Balayage and Ombré: How Much Should You Charge?
Balayage and ombré are highly requested services—so make sure you’re charging appropriately! We quizzed our BTC Community, as well as BTC’s resident balayage expert Jamie Sea (@prettylittleombre), on the dos and don’ts of balayage and ombré pricing. Here are their expert answers.
Time Will Tell
A number of salon owners are in favor of charging based on the time a color service takes versus a set fee. Here’s what they said.
- “Technique doesn’t determine my cost. I stopped doing ‘partials’ and ‘full heads’—but I do charge an additional fee if more product is required,” – Carrie McDonald Vick, England’s Hair Design in Nashville, TN
- “If someone comes in with fine, thin hair and it takes me an hour for color, cut and style, I charge differently than for someone who takes me two hours. It doesn’t matter what the service is.” – Hope Wise, Hitchcock House in Aiken, SC
- “I create all highlights AND lowlights with balayage, and my pricing is also based on time. I charge $275 for partial highlights, $350 for full-head highlights and apply a $30 add-on charge for lowlights.” – Min Kim, L’Oréal Professionnel Artist and Master Color Specialis at Butterfly Studio Salon in New York
Jamie prices her balayage as much as 35 percent higher than her starting full highlight price. “For me, this price includes glossing, bond builder and a finishing style, plus all the educational components my guest needs to recreate the look at home.”
Charging a fixed fee that clients are made aware of at the time of booking can save any confusion when they come to settle their account, but be sure to set the pricing correctly. At Méche Salon in Beverly Hills, celebrity colorist Dawn Tracey says balayage is charged the same as traditional highlights, starting at $250 for a full head. “If the client just requests a base color, the price starts at $125, and if they want highlighting or balayage, they are charged an add-on price of $125,” she explains.
At Anthony Cristiano’s Salon in Chicago, the price for balayage starts at $250. As a general rule, balayage expert Becky Janopoulos prices her balayage color services at 25 percent more than full-head highlights, because it is an advanced color technique. Also, the service menu at Anthony Cristiano’s lists balayage as $250+, to account for any additional fees incurred by services such as toning and glazing or for clients with exceptionally long hair.
Similarly, Jessica Gomez of Bubbles Salon in Sterling, VA charges $70 for partial, standard highlights, $90 for a full-head highlight for balayage and $130 for ombré.
A Creative Color Charge
Introduce a ‘Creative Color Charge’ into your salon like Jen Tyson from NYC State of Mind in San Antonio, TX. She explains: “My ‘Creative Color Charge’ covers techniques such as ombré, balayage or a fashion color.” By doing this, clients know they are getting a special service, and will expect to pay more for the privilege.
Balayage and ombré are specialized techniques that not every stylist has been trained to do. With this in mind, some salon owners advise setting your price point higher to account for the skill and attention to detail that goes into providing these color services. If you are considering this option and decide to price higher than your competition, ensure you have a point of difference to justify the increases. Wendy Mitchell-Weinheimer from Hair Plus Salon and Spa in Clyde, OH, says: “This technique is an art form; you need to possess the skill-set to be able to give your client the right amount of depth to the hair, as well as the ability to properly place lightness near the face.”
Patrick Rogers from Medusa Salon in Brooklyn, NY, agrees, saying: “I charge more because these are techniques that not everyone can do, that I have spent countless hours learning, so I don’t want to just give it away.”
How to Talk to Your Clients About Balayage Pricing
Unsure of how to explain the higher price tag on balayage and ombré services? Here’s some advice from Jamie.
When discussing pricing with a guest, educate them on why this service is ideal for them. Explain…
- that balayage lasts a lot longer than traditional foiling applications.
- that they get a customized, low-maintenance color that suits their skin tone and lifestyle.
- that you’ll help them keep their hair healthy with products that are best for them.
“You must present this information with confidence and kindness,” says Jamie. And for those of you who are nervous about charging more for balayage? “Think about all the individual artistry this technique involves,” advises Jamie. “How many classes have you invested in to become better at balayage? How many times have you practiced when you weren’t on the clock? Take all of this into consideration when you hesitate to charge what you are worth. You are an artist—a trained professional. Never under-charge.”