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Women: What is your Hair Budget?

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Yesterday I was reminded of something that I tried to forget. My wife had mentioned (quite a long time ago) the cost of her hair coloring. At the time if she asked me to guess what a coloring costs, I'd say it should be in the neighborhood of $40 - maybe $50. It turns out that I wouldn't have been close - not by a long shot. She spends $200 for a cut and color every 6 weeks! I was in shock, by this number, but since we were single, it was her money, so what could I say? Now it stings a little because it is "our" money. I tried to examine all my grooming costs and $200 might cover a whole year's worth.

I'm a pretty logical person and since I blog about my money, my thoughts immediately turn to, "What can we do about this?" My first thought is to eliminate the cost completely. "Is hair coloring really necessary?" Unfortunately, it is in this case. My wife has gone gray and being 30 with gray hair is just not acceptable when we can afford this luxury. In short, "Honey, your gray hair is beautiful. Go with it" is not going to work. My next idea is to limit the cost. I seem to recall seeing an entire aisle of hair coloring in the drug store. Back in college, I even experimented with over the counter colorings myself - with hilarious results. The cost of these solutions are minimal. Alas, my wife claims to have tried a couple of these and they were failures making her hair "frizzy" or some other negative adjective.

I think it's worth trying to find a brand in the aisle that works. However, my wife tells me that if you try it and it fails they need to strip out that (at additional cost) and start all over with the expensive stuff. Thus experimenting with a lower-cost solution would probably cost us $300 a try. She tells me that all her friends pay this cost, so there must not be a better solution. I can't get my head around the fact that there's a whole aisle in the drug store that generates no sales. However, I'm out of my element here. So ladies, how do you color your hair? Do you end up paying such a high price? Men, what are your thoughts on this?

Posted on July 23, 2007.

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77 Responses to “Women: What is your Hair Budget?”

  1. Don’t fight it. Does she get mani/peti too? Are there others or is this the only one?

  2. We budget $50 a month for my wife’s “beauty” stuff:

    We recently bumped up makeup by $2.67 because Avon prices went up (she gets discounts from her mother who is an Avon representative).

    My wife gets her hair done every 3 months. The cut and color cost just under $90. And, women, before you balk that the cheap price equals cheap results, you’re wrong. He hairdresser/stylist is great!

    We had to hunt for this, and you don’t have to pay retail prices. Strike a deal. Stylists want regular customers. Retail is for one off customers. Ask how much they would charge by becoming a regular customer and setting up a schedule.

  3. Lazy Man says:

    RateLadder: This is the only one. I’m not “fighting” it, we both agree that if there’s a cheaper alternative it will get us to our financial goals faster. The best gift (other than the engagement ring) that I got her was an IPod Nano. She was lost for hours that I’d get her something that pricey. It really hit home when I said that we could get her a new 8 Nanos a year if we could find an alternative.

    Brandon Smith: Unfortunately, I’m not sure we can hunt. She uses only one brand of hair coloring that “works best for her.” I should have got the name of the coloring so that someone could chime in something similar, but I didn’t. Still, if we stick with the same formula, only 1 in 10 hair shops is an option. Shopping around might not be the fix in this case.

  4. SJean says:

    I spend 150 for a cut and highlights, along with an eyebrow wax. I try to stretch it out as long as possible, but it ususally starts to look bad around 3 months. But for a dye job, you’d get a harsh line once it grew out and 3 months probably wouldn’t cut it.

    In college, I did the drug store stuff because I couldn’t afford highlights, and it was ok. Acceptable. But my hair looks *much* better with it done professionally, and I can afford it, and it presents a more professional image.

  5. mapgirl says:

    Have her try Vidal Sassoon for student cuts and coloring. That sounds risky, but Vidal Sassoon salons are advanced training for cosmetologists that are already licensed, so you aren’t going to end up with a poor hairstyle. They always need hair models. It’s cheap. $16 for them to rent the chair and you end up with a cut worth $75. It does take a few hours. One time I was a final exam cut, but the instructor didn’t know it and let me leave without grading the cut. The student called me back a week later for a free trim so they could get their grade.

    I am Asian so I don’t have to color my hair. I keep it long and straight. I don’t blow dry it and so the only thing I spend money on for hair care are shampoo, conditioner, a little hair serum, and ponytail holders. I cut my hair and donate it to Locks of Love, and by keeping it pulled back all the time, or in a bun, nobody knows how badly I hacked it off. I get a professional cut about once a year for $50.

    I guess I probably spend about $150 a year on my hair and about the same on mani/pedi (just for the person who left the comment on that). Self-esteem is important and if that’s what it takes to feel good, it’s a lot cheaper than a therapist.

    FWIW, another thing to do is have a friend color your hair for you at home. I used to help my mom dye her greying hair back to black when I was a kid. A friend of mine had a very good colorist. The colorist was out of work for a while, so she would come over and color my friend’s hair in the bathroom. While that’s illegal in a lot of states, it’s part of the underground economy and kept the colorist going till she could find a good spot in the high end salons she usually worked. I think my friend paid for time and chemicals and it was probably about a half to a third of the price it cost once she was back at a salon. (You know a lot of them just ‘rent’ chairs at the salon?)

  6. Alex says:

    My wife drives me nuts with her John Edwards’ type spending on her hair. It is really hard to call her on it though as she tends to get quite defensive, followed by depressed about the way she looks. I’ve learned to not confront her on this and other things, as it is almost never worth it, despite the vast sums we could be saving.

  7. Mike says:

    $200? Ouch. I’d be tempted to survey some other local hair care establishments to see if there’s a more price-competitive solution.

  8. Anne says:

    I spend $70 every six weeks for cut and eyebrow waxing, and about $160 every three months for that plus highlights. My mom spends about $120 every six weeks to have her hair dyed. For us, it is worth it. With this routine, I don’t have to fuss with or worry about my hair. Theoretically, this could even save money by freeing up time I would spend making my hair look presentable. It certainly saves mental energy, because my hair used to drive me nuts. I’m very frugal on all other aspects of my appearance, but I would give up my clothing budget before I’d give up getting my hair done. Sure, it would be nice if I could accomplish the look I want for less. But I think for myself and many other women, it takes soo long to find a stylist, cut and color that work, it’s nerve-wracking to mess with a winning combination.

  9. plonkee says:

    To be honest $200 (about £100) sounds about right to me. I spend £35 (=$70) on a cut and blow dry and colouring costs about twice as much (give or take).

    Home hair colouring doesn’t give the same results as having it done in the salon – there is a reason why they go to school to learn how to do it properly. This is particularly true if her peers have theirs done professionally – people will be able to tell the difference.

  10. Helen says:

    mapgirl has the right idea about going to a teaching salon. In Chicago we have the Aveda Institute and it’s something ridiculous like $15 for a haircut and not much more than that for color. The students are supervised and I feel that sometimes they do a better job than a professional because they’re taking their time and being careful.

    It does take 2-3 times as long as a regular salon, though.

  11. Mike says:

    My wife spends about $120 for cut and color, and goes maybe 6-7 times a year. On some occasions she’s just gotten the cut, that’s $40-50.

    While I certainly marvel at the difference in cost between that and my $18 cut at the barber that I already think is expensive, I’ve learned never to complain about this cost. I think for many women, including my wife, it’s difficult to find a stylist you like, and once you find one you don’t want to risk switching.

    It’s not hard for me to accept this though, because my wife overall is very frugal–I’ll come home from work and start sweating because it’s 80 degrees inside, and her answer is “change into shorts and short sleeves” (and “put on a sweater” in the winter). She admits guiltily to me when she makes a few purchases online, for things I’d consider perfectly reasonable expenses like back-to-school clothes for the kids, and our spending is well within our means. She doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, or get mani/pedi or other spa treatments. I don’t think either one of us has been to a shopping mall in years.

    So bottom line, in light of the big picture I’m happy to let her spend what I’d consider a fortune for a haircut. She’s just as financially responsible as I am, so if it’s worth it to her, it’s worth it to me.

  12. Dave says:

    I say my thank you prayers every night for finding a natural girl who isn’t out to impress with her dress!

  13. Tyler says:

    I am with Dave. My girl doesn’t need to color her hair or get crazy hair cuts. I actually cut her hair 2 weeks ago for the first time (2 inches off the bottom because of split ends) and she said that I did great! In fact, she is not going to go to hairstylists anymore. Booyah for me and my girl!

  14. Karen says:

    I spend $150 every 6 weeks for a cut and color. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I searched high and low for a lower cost alternative. However, after three years of mediocre haircuts and color, I literally went back to work part time just so I could go back to the salon of my choice. I say if your wife works and is happy with her hair stylist leave her and her hair alone. There are other ways to save money that don’t involving messing with your spouse’s psych. (Yes, gray hair at 30 and badly cut hair does mess with a woman’s psych, gentleman….)

    Also, to all you guys out there praising the natural look, just how old and gray are your wives? And is it her choice — or YOUR choice — that she’s shunning the stylist? (No fair answering for her. Go ask her what her preference would be if money was not the issue here.)

  15. Zachary says:

    Twenty bucks every couple of months for a haircut.

  16. Brian says:

    Wow, I had no idea. My wife spends maybe 50-70 for a haircut, but she hasn’t had one in over a year. I probably spend more than she does ($17 every month .. including tip). I guess I should re-think this “you should really get your hair cut” guilt trip I’ve been putting on her.

  17. Nidra I says:

    The best thing for me to stop frizz is Mixed Chicks. The system they have is really easy and affordable.

  18. Kim says:

    I probably get my hair cut 2-3 times a year and I have been going to Vidal Sassoon Academy (like the person above suggested) where it costs me 20 bucks for a 60 dollar hair cut. They also do hair dying. I totally recommend this if your wife is patient and does not get antsy sitting in the same chair for 3 hours. I know people who just can’t do it hehe and in that case it’s not worth it. FYI, all of the students are closely monitored by the teachers so I’ve never seen anything go wrong.

  19. You know what Lazy? It kills when I see the bill on her mastercard (we share all bank accounts) and I surely forget about it when she comes back with a new color every 3 months! My wife even tried those “make it at home” color but the results are the same.

    I guess this is simply part of the “costs of marriage”!

  20. Midg says:

    Mentioned this post to my wife this morning. She says that $200 is about right. She also mentioned that she doesn’t worry about anything like this anymore. But before we were married she would have. Luckily I don’t have to worry about makeup/hair expenses. My wife keeps her hair long and wares very little makeup. Her mother lives 2 houses down from us and my wife has her trim her hair as needed. Also, my wife cuts my hair. She does a decent job and it beats paying $20 for a hair cut.

  21. AM says:

    I started going gray when I was in my early 20’s. I’m now in my mid-30’s, and have colored my own hair for 15 years. I go to see my hairdresser for a $40 cut every 3 months or so. Back in the day, I did have her color it a few times, and I asked a lot of questions – are you using a 5-level or a 6-level? Gold or Ash? Do you use a 20 or a 30 developer? How long do you keep it on? What should I use if I want a few highlights? Then, I found myself a good beauty supply store and started asking more questions. I just buy my supplies from there and do it all at home. I’ve never had a hair disaster, my hair grows like a weed with these skunk stripe gray roots – and I probably spend about $10/month on my hair overall. I could totally afford $200 every 6 weeks, but why would I want to when I get great results on my own? Sometimes, I think women are just gullible…

  22. Lani says:

    1. I can spot a woman with hair colored from a box a mile away- ick! No woman wants to feel icky!

    2. $200? I found that becoming friends with my stylist (the annual happy hour and the constant referrals), I get charged far less… doesn’t hurt to make a friend; I pay $90 for cut, highlight and eyebrows!!! 3 months? I’m a brunette who goes blonde… 6 weeks max! No white trash roots here!

    3. If a woman spends that much before marriage, it’s fair game. This is the ONLY thing I won’t sacrifice… I do my own nails, waxing, etc but hair color can separate the girls from the ladies. Ick!

  23. Brip Blap says:

    I can’t add much but to agree with many of the other comments – live with it for now! Hair coloring, $200. Happy wife, priceless! Seriously, if it’s a priority, encourage her to look at alternatives but until she finds something, don’t push it. My wife finally found an organic natural dye that worked as well as her salon treatments after a few years of marriage. She always experimented here and there in between salon treatments. Now boom – she switched to something that only costs about $25 per treatment. So change is possible.

    I say this as a man who’s lucky to be blond and therefore gray-immune until it all goes white (but so far, still blond).

  24. Penny says:

    I spend about $120 tip every 10-12 weeks for my cut and colour, but since I’m matching my natural hair (just covering the grey), I can go that long without it becoming noticeable.

    There is a world of difference between the box colour and the colour blended by your stylist for you. And there’s a technique to putting it on correctly – putting it on the roots first, letting it sit, pulling it through to the ends, etc.

    That being said, I have long, thick, curly hair, and I go to a pretty high end salon – I would think that it’s possible for your wife to find someplace less expensive. However! Finding someone who “gets” your hair is hard, so I can see why she wouldn’t want to switch stylists.

  25. Ryan says:

    HAHAHA, welcome to married life. you’re s*****d.

  26. This is my first comment here (subscribed recently, great blog). As a man who is bereft from any feeling for fashion I must say I do like gray hair (on men), if it’s only covering a small area that is. In contrast to dark hair, it looks great.

  27. Slinky says:

    I get my hair done as often as I can afford it (college student). When I graduate I shall definately be spending my $110/6weeks haircut/dye/eyebrow wax. I have been dying my hair since I was 16. My hair is some strange ash blonde/brown color that results in people asking me why I have grey hair so young. So not dying isn’t an option.

    I’ve tried box dyes. I also spent about 5 hours and 3-4 treatments to get it stripped out of my hair when I wanted to change the color. They also make my thick, frizzy hair thicker and frizzier. Not to mention being able to get the color I want.

    As a college student I’m on a rather firm budget. I’ll put off a hair appointment when I need the money, but I will not cut out my hair budget or go back to boxed dyes. It’s completely worth it to not have long frizzy grey hair.

  28. Lise says:

    My immediate reaction to the $200/6 weeks cost is “that’s ridiculous.” But I know I’m rare in that I don’t wear makeup, don’t dye, curl, or otherwise adulterate my hair, and go shopping two or three times a year. I do pay $40-$50 for a haircut, but I try to stretch that out to 8-10 weeks. Getting a quality haircut does matter, I find; not only in terms of looks but in terms of how easy it is to take care of. I have very fine hair, and so I have to keep it short or it goes to pot.

    I think women are too hung up on appearances. I have a husband who loves me and finds me attractive, and that’s all that matters. Everyone else can bugger off.

    That said, I don’t think your wife will take kindly to your seeking to interrupt her beauty routine. I think this is one area where you have to leave off and teach by example.

  29. sfchickster says:

    I have a theory that women with colored hair have a better sex life then women who don’t dye their hair. My 82 year old mom looks about 50 because she dyes her hair and whitens her teeth.

    Unless your wife is having multiple processes to her hair every 6 weeks, $200 seems steep, even for NYC or L.A. I have long hair and dye with permanent rather than semi permanent and I pay $120 for full dye and blow dry in Beverly Hills. $200 is a bit steep but considering my first sentence, it’s well worth the price, no? ;)

  30. Ashley says:

    You do have a couple options, but box color is not one. As Penny mentioned you are paying the stylist for a reason (in a word, education). Getting a bad dye job stripped is far pricier than you think; when I worked in a salon, it was $60-80 an hour to take dye out. Depending on the color, I’ve seen it take over three hours.

    Cosmetology schools are an option, just call all of them in your area (check community colleges too) and see if they use the correct hair dye. Depending on the type of dye she uses, look them up online and see if they have a school in your area. You will probably get the best results from a school run by that company.

    Find out whether your wife’s stylist rents a chair or is employed by the salon. Someone who is renting a chair is actually in business for themselves and is in a position to negotiate. If she works for the salon, she probably has little to no wiggle room in the price. That being said, not all stylists at a salon have the same prices. Many times the newest stylists will have lower prices to help build their business.

    If she decides to try a new stylist, it might be a good idea for you to go first. A cut and color for a man is a lot cheaper, but requires the same knowhow. If you try the new stylist first and she doesn’t make the grade, you can cut your hair sooner and your wife didn’t just waste all of that money.

  31. Alison says:

    Um, where do you guys live? I think you should include that information with your cost of cut/color, because there seems to be great variety in the cost.

    I was living in a suburban town in Pennsylvania up until a month ago and had a ‘fancy’ salon (it wasn’t a chain, that is) where I would get my hair cut for $35, and it pained me to do it every time, but I only did it every 4-5 months. I would grow my hair out from short to long, and when I just couldn’t stand how long it was getting, I cut it. I have also donated to Locks of Love, it is a great incentive to keep from getting a haircut.

    Just before I moved, I was about to get married to I splurged on getting a cut & color that was all over color with highlights (it is cheaper to just get one or the other, I would note). I was absolutely HORRIFIED at the cost, $85. I would not have done it for $100, not to mention $200. I can’t justify that. Everyone is giving all the pro-sides of salon coloring, but I disagree. I found it to be painful and the result only minimally better than using the drugstore box – I use Clairol Nice & Easy for about $6 at home. Anyway, this $35 for wash & cut, $85 for color & cut was at a salon with all the expensive products, where they serve you complimentary beverages while you get the cut. Not exactly Cost Cutters. That is why I am surprised people are saying $200 is normal.

    Using the box hair dye makes my hair (which is normally kind of the consistency of straw at the ends, and oily at the scalp) much less oily and more soft. I love it, it’s like putting moisturizing cream in your hair. But I think a key point is how far you are going from your natural shade. If your wife is going far from natural, maybe she should consider going closer to it or just highlighting instead. I have very light brown/”dirty blonde” hair and make it light blonde. Seems to work quite well and doesn’t look bad even though I only color it 3-4x a year. Also, tell your wife you are willing to help her with coloring. You need an extra set of hands to make it look good to make sure you fully get the back of your head/roots, that is the secret.

  32. Hamtaro says:

    I live in San Francisco. I used to spend about $200 on my hair until I decided to live more frugally. I also have the means to spend that much based on my income and net worth. I’ve found that I can keep my hair looking great while spending less money.

    Here are some ideas:
    1. I also have a problem with early gray. My hair is black — you can see the gray and just my luck it happens to be all in the front. Me personally – I live with the gray and I still feel quite beautiful. If you wife isn’t comfortable with grays — she can probably add some highlights to the crown. It won’t completely cover the gray, but it will be less noticeable. This is a cheaper solution than an all-over dye and has less noticeable grow-out.

    2. Wear your hair longer. With my hair longer – I go up to 9 months without a cut. I keep my hair healthy in the meantime with over the counter conditioners and I don’t blow it out everyday. Short styles need more frequent trims. I think your wife could stretch it to 8 weeks as a compromise which would make it a $100 per month budget. Hey Marriage is a compromise! I think that’s a small one.

    3. It was said before, but use a more junior stylist or go to a less popular but still nice salon. I downgraded to a cheaper salon that is in the city and just as nice! Cuts and dyes were about $50 cheaper for the same quality.

    4. I agree with your wife that box dyes are hard because of the ‘re-dying’ part. First dye comes out great, but most people don’t know how to do touch-ups and it ruins their hair. However, I disagree with the other commenter that you can spot a box dye from a mile away. That is just something people tell themselves to justify their $200 dye and its not true. Those people just don’t know how to pick the right color for their skin tone/hair and hence the box dye looks bad. An honest stylist will be able to recommend you a good OTC box dye —if they say box dyes are crap its because they want your $200.

    My two cents.

  33. mmm says:

    There’s no need to spend that much for a great haircut and color.

    First, hair coloring in a box can be great these days. I have a friend who is a multi-millionaire, and she uses color from a box to dye her own hair and it looks great. The quality of the products have gone up a ton over the years, and there are very natural choices. There are lots of options that are virtually fool-proof. And you can always start out with a “safer” color and then go darker or lighter.

    Second, I have found great “training” days at top salons in every city where I’ve ever lived, including DC, London, LA, SF and Palo Alto. Just call the top salons in your area. Ask them if they have trainees/apprentices and if they need hair models. Many places do, and your cut and color will be free or extremely cheap. You will also get a good stylist since even if top salons hire an experienced person, they still may require them to go through the salon’s own training.

  34. Wow – used to spend about 100 dollars a year on hair, just for cuts every now and then.

    I took a huge jump recently and now spend 28 dollars every six weeks. I get it highlighted and cut at the beauty college, and I’m considering stopping because it is costing too much for my personal comfort level! But my sister gets it done at a salon, and she spends about what your wife spends, so I don’t think that it is an unusual amount. See if she’ll try a beauty college- everybody has raved about my hair since I started getting it highlighted. They have not messed up once, and the students are heavily supervised.

    My husband spends zero- I cut his hair at home every month.

  35. musiccaab says:

    I have a treatment called Japanese thermal straightening done and it’s $800 each treatment. It’s permanent– until the hair grows out. So my budget for hair, not including shampoos and conditioning, is about $1600/year (I don’t have it done twice a year, but with tip, it adds up). My boyfriend and I are in the process of buying a house and believe me, now that we have a huge shared expense, I never hear the end of it.

    I’ll tell you what I tell my bf– if it cost twice as much, I’d still get it done. It makes me feel good and that is priceless.

  36. E. D. says:

    I spend $60 (with tip) for a haircut every three months. I do not color my hair.

  37. Vicki says:

    There is a middle ground between box color and the stylist. Many the of the professional dyes and bleaches (lifter) can be purchased at Sally for $15 a session max. Others can be ordered from catalogs, even if you aren’t really a stylist. Its not that hard to put the professional color in, let it sit (she can time how long next time), and wash it out. Why that costs $100, I have no idea. The trick is asking your stylist which color they are putting in, and I mean brand and number, which they might not want to answer, for obvious reasons.

    However, cheaping out on haircuts is the WORST IDEA EVER. Do not do it!

  38. Anitra says:

    I’ll probably never color my hair. Of course, I’m only in my mid-20s, so it’s easy for me to say that – but I’ve always admired women (like my mother) who don’t try to cover up their gray. At 42, when I was born, my mother was already mostly gray, so I never knew her any other way.

    I’m stingy enough that I space out my haircuts until it’s so shaggy I can’t bear it anymore. I got a good haircut spending less than $40, once – and I hated the cut I got when I returned there about 2 months later. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things you need to spend money for.

  39. susan says:


    I go for a professional haircut once a year, the rest of the time I trim it myself. It’s shoulder length so I have a little margin for error if I need to correct it.

    I color using a drug store box ($6 with the $2 coupons in the Sunday papers) every 6 weeks.

    So I figure that’s about $80 a year.

    Damn, I’m sorry, but I can think of WAY better ways to spend $1600/year.

  40. Jaime says:

    Wow! I know I have friends that pay a lot for hair coloring but I never knew it could be that expensive. I just got a trim (first one in about 9 months!) and I paid 14 bucks. I am 25, and even when I made 6 figures I never paid a lot. I’ve spent up to about $70 on a haircut and highlights once before but I thought it was crazy. It grew out, and I didn’t have that much to show for it! I do color my hair from a box once in awhile but I suppose I just like being plain!
    (and cheap!)

  41. Susan says:

    I love to look great and I’m older than everybody on this blog but I spend $2.99 on Revlon #43 (medium golden brown) to color my 30% gray hair. It doesn’t frizz from the color, only humidity does that. It would absolutely kill me to spend $200 every 6 weeks. My daughters are 29 & 26 and they would tell me if it looked awful, believe me, they would tell me. Sometimes the coloring is half-price and I pay $1.50. Looking good is important to me too but I think a good cut, exercise and nutrition are as important as pricey salon visits.

  42. JJ in Balt says:

    “I’m happy to let her spend what I’d consider a fortune for a haircut.” “My girl doesn’t need to color her hair or get crazy hair cuts”
    Yikes – are we back in the 1950’s? Let her spend – My girl? Well anyway,

    I have 3 sisters and 3 daughters – all hardworking professionals (sisters all juggle kids and jobs). All will tell you very clearly that (like it or not) there is a professional “look”. If they want to be competitive, and at times even accepted by their peers and bosses they have to look a certain way. That includes haircuts, and for some highlights and color. And as my wife reminded me, those folks running companies with the “gray” hair pay a fortune to have that Gray look so nice

  43. H Tex says:

    Actually, that seems about right to me. It major urban areas you can pay a whole lot more to go see a good stylist for a cut and color. I spend $65 with tip for a haircut every six to eight weeks. I’m a client facing professional and its important I look professional, so its important I get a good cut. It is also not an option for me to grow my hair out or cut it myself to reduce my hair expense

    It sounds like your conversation put things into perspective – let her decide what to do next. People value different things and spend money on what they value. She obviously values her apperance so to her it may be worth spending more in this area.

  44. Ann says:

    I agree that it depends if this is her “one major indulgence” or “one of many.” I personally spend $100 for a color and cut twice a year (actually just blonde highlights that grow out slowly over time) and $50 for just a cut every 7 weeks during the rest of the year. I love my hairdresser and always feel more confident when I look good. My husband says he “doesn’t want to know.” I work outside the home and contribute to the family income, and this is something I think I deserve. Anything else I buy beauty-wise (manicures, makeup) comes out of my weekly spending/latte factor allowance ($30).

    Remember, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! ;)

  45. Vicky says:

    On color: Seriously, this is what she needs to do. Go over to walgreens.com and order one of the ColorSpa Moisture Actif No Ammonia/Non-Permanent colors. It’s not “permanent”, which makes some women think it won’t work, but: it lasts 6 weeks, she’s dying her hair every 6 weeks, so it is -effectively- permanent. Non-permanent packages like this one, especially those without ammonia, have almost none of the side effects of permanent color. Plus, if you’re unhappy with the results it’s at most a 6 week mistake. I have been using one of the red shades for about 4 years now.

    On styling: I get my hair cut about once every 3 months. I go to a full-service day spa – the kind where they bring you wine and a robe and slippers and everything if you so choose. A wash, cut, blow-dry, and style normally comes in just under $90. If I bring my box color in they will happily apply it for me when I am getting my hair cut. I could spend less for a cut, but while I’m there I like to get my eyebrows done and maybe my nails, and if I wanted I could get a facial or a massage, so really it’s my quarterly “girl time.”

  46. Zooey says:

    $200 for a cut and color is about right, but I reached the point where I just couldn’t bear to fork over $200/month for it (and I am a single woman with a comfortable six-figure income). I live in San Francisco and now get my hair done at a very good, local, Paul-Mitchell-partner cosmetology school. All told, my cut and color (including highlights or two shades of color) cost $60 with tip included. I was a little worried about quality at first, but professional instructors and hair stylists watch and advise the students, and approve everything they do beforehand. I have never had a bad experience, and I’m saving more than $1,000/year.

  47. annie b says:

    I spend £50 every 6-8 weeks just for a haircut. I have short hair and finding someone who can cut it (and doesn’t end with me looking like an upside down bowl) is priceless. I work and am completely comfortable with this hair budget. And if I ever have to share a budget with someone else, I can’t imagine leaving this out even if it has to come out of my own personal savings.

  48. Ashley says:

    Is there another hair salon around that has different prices? I don’t color my hair, but my mom does, and it costs around $70 each time for cut and color. (Which I still think is crazy, but hey, not my money). She goes every 6 weeks as well. I can’t imagine why it would cost $200 every single time. The hair dye must be mixed with gold!

  49. GLM says:

    Your wife won’t like this . I am admit I am frugal.Just bought 2 boxes of Loreal Hair color for $5.89 – BOGO sale with a good coupon.I clip coupons and watch for sales. I mix two colors for apropriate highlights. Yes I have been doing it for years – sence our salad days and now paying somone to do it seems so wasteful.We could afford it – I’d rather buy shoes.

    The 2 boxes will do one total head treatment and 4 touchups – good for about 30-40 weeks

    If I get a new style I’d go to a hairdresser. I’ve moved a lot and tried hair cuts from $12 to $180 (Inflation adjusted) Price does not seem to determine how good the cut is so I don’t sweat it too much any more . Normally I trim my own hair or my now 22 year old daughter does. (she had a lot of practice in her sorority)

  50. scribbleSF says:

    i wish i could get my hair done more often as it starts to fade and grow out in between. i usually try to hold out but end up getting it done every 3 months. my cut and color is about $210. i have thick hair and my stylist/colorist does a fantastic job. i have been going to her for years and it is great to know that she will modify my look every now and then and i can relax and know it will be great. the first 3-4 weeks after i have my hair done people comment on it all the time.

    i used to use over the counter stuff and the color was kind of flat, sometimes off, sometimes a little weird – although i have to say that hair color has come a long, long way. as i said, i have a lot of hair and made a big mess. i stained the sink, shower curtain, towels, the rug and sometimes my ears and edges of my face. :) i even got my partner to do it. i would offer to get some beer and threaten to go spend a bundle. after a few times he had a whole new insight.

    even he thinks it’s worth it.

  51. Sybursu says:

    I think it is positively ridiculous. Pay for a good cut, but color your hair yourself–unless you are a blonde. If you are a brunette use Clariol’s Easy Care (covers gray). It’s simple to use. Once you establish which color you like it is so simple. I use medium brown and many hairdressers have said the color is great! My husband earns six figures plus, but I just could NEVER waste money on having a hairdresser color my hair. Of course, I am not a high maintenance person. However, if money is no object–then no problem. At $10 a pop or less for hair dye, why not bank the money with interest. I also use nails from Walgreens for $5.69 a pop and save on manicures.

    Sybursu/Las Vegas

  52. Elissa says:

    I spend between $50-$70 about 2-3 times a year for a cut/style/blow-dry. I don’t color my hair, but I’ve been going to the same stylist for the past two years.

  53. Anna says:

    Forget it – $150 a month is nothing. I pay $200 every 6 weeks for a cut and color. I pay $50 a month for nails and waxing. Then add in my twice weekly Pilates classes for $25 a shot. My cosmetics run about $750 a year (have you ever lived without Creme de la Mer – I would rather starve). I tell my husband a face lift and lipo is much more expensive … he shouldn’t complain. Besides, I feel GREAT and he likes the way I look.

  54. About once a year I spend $200 cut and color, and that’s occassionally not every year. I cut about 2x year for $40. DH spends more than I do in haircuts every 3 weeks for $20. So he’s gotta spend $300/year.

    But I used to get mani/pedis in CA for about $30 every 2 weeks. Where we live now it’s ridiculously expensive. So I do it every 3-4 months.

  55. Tena says:

    When I was younger I never did anything to my hair other than a simple hair cut every few months. I also wore very little make-up.

    Now I get a haircut about every 6 weeks for about $45-50. I also get coloring and highlights every couple of months, maybe three and the cost is approximately $150. I have red hair and it fades faster than others so sometimes I will go more often. Every three to four weeks I go to get my brows waxed and a manicure and that cost is $50.

    In the years since I began adding these services, I’ve considered letting go of all of them other than haircut and coloring. But as a woman, once you see how much better you look with them, it is very difficult to consider not making it a priority.

  56. FrugalBabe says:

    In 29 years, I have never colored my hair. I’ve never highlighted it or permed it. I use a shampoo that I get at a health food store for about $10 (it’s a small bottle, and quite a bit more expensive than major store brands, but every ingredient comes from a plant or is something that I recognize – no chemicals at all). There is no freaking way I would put all sorts of chemicals on my head every 6 weeks.

    I blow dry my hair about once a month, if I have somewhere special to be. I don’t use curling irons or straighteners. Avoiding all these hair products means that my hair is always soft and healthy looking, and I only need trims every 3 or 4 months. The more you mess with your hair, the more work it will need to recover from all the crap you do to it.

    I consider $200 every 6 weeks to be ridiculous. But I also consider a lot of stuff people spend their money on to be ridiculous. We’re all different, that’s what makes life interesting. Overall, I’d say it comes down to whether you can afford it. If you’re paying cash for the hair upkeep, and not in any sort of consumer debt, and putting at least 10% of your income away each month, then have at it with the expensive hair stuff. But if you’re in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, or trying to save for something important (like a house or going back to school), then you can’t afford $200 to get your hair done. Same as with any non-essential expense (and we all need to routinely revisit what “essential expenses” really are).

  57. LB in OK says:

    Ya know, maybe it’s because I live in south central Oklahoma, but I’ve never spent more than $100 in my 43 years of life for any treatment I’ve had done to my hair, including the days of the big-hair perms in the ’80’s.

    I too have nearly always colored my own hair via the OTC method. I am not professionally trained, but I have been able to copy the mysterious techniques of the masters by observing them, and by reading the directions on the box. And as mentioned above, having an extra set of hands also helps when applying color to the back. (hint, hint, hubby)

    L’Oreal makes great color products. And on the few times I have had a professional color my hair or do my highlights, I noticed that they were using the same L’Oreal products that I had been buying from the Beauto Co. or Sallly stores. Interesting. Nonetheless, my 6-8 week hair cut & blow dry charges currently run $25-$30 (and that includes brow waxing and tip!)

    I honestly do feel that your wife’s self-esteem is priceless, and to compare her grooming costs to yours is probably never going to be an equitable analysis. Comparing a couple’s spending costs for items that each partner “feels” is a “necessary” expendature would be fairer. Then perhaps her grooming costs might be matched up against, say your recreational costs for fishing or golf. Would that be a closer match of spending per month? Just a thought….

  58. Kate says:

    I am 25 years old and am into looking nice as much as the next gal. However, I hardly spend any money at all on beauty stuff! I get my hair cut probably 3 times a year at cheapy places. I do not color. I buy drugstore makeup and it lasts months and months. I do not buy special products or potions. I consider all of this a waste of money and only do the bare minimum, I still look nice though!

    However, I know when I am older it will cost more to look nice. I will have to color up the greys but I will use at-home kits. I will get a hair style that does not require much cutting but I know I won’t be able to wear it half way down my back anymore.

    I just feel this is one of those places I can save money because no one will know the difference!

  59. DivaJean says:

    I have colored my hair from age 19 through age 37. I am now 41. I gave up on coloring because it is just too pricey to have it done frequently enough to look right. After I gave in to the coloring equation, I have since given into the cutting/styling equation.

    I get my hair trimmed up at SuperCuts maybe 3 or 4 times a year. I trim my own bangs if they get too crazy. My ultimate goal is to have my hair long enough to wear in a big, fat braid down my back in salt & pepper glory. There’s this really cool hippie chick professor that rides my bus to & from work who has hair like this. So cool I want to be like her when I grow up…

  60. Callie says:

    Egads! $200 every six weeks on hair?! I would never be able to bring myself to do that. There are definitely other options. If you use the store colors and do not want the frizzy just maintain hot oil treatments once a week. This will keep her hair unfrizzy and shiny. Stipping color and re-dying it is really bad for your hair too and will make it even more frizzy, so if she makes a bad choice in color she should just live with it.
    I’m pretty low maintenance though, I never understood women who spend money like that. I get my hair cut once every six months, and I never spend more than $40.

  61. NatalieMac says:

    Hair-color-in-a-box from the drug store is low-quality and often causes damage to the hair, has unpredictable results, and is difficult for a hair salon to remove and repair. If you have the means, it’s worth it to pay for a salon to use professional products and dye your hair.

    $200 for cut and color is on the high end of what I would expect to pay, but it doesn’t seem outrageous. I pay about $120 for cut and highlights, but luckily I don’t need the highlights every six weeks – they last longer than color. Still, it’s hard to find a decent woman’s hair cut much below $50 or $60, where men have no trouble finding a great hair cut under $20. Hmph. You’d probably be able to save $50-$60 on each visit by shopping around at different salons, but sometimes you get so attached to your stylist and trust them and it’s hard to try someone new.

  62. vh says:

    Look at all the older women with frizzy, frazzled hair. Know what causes that? The chemicals in hair dyes and perms. I never dye or permanent my hair because I don’t want to end up looking like that.

    But I am old and a few strands of silver are starting to show. That doesn’t bother me–I’m not trying to hide who and what I am. However, about six months ago I decided that letting my hair fall halfway down my back probably left onlookers wondering what I was trying to prove. So, I had a very talented stylist cut my long hair, donated the stuff, and got a short, extremely cute, curly, no-hassle hairstyle.

    What with the tip, the visits to the stylist cost me about $70 every six or seven weeks, a far cry from the $0-point-0-0 for the Rapunzel locks. Is it worth it? And how! Folks waiting counters and operating cash registers no longer look down their noses at me–suddenly strangers smile and treat me like a live human being. Do I care what shallow people think of me? You betcha.

  63. Mary says:

    For anyone who’s coloring their hair red, you should look into doing it with henna. There’s tons of information on the Henna for Hair page (http://www.hennaforhair.com).

    I’m not going gray, but my natural color is extremely mousy – sort of half blond/half brown, translucent and washed out. I used the henna procedure in March and the color is still a vibrant auburn. It’s very flattering and the roots barely show. And the whole process left my hair feeling strong and silky, not crispy like it’d been processed with chemicals. I’m getting ready to do the whole thing again here in about a week.

    Even better, the cost of the henna and other materials was under $20.

  64. B O says:

    Tell her to go grey. I had a mutant recessive gene and starting going white when I was 16 and was totally white by the time I was thirty. (I had it frosted while going white.)After my 2 kids were born, (mid-thirties for me), I went back to work, so I got my haircut short and my husband called me by my mom’s name when he came home from work. So, that was the beginning of me getting my haircolored. I tried doing it my self at home but it was a mess, got on everything besides my hair, and because I wear glasses, I really couldn’t see if I got all the hair colored. Not only that, if you re-colored what you have already colored, then that part is darker than the roots! Now I am 56 and have had most of the dyed color cut out of my hair. I am done with it! I was so desperate to get the color out of my hair after growing it for 3 months that I went to 3 different hair salons to get it cut over a period of 5 days in one week. None of them wanted to cut my hair because it still had color in it and it would look funny. Well, I can’t begin to tell you how close I was to getting a BUZZCUT! It’s short now and it still has some color in it but it is not as bad. I have a friend with short hair who’s stylist does an excellent job in coloring and cutting her hair short. So I am still contemplating after 3 cuts just 3 weeks ago about getting my haircut very, very short so that all the color is gone once and for all! Oh, and by the way, yes, I too, paid for one time highlights, (so I could begin by journey of going grey or white in my case), a cut, shampoo, blowdry and style, with purchase of 1 product. Cost: with tip, $200.00 yep, that’s right, $200.00 and it was at my sister-in-law’s salon with a family discount. I can’t afford those prices!

  65. […] Silicon Valley Blogger gives some advice on how to cut hair costs. If only this was an acceptable solution to my wife’s pricey hair budget. […]

  66. Jen says:

    I’m all for spending money when it will makes someone feel better and more confident about themselves but 200 is MUCH too much.

    I am very frugal and spend about 60 dollars getting my hair colored. I was getting it done every 6 weeks and now wait longer (3 months). But I don’t have gray yet, that would change things. I go to a less expensive place but still love my hair.

    I would say ditch the ‘name brand salons’ and search for a more reasonable place. Highlights also cost much more than regular coloring. I know for some people it’s about the ‘experience’ and not necesarily the result. But 200 every 6 weeks is alot.

    Hair cuts are capped at 15 bucks for me. In college, I used to wait for supercuts coupons (they exist) and get it for 6 bucks. I have gotten 6 dollar hair cuts and 50 dollar hair cuts and there is NO difference unless you are getting some freakishly complex haircut and I hardly ever see anyone out and about with those.

  67. Megan says:

    I know that $200 is much, uless you’re living somewhere like NYC.. then perhapes that resonable. There ARE cheaper hair salons, and if you feel its a problem, say something.. tell her yo don’t mind spending the money on her.. it’s just a lot of money, to give away avery 6 weeks that you could be investing in your future together.. be nice, but be a man and tell her your opinion.

  68. Marie says:

    I am a light brunette naturally. I decided to try to highlight my hair once myself and it turned out a very ugly red and I irritated my forehead. Had to go to a professional salon to get it fixed. I had light brown and blond highlights in it so it grew out without too much of a significant root. So I had it natural for a few years afterward. Then I decided to get some highlights for a change. Went to this one salon it was $140 for a cut and color. She did a good job. Then I decided to go to this other salon where they only charged $100 to save money. My scalp got all crusty and was irritated for a whole month. I was also now a blonde instead of a light brunette with subtle blond high light which made me have to go again a month later because of the showing root. What I would recommend as an alternative is keep going to a good salon. Get brown and blond highlights so you only need to go every 3 months. If you have gray hair showing through in the mean time they sell these coloring pens make up for hair that covers gray in different colors. Use that for in btw colors. You need to look professional yes, but beeing blonde is time consuming and expensive. So it all depends on personal priority.

  69. […] Man and Money writes about his wife’s hair care expenses in Women: What is your Hair Budget? posted at Lazy Man and Money. I’m a low-maintenance girl, I’ve never done anything to […]

  70. Yvette says:

    It sure can get expensive keeping up your appearance! I try and save money by purchasing the at home kits for highlighting. However, I’ve learned you should have some sort of experience or you may be very dissapointed. I was devastated by the results. It may be worth spending the money for professional results.

  71. felicia says:

    I,have my daughters friend cut my hair or go to cost cutters once every 6 months.
    Also let you wife know salon colorists will often say they are using permanent hair color when in actuality it is not this way it fades out quicker and you have to keep returning.
    Try loreal preference or loreal excellence
    from the drug store both are superior.About 8.-10.00 dollars a kit.

  72. Anonymous says:

    $200 seems so expensive. Why don’t you buy the stuff and learn how to do it yourself. Sure there’s skill involved, but just think of the payback – $200 every 6 weeks and that’s not counting what you could charge her friends.

  73. […] does what he does best… take something like hair dye and make it interesting (and not like I tried). In the 1950's it was very taboo for women to dye their hair. Shirley Polykoff made Clairol famous […]

  74. eugene says:

    Oh God my wife is driving me crazy about her hair, she spends about 200 bucks every 5 weeks in hair salon. I tried to find something cheaper but she is not satisfied with “quality”. I thing $200 is too much and we always have a little war every month

  75. Kathy McDermott says:

    I get mine trimmed by my boyfriend. Mine is about to the top of my bra strap. He always does a great job and I get a lot of compliments on it. I have told a few friends and I have got mixed responses. A couple friends think it is so cool that he does it for me (saves me big bucks & no bad haircuts) and others think it is a bit strange. He also french braids it for me too before he takes me for rides on his motorcycle. At first my mom told me it was controlling of him to cut it, but she has told me he gives a nice haircut, and hinted that maybe he should cut hers, but he has politely declined. He thinks it might be too much drama.

  76. Asha says:

    I spend $8 a month to color my roots, and it looks good. The secret is buying hair color at the health food store, and trying the various natural options until you find one that works well for you. They don’t make your hair frizzy. A box costs $16 with tax, and I can dye my roots twice with each box. It probably doesn’t look as perfect as a salon treatment, but honestly, nobody is going to notice that but me. Going to a salon is certainly more fun, but there are just too many things I’d rather do with that money.

  77. Erin says:

    I am nearly 100 per cent gray. Part is pure white….the rest is salt and pepper. I am not one of those women who will look beautiful in long gray or white hair. I hate spending $200 every five or six weeks. When I went to cheaper places, I got yellow or red hair. I wish there was a school closer to me so I could get cheaper rates. My mom was lucky. She had naturally dark hair that never went completely gray . She would shampoo in Loving Care (a temporary hair color Clairol used to make). It was cheap and wonderful. I think there are products like that today, but they won’t work if you are all gray. Oh, well, enough complaining.

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