michele@mbenza.com

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Never Underestimate the Inpact Value of a Great Haircut

My longtime friend, Valerie, recently wrote to me and shared her frustration about having just received a disastrous haircut.
She’d decided to scale back on haircuts and went to a hair stylist who was more than half the price of her usual stylist, a co-owner of a prestigious New York salon. The added cost of not only tipping her wonderful stylist, but also the people who washed and blow-dried her hair, made going to the salon too prohibitive. Unfortunately her good economic intentions backfired horribly.
As Valerie said, she learned an expensive lesson! It really does not pay to skimp on such an important expenditure as a haircut. Admittedly, they can be pricey. In San Francisco they range anywhere from $25 to $250 and in New York City, according to a recent article in the New York Times, March 5, Style Section, prices are can go as high as $550.
I decided to check in with Barbara Blum, the salon manager of diPietro Todd (downtown San Francisco) to find out how the economy is affecting the salon business. Barbara acknowledged that even though the beauty business has been affected by the economy, many people view getting their hair done in a salon and maintaining it at home to be a high priority and consider hair care to be a necessity rather than a luxury. “They want to look good in order to feel good in these stressful times,” she added.
With regard to tipping Barbara said, “People are extremely varied in their tipping habits--from very little to very generous, and this holds true even now. The standard is still about 15-20% regardless of the price of the service. Most people tip assistants between $5-10 depending on how much work they did.” She added that color and blow dry assistants are usually tipped on the higher side because their tasks require more skill in comparison to that of the person who shampoos hair.
Personally, I believe tipping should be given according to your level of gratitude rather than according to a specific percentage.

To be sure, for most of us having a bad haircut is very frustrating for many reasons, not the least of which is that hair takes such a long time to grow out. We should keep Valerie’s experience in mind and not skimp on such an essential expense. I know how difficult this is to justify in these hard economic times, but remember our face is our best asset as it is what others see first.
Here are some tips to help stretch your dollars when it comes to hair care.
1. If you have a brilliant hairstylist who works magic on your hair, lengthen the time between visits. A great cut should last longer. Go every seven weeks to ten weeks instead of every six weeks. Calculate the difference that makes to your budget. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

2. If you wear bangs, have them trimmed between visits. A bang trim can refresh an entire haircut and is usually free if you’re a regular.

3. Consider becoming a hair model. Upscale salons often look for models. If you decide to go this route, make sure the apprentice is about to graduate. Haircuts by soon-to-be graduated hair stylists are about $30. A substantial saving in comparison to the usual $100 (excluding tips) for a good cut.

4. When glancing through magazines, cut out pictures of great haircuts, show them to your hair stylist and explain what you like about the haircuts. This will help your hair stylist understand better what you want. She/he can then explain the pros and cons based on your hair type and facial features.

5. Consider growing out your short haircut a bit. Short hair needs to be trimmed more often whereas longer hair needs less maintenance.

6. If you color your hair, use a shampoo created for color-treated hair. The mild formula will enhance your color, making it last a lot longer. Don't wash your hair for at least 30 hours after your hair has been colored, as the color needs time to set.

7. Wash your hair with a good shampoo. Expensive shampoos generally are thicker and contain less water therefore you need to use less than a regular brand.

8. Invest in one of the new ionic hair dryers like the HAI Tourmaline Ionic Dryer that finish drying hair in record time. Not only do they save you time in the morning, but they also cut down on heat exposure to your hair, and thus are less damaging.
9. Ask your hairstylist to teach you how to style your hair more effectively on a day-to-day basis. Some hair salons provide classes on how to blow-dry and style your hair.

So be good to your hair! After all, it is a vital part of your look and can create a great impression. Again, a good haircut combined with the use of high quality hair products can make those visits to your favorite stylist less frequent.

Finally, remember that good health and an optimistic attitude add immeasurably to your beauty.

Bon courage!
Michele

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