A woman walks into a hairdressing salon

The decor is of French inspiration. There are huge gilded faux mahogany mirrors. A range of clippers and brushes are arranged on the antique-style marble sinks.

Barbers wear work boots, jeans, and T-shirts under their aprons, making them look more like farriers about to shoe a horse than barbers about to cut their hair.

It takes a while for someone to greet me and confirm that someone can cut my hair. Although the head hairdresser is polite, I feel embarrassed to be the only woman in a typically masculine space.

I sit in the barber’s huge chair. A neck band is snapped around my neck. It’s a bit stuffy.

My hair is dry cut rather than washed. The hairdresser sprays water on my hair from time to time while he is cutting.

He uses a trimmer and scissors, but doesn’t layer the top of my hair as much.

Although he dries my hair at the end, it is not styled.

The result is not radically different from my usual treatment.

I’ve had my hair cut in an androgenic short style for years and joked with friends that I might as well go to a barber. It would be cheaper, on the one hand.

I paid $ 42 for my barber cut, while my regular barber costs $ 102.

What is the difference between hairdressers and barbers?

Hair and Barber New Zealand Executive Chairman Niq James has both hairdressing and barbering qualifications.

“Barbers learn to perform strong, short and traditionally masculine forms with square lines and silhouettes using clippers and scissors,” he said.

Barbers don’t learn to cut feminine styles, James said, while barbers are trained to handle longer hair with softer shapes, as well as color and perm skills.

He said most barbers don’t color or perm hair.

Would I go there again?

While I saved $ 60 on my haircut, I missed out on the extras I usually get from my hairdressers. Washing my hair and having my scalp massaged is a real treat.

There wasn’t much conversation either. A hairdresser tried to start a conversation about the new Matrix movie, but it fell flat. Although it takes time to build a relationship with a stylist, I would have expected a bit more chatter from a new hairstylist.

But, on the other hand, my colleague Chris has said that the lack of conversation is one of his favorite things when going to a barber shop.

Would I go there again? If I was strapped for cash and just needed a quick tidy up, yes. But I am happy to pay a premium to always enjoy the care I receive from my usual stylist.

Why are women’s haircuts more expensive in salons?

When you walk into a salon or check prices online, you will likely see different prices for men’s and women’s cuts.

We searched online for prices in 15 Wellington salons. Fourteen salons had gender prices. A men’s cut and style was on average $ 38 cheaper.

James said that in the late ’80s and early’ 90s some New Zealand salons were using unisex pricing. The cost of a cut was fixed, but all the extras – say a blowing wave or styling product – were then added to the final price.

“It was like a pick and mix situation,” said James.

But it caused more problems than it solved.

“Customers did not understand the system and were billed more than expected. After that, hairdressers went back to the gender model, ”said James.

You cannot be charged more for a service simply because of your gender. However, there are grounds for different pricing if more skills are needed to perform the service.

Vivo Hair and Beauty charges clients for time and stylist skills, rather than gender, said co-founder Lynden Mason.

“We think that means people get what they pay for in terms of expertise and time taken,” Mason said.

At Vivo, a 30-minute appointment with a junior stylist costs an average of $ 45-50. The same time with a senior stylist costs you between $ 55 and $ 80.

However, most dates are 45 minutes long, Lynden said.

Vivo changed its prices from traditional prices for women and men to gender-neutral prices in February in all of its 90 salons.

“We probably lost a few male clients,” because under the old system “men were actually getting a good deal” with cheaper cuts, Lynden said.

Tips for getting the fit you want

Hair is our advice to make sure you don’t get foiled on your next date:

  • Book a free consultation with your stylist to discuss the style you want and how much you can afford.
  • If you think your stylist hasn’t done their job with reasonable care and skill, go back and ask them to correct it.
  • If your renovation was significantly sloppy, you have reason to ask for a refund.


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