Did Allure Go Too Far?
In the March issue of Allure magazine, this colum was addressed to hairstylists:
An Open Letter
Dear Fancy Salons That Charge for Blowouts After Coloring Our Hair,
First of all, you make our hair look great. And we totally dig the extra-long head massage. But what’s up with this new charge for blowouts after we get our hair colored? If someone is willing to spend hundreds of dollars on the services, hasn’t that person also paid for the privilege of walking outside with dry hair?
We know you say that it requires another person to work on our hair. Bu there’s the thing: Restaurants don’t charge extra when the waiter grates Parmesan over our penne. Bars don’t have a bill for the vodka and another for the tonic. Not to put too fine a point on it: It’s obnoxious. And more than that, it’s bad marketing (considering no one will appreciate the great hair color if the blowout, well, blows).
The next time you tell a client that a blow-dry is $50 on top of the bill or she can help herself to a SuperSolano, we invite you to pause and think this through. Imagine your client takes you up on it, dries her hair herself, and walks out looking like a total amateur gave her a blowout. Now imagine that someone asks her where she’s been—and she tells them your salon. We ask that you rethink this policy…because we really don’t want to rethink our next color appointment.
BTC’s Response to Allure‘s Open Letter to “Fancy Salons”
While flipping through your March issue, we were shocked to come across an open letter from your editors, lodging a complaint against what they refer to as “fancy salons” that charge a separate fee for blowouts after a color application. Though we understood Allure’s point, we were appalled at the tone and at the criticism toward the hairdressing community. First of all, many salons are departmentalized, so the hairdresser who does your color may not be the same one who styles your hair. In this case, it’s necessary for each service to be priced separately so every professional involved is compensated.
If we had to pick, though, we’d have to say the biggest insult by far was when you compared a blowout to a server sprinkling parmesan cheese on your pasta. Really? Where’s the respect? We figured that this letter would spawn a lively debate among professionals within the industry…and we were right. After polling our BTC Community on the issue, we discovered that the majority were as angry and insulted by your insensitive comments as we were.
However, while we ALL agreed your tone was offensive, about 41% of stylists agreed that color should always include a blowout, while 45% believe that a blowout should absolutely be charged as an extra service. So listen up, Allure—this is a sample of what thousands of our members, and probably now some Allure ex-subscribers, had to say!
A great blowout takes time and effort and, as a result, should be an extra charge to clients, is a common opinion among a number of stylists. “Usually a client would be getting a haircut or style with a color service, and there is an extra charge for those, so there should absolutely be a charge for a blowout after color,” says Lori Gray. “What if a person came in just for a blowout or style? Would that be free? No.”
Sarah Nielson Powell from Florida agrees: “Sometimes my blowouts are very time consuming. I have spent up to 35 minutes on clients, and the time adds up. To not get paid for this work would be ridiculous!” According to Kayce Bozard from South Carolina, the problems come when a client doesn’t understand the difference between a blowout and a blow-dry. “A blow-dry is what you can do at home, a blowout is what you get at a salon,” she says. “A blowout takes time and effort and should be charged as extra. We stand on our feet for long hours, and if your clients respect you and appreciate you for making them look and feel beautiful, then they will not mind the extra charge.”
To combat the situation, Sarah Mencaccini from Rhode Island suggests increasing your regular color price to account for the extra time a blowout takes at the end of a service. She explains, “I believe that the price should be bumped up a bit to include the blowout. I’ve worked in both situations, and it’s very frustrating to have a masterpiece that I’m proud of walk out the door incomplete, because somebody doesn’t want to pay the extra money.”
But Natalie Angel insists that while she wouldn’t let clients leave the salon with wet hair, only a rough-dry should be included. She said: “A rough-dry or under the dryer should be free. A ‘blowout’ should be charged. If you’re going to take an extra 30 minutes to style someone’s hair, it should be an extra price.” Robin Dorton, owner of Head Candy Salon in New Jersey, charges extra for blowouts at his salon and suggests letting the clients know in advance. “Do a consultation and let clients know the prices upfront,” he says, “so there are no surprises.”
Part of the Package
In the other camp are the stylists who believe a blowout should be included in the price of a color service. “A color service is not complete until it’s blown out and the client can see the results, so it should be included,” says Karen Whitmore. “Your client is a walking billboard of your work; they should never leave that salon unless their hair is looking fabulous.” Melanie Smith Frazier agrees, adding, “We don’t charge for a shampoo when we wash the color out, nor for the laundry service to wash the towels we’ve used, or the maintenance for sweeping up hair or mileage for driving to buy the products. It’s the same for a blowout. Salons need to price themselves appropriately to begin with.”
When it comes to offering a feel-good service, hairdressing is at the top of the list, which is why Heidi Allred Murphy from Alabama is adamant that a blowout and style should always be built into the color service. “Whether you have 50 color clients a month or 130, they need to feel special and pleased when they leave,” says Heidi. “That’s why you became a stylist, to make people feel good about themselves, right? I agree that we should be compensated for our time, but we have chosen a service industry.”
Benita Carter, from Hair Rock Café in Michigan, adds, “Drying the hair lays down the cuticle and seals in the color, so why wouldn’t you want to blow-dry your client after a color service?” The desire to see the finished result was also reported as a big appeal for finishing a color service with a blowout. “A blowout is the finished product, regardless of time spent,” explains Chalyn Basset from Oklahoma. “We, as professionals, need to remember that our clients are our billboards. Personally, I have always included this with my services because I want to know what the finished product looks like.”