

The panel talked about the challenges that young LGBTQ African-Nova Scotians currently face.

“Speaking for the younger generation, one of the challenges is being yourself. Because if your environment is unsure of you, you are going to doubt yourself so much more, and it doesn’t help you in the least,” said Obame.

He said that there is some acceptance in the province, “but on a scale of one to 10, it’s like a 3.5, not like an eight.”

He also spoke about how important it is that young African-Nova Scotian LGBTQ people find an outside source that is accepting of them. “When you find that outside voice, it helps you validate everything you’ve been keeping hidden inside,” said Obame.

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The panel stressed the need for improved and more accessible resources for African-Nova Scotian LGBTQ youth.

Walcott said she is open and available to help anyone in the community who is in need. White also promised her support to younger struggling LGBTQ African-Nova Scotians. “As an elder in this community, I have your back,” said White, “and the only thing you are required to be is yourself.”

The panel was split into two parts. The panellists discussed three questions and a short question and answer period followed.

The three main questions were:

  • What does it mean to you for you to be African-Nova Scotian and LGBTQ?
  • What are the challenges of being African-Nova Scotian and LGBTQ in 2015?
  • What are the opportunities for moving forward regarding being African-Nova Scotian and LGBTQ?

Each panellist also made a point of mentioning how rarely events like BlackOUT occur.

“We need more opportunities to share this conversation,” said Wright.

The event was presented by NSRAP (Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project) LGTBQ Youth and Elders Project in partnership with the Halifax Central Library as part of African Heritage Month. The Facebook event page said “all LGBTQ community members, friends, and allies are welcome.”

“This is an event of empowerment and validation. It is certainly a rare and treasured opportunity,” said Walcott. “It’s so powerful to have this opportunity so that others will have a sense that they are not alone.”

Extra credit for King’s students on snow day

Students at University of King’s College were paid for their snow-clearing services when the full-time staff couldn’t make it in.

On Wednesday, while Halifax suffered through yet another winter storm, students at the University of King’s College discovered an unexpected way to make money.

Students were paid by the university in exchange for clearing snow from the main walkways and all emergency exits on the King’s campus.

The university was closed on Wednesday and Thursday, after Halifax received between 50-80 cm of snow.

Alex Doyle, the director of facilities at King’s, said it was a unique situation. All of the usual support staff were busy digging themselves out of their own homes and could not make it into work.

Doyle reached out to students through the dons in Alexandra Hall. There was also a notice posted to the“University of King’s College Class of 2018” Facebook page.

The notice called for students to help deal with the fact that “our campus has essentially been buried by what can only be explained as hell actually freezing over.”

Pathway dug out by students that leads to residence housing on King's campus. (Photo credit: Leah Woolley)
Pathway dug out by students that leads to residence housing on King’s campus. (Photo credit: Leah Woolley)

Danielle McCreadie, one of the students who took advantage of the offer, said shovelling “was awesome.”

She said all the students who shovelled went down to the security office underneath Middle Bay beforehand to log their time and sign out shovels.

“I was shovelling with four other friends but there were about 12 to 15 of us out there,” said McCreadie.

She only shovelled for a few hours, but other students continued working throughout the day.

Doyle said that a few years ago, hiring students to shovel used to be a standard practice of the university. He wants to revisit the idea next year and says he has recently been talking to the dean of residence about setting up an official list of students who would want work clearing snow.

“It’s a good idea. It gets students out of residence to make a little money and clear some pathways,” said Doyle.

McCreadie said she would definitely do it again, if the offer came up.

The students were offered minimum wage, which is around $10 an hour.

More Halifax News: March 2 – 5

Catch up on happenings on the Halifax peninsula, as reported by other news outlets.

Nova Scotia to amend bill on sexual assault, removing time limits on civil suits (CBC Halifax)

Lena Diab, Nova Scotia’s justice minister, promised to amend a bill on sexual assault regarding time limits on civil lawsuits on Thursday. The changes would allow victims of sexual assault to launch civil lawsuits regardless of when the assault took place. The statute of limitations on criminal charges is not affected by the proposed amendment. The Limitation of Actions Act currently removes the statute of limitations for any future victims of sexual abuse. The proposed amendment would apparently allow for retroactive lawsuits. Meanwhile, the province is getting requests from individuals regarding Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh, whose convictions for sex crimes in the 1970s were overturned on appeal.

Police rescue young harbour seal taking leisurely stroll down middle of Halifax street (Metro News)

Around 12:30 a.m., two officers were flagged down by a woman who wanted to help a harbour seal she had found under her car. The seal then wandered down Lower Water Street. According to a release from police, officers used “gentle persuasion” to wrap the seal in a blanket and took it back to the harbour. Dozens of local female harbour seals give birth in late January to early February, and nurse their pups for four to six weeks before sending them out on their own. Young seals have been known to find their way into parts of the city as they figure out where to find their own food.

Police shut down Mic Mac Mall after threat, later release three (Chronicle Herald)

Three people were arrested and later released by the Halifax Regional Police on Tuesday in connection with a potential threat against Mic Mac Mall. During police investigation, two men and a woman were arrested around 3:40 p.m. in an apartment in the 200 block of Willett Street in Halifax. Police said they were co-operative with investigators and are not believed to be involved in the matter at hand. Mic Mac Mall reopened at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday with increased security measures. Police investigation is still ongoing.

ER crowding levels at Halifax hospital called critical (Chronicle Herald)

The emergency department of the Halifax Infirmary is experiencing an influx of patients, and not enough resources or space to deal with them. The department typically sees 180 patients daily. It saw 198 on Tuesday, while on Monday it had 242. According to the doctors who work there, an ailing and aging population has resulted in 30 per cent more patients over the last two years. Lack of capacity at the ER is the key problem. Patients in need are advised to consider all options, including 811, rather than going to the emergency room as a first choice.

Pictures released of suspect in stolen credit card case (Chronicle Herald)

Police responded to a vehicle break-in report at Mount Saint Vincent University mid-afternoon on Feb. 1. The victim had found her car window smashed and her purse missing. Later, police learned the victim’s credit card had been used after the robbery. On Thursday, police released pictures of a woman who allegedly used the credit card. She is described as being in her 20s, white, with blond hair. She was wearing a dark coat with a fur hood and sunglasses, and drove a dark-coloured Saturn Ion. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 902-490-5016.