What Would You Do (Client Edition): Is It Rude To Ask My Stylist To Breakdown Pricing?
Client’s Question: Is It Rude To Ask For Pricing Breakdown?
While BTC is a community for licensed hair professionals and students, we do love putting ourselves in the clients’ shoes (or capes 😉) for a minute. One client reached out to us to ask if her experiences with her stylist were normal—and whether she would be rude to ask for a pricing breakdown. What do you think? Keep reading to see what your fellow stylists (and another client!) had to say!
“Hi, please keep me anonymous, I am a client. I’m hoping your stylists that follow you can help me. Is it considered rude to ask my stylist for a breakdown of my services? What I’m paying for? I love how she does my hair but I see how many bottles of color I’m being charged for and shouldn’t that be a part of the service? I asked the front desk, they’re really nice but I didn’t understand what they told me. I used to go to a salon that just charged for color and I never had things like ‘how many bottles of color’ listed like this…am I being overcharged? Thank you again if you post my question, please don’t use my name, I’m sure my stylist follows this page.”
Yes, It’s Rude—You Should Trust Your Stylist
“Prices are determined by what you’re asking for. Color, highlights, cut, styling, etc., and if you want highlights and cut and style. Depends on technique, time, thickness of hair, etc. We as stylists spend many years learning techniques, the tools we use are expensive and products are used to give you the best service! If you trust your stylist and she is educated and is giving you what you want, then why question it?
We don’t go to a store and buy a box color or highlighting kit…we design a formula just for you…we apply that formula with technical skills. We cut with skills and style with special techniques…usually it takes two to three hours. I have a question for you? When you go out to eat at a restaurant, do you ask how much the food they just prepared costs? Probably not…hopefully you understand we are artists and spend a lot of years learning and perfecting our skills!” – Becky Mullen-Roth
“If she shows you the breakdown, is it going to make you love your hair more or less? It’s not an oil change on your car. This time, the stylist may need a 4 oz. retouch and next time a 6 oz. retouch, but both times she charged you the same. Was one a bargain or was the other a rip-off? Cut me a break! Stylists aren’t making $45 on your $50 single process. Even if they were, why is that any of your business? Go to the drugstore and buy your color and do it yourself for $7.95. Let me know how that works out for you. Especially when you don’t understand how much science I put into your hair that you have not one clue I’m doing.” – Amy Pellegrino
“Yes, it’s rude to ask. Each time you visit your hairstylist, the price could be different. Ask for a price before she starts so you’re not surprised at the cash. She’s charging based on her time, product, talent and God-given right as a stylist. Ask for transparency. A good stylist will always give you an approximate price before starting. BUT remember, if you’re questioning her, she may turn around and not book you in the future. Be prepared for worst case scenario. Clients that question me on pricing are not clients that I want. I’m fair, honest and never take advantage, so if my clients don’t know that about me by now I break my ties with them. Good luck! – @laura.01.11.11
“We are hairstylists…we don’t do this for a hobby people…we do this for a living…a professional, trained, work your ass off living!!! Sorry if I come off rude, but do you ask your dentist, gyno, regular doctor or the restaurant you eat at for a breakdown on their services? Please don’t be rude. We work hard, same as everyone else…we provide a service that should be respected just as anyone else’s. Just my opinion…if you want your hair done, please be willing to pay for it…if you’re getting a bad service I understand. But if you’re getting a quality service, I find it rude to ask for the breakdown…you pay for a stylist’s PROFESSIONAL services and time. Shouldn’t have to be broken down into specifics about how much it costs. Prices are always going to go up because the cost of living goes up for us, same as everyone else.” – @cosmogerl1982
“I would fire you if you asked me for a breakdown. I would never cheat a client. I have a waitlist, you would be ✖️” – @ginajoubert
“It’s not rude to ask your stylist, but it’s rude to tell her she’s overpaid if you don’t agree with a reasonable response.🤷🏼♀️ I’m always willing to break down pricing to a client, but I will fire a client who doesn’t respect my explanation of product used and time spent. If you’re going to ask, be open to receiving their answer.” – @sarahdeey
“You also have to factor in rent, insurance, electric, water, etc., which cannot possibly be broken down to each client.” – @sjconfer
No, It’s Not Rude—Your Stylist Should Provide A Breakdown If Asked
“Here’s the thing: you’re not just paying for the bottles of color. You’re paying for the thousands of dollars in education it took to learn the techniques used. You’re paying for hundreds of hours of experience to execute those techniques. You’re paying for the artistic ability of your stylist. That’s not even touching overhead. That said, I do offer itemized invoices to those who request them. This is an absolutely valid question and I’m so glad it was asked, because there’s so much more than just bottles of color when it comes to service costs!” – Amanda Babb
“It never bothers me letting my clients know and educating them how and why the things that I’m doing because it makes them feel better. Also, as a stylist, it makes you more educated and they look up to you doing their hair more than someone who can’t give them a reason what they’re charging them for. Giving your clients a breakdown of everything you’re doing may be exhausting but it’s respectful, and in the end, they’ll be a loyal client because they know what they’re getting and why they’re getting it. I love educating my clients. It’s part of the job.” – @_nikksplace_
“Any person or salon who would not itemize pricing, at least or especially on request, has something to hide. Pricing transparency builds trust. Secrets do not. For the people who have the small client base who won’t care or will pay whatever charged, do what you like, just don’t rationalize or justify if asked. Please, we beg you: no client wants to hear or cares about your learning investment costs unless the work stinks. Then your pricing’s gonna come into question.” – @chez_nn
No, It’s Not Rude—And She Should Be Covering Price In The Consultation Anyway
“One salon I worked for had a great system for this. As we were giving the consultation (whether for a new client or someone we saw every 6 weeks), we had a clipboard where we would mark each thing we’d be charging our client for (including extra time or product due to length or thickness). The client reviewed it and signed it before we began the service so there was no surprise at checkout. This may not work with every case, especially color corrections where you may not know what you’re getting into, but for the majority of clients it was great.” – Erin Locke
“As a stylist and a former business owner, I would never charge in a way that states ‘how many bottles of color’ are being used. This is where a length and/or density charge comes into play. All of which should be discussed in a consult. You aren’t wrong at all for questioning this…” – Crystal Lowe
“I usually break it down, and using the Square app, everything is itemized. Root touch-up is the usual price. If I need to pull color to the ends, that is going to be more. More product, more time. Highlights will be additional. For cash clients, I can write a receipt. Salons are not a buffet—one price for endless color.” – Neil Mason
“You were absolutely entitled to do that. Every hairstylist should have a thorough consultation with every single client, every single time they sit in the chair. A breakdown of prices should be given at that time. You were not being rude at all!” – Kathleen Crosby Owens
“The client has no knowledge of how much product costs versus quality and I feel that showing/telling them how many bottles of color were used is tacky. A client should be told UP FRONT how much they will be charged–if they are unfamiliar or they inquire. And a stylist should be able to look at the hair and know how much product will be needed. If a client has tons of hair, or a correction has to be done there will be a price difference for sure, but again that is something that should be shared UP FRONT, during the consult. 9/10 the client already knows if they have a lot of hair or a botched color and will require extra time/ product. And yes, as a client you have every right to ask what you are paying for. Nothing worse than being shocked when you go to check out–it can completely erase a fantastic salon experience and cause them to lose trust. If the stylist stands by their work and charges accordingly, they will have no problem being forthcoming about pricing. I’d rather have a client get out of my chair during the consult because she/he doesn’t feel good about my price than have them blast my salon or myself on social media because they feel they have been bamboozled. This is why a complete consultation is so important, even with return clients.” – @lovemetalmitch
No, It’s Not Rude—And Here Are Ideas For How To Explain Pricing
“I think the best practice is to make sure every person that sits in your chair be offered a quote before they spend the money, putting out two to three service options and recommendations during the consultation. It should be their choice BEFORE the service. I have seen some answers on here that are not very client-friendly and quite arrogant actually. We really ought to be grateful that someone is sitting in our chair deciding to spend their hard-earned money with us. Not giving them a price quote is not only unprofessional, it can give them sticker shock. Just my 2 cents and is policy in our salon. ❤️✂️” – @mandyjo1973
“Your stylist is not very professional in my opinion. I write on a sticky note exactly what I am charging the client for. It would look something like this:
Base price balayage $135
+ medium density $20
+ long length $20
+ haircut and blowout $70
I make sure they agree to that amount before starting the service. Sometimes I include products I think they need. I charge an hourly rate for corrective, which I would break down for them with an estimated range of time. This is absolutely my standard practice for 16 years. I am appalled that a stylist would not do this. Clients should know exactly what they are being charged for.” – @prerecordedlife
“As a stylist, I make sure to say my prices during consult. For example, ‘Starting bleach and tone is $155, and if I have to mix up any extra color, its $20 per bowl. I’ll keep you posted on how many bowls I’ve used. Judging by what we’re doing today, I’d say about X amount of money. Does that sound ok to you?’ Usually we see if it’s in the budget, but if it’s something wild, I would’ve already done a consult before booking and already have told them what to expect.” – Naomi Rincon
“I think a service should be broken down into:
- The stylist’s knowledge and ability to provide the service.
- The cost of color.
The amount of color ounces your hair requires should not deduct from what the stylist’s ability warrants they make. An electrician charges by the hour and cost of supply. Why are we any different?” – Taralyn Rose
“Maybe assemble on a table and take a pic of what products it takes and how much time it takes to do a Level 6 color with highlights on three heads of hair.
- A pixie cut with no grey, Level 5
- A shoulder-length bob, Level 3 with some grey, thick hair, highlights need a toner
- Long hair, super thick with lots of grey, needs a deep conditioner and lowlights, plus a toner
Ask yourself as a client: if you are the woman with the pixie cut and no grey, would you like to be quoted the same price as the long-haired client who needs three times as many products and time? Or would you like to be charged according to the less time and money your service takes? After all, you all want the same thing: to be a dark blonde with highlights. Should it be the same price for all three? The price is $150 plus cut for that (example). Do you feel OK with that as the pixie cut lady who uses the least amount of product and time to achieve that?” – @lisamarierandles
“It’s likely that those bottles come with the extra time used to apply them. I show my client their ticket after every color and explain to them exactly where every dollar went, including the extra bowls that included extra time. I also tell them an estimate ahead of time, including an educated guess in regards to total product required. It’s been a good system so far, and lets them tell me ahead of time what their budget is. If what they initially wanted is too spendy, then we have the perfect opportunity to modify our plan!” – @candy__creep__
“Pricing is determined by cost of product, time spent, rent (if you pay it) and years of education and experience. I heard Picasso was once asked to do a quick drawing for someone and when he asked for compensation the person said, ‘But it only took you a few minutes!’ and he said, ‘It actually took me 40 years!’” – @eveningemerald79
Another Client’s Perspective…
“I like this question because Instagram is flooded right now with posts showing $800-$1000 sessions by stylists. As much as I understand it was probably worth that amount, and stylists have their right to charge whatever they feel is fair for their time (and education), it’s scary for clients because we have no idea walking in what it will cost. Most stylists (in my area) won’t even give you an estimate over the phone or even during a consultation. They say it depends on how I lift or other issues they may run into. I definitely understand how it depends on that, but what if I think I’m going to be paying $300-$400 and at the end she charges me $900? With no communication, it’s terrifying. I wish there was more transparency with pricing. If you tell your client, ‘My base price for my time per hour is this. Then add how much color/bleach which is x per bottle. I estimate 4 bottles, but could be more. Then add style at the end, x amount,’ that would be better for everyone. That way no one feels how this client feels—overcharged.” – @micayla_micayla_micayla