Why Are Haircuts So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

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Isabelle O'Gallagher

Isabelle O'Gallagher is a personal development and relationship expert who has consulted for some of the biggest companies in America.

Haircuts are the most basic services in the salon, but you might have noticed that a two-inch trim and a side fringe can cost a little more than what you think it’s worth.

If you are heading to the salon to update your haircut, you might want to come to terms first with why haircuts are expensive. Here is what you need to know!

Why Are Haircuts So Expensive?

Haircuts are expensive because hair stylists undergo rigorous training to acquire a cosmetology license and spend a lot on high-quality tools. Most hair stylists start their salons or work for one, and these salons pay expensive overhead and operations costs—the more popular the salon and stylists, the more expensive the haircut.

If you are interested in learning more about a hair stylist’s education and a salon’s operating and marketing costs that influence the price of haircuts, keep on reading!

1. Hair Stylists Need A Cosmetology License

Professional haircuts do not happen by accident. Instead, they result from years of education culminating in a hair stylist getting a cosmetology license.

However, a hair stylist’s education does not stop there, as most hair stylists continue their education every couple of years.

That said, this racks up a hair stylist’s investment in their professional career, and the only way to recoup their expenses is by charging more for services like haircuts.

2. Hair Stylists Invest In High-Quality Tools

No matter how skilled a hair stylist is, they cannot provide good haircuts without an impressive repertoire of tools. As such, hair stylists invest a lot in top-tier equipment.

Typically, a good pair of shears can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000. Still, that does not include other tools like clippers, brushes, razors, combs, blow dryers, and curling irons.

Additionally, these tools can come in brands and varieties that make them pricey. To invest in these tools, hair stylists have to secure a profit by charging more for haircuts.

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3. Hair Stylists With More Experience Can Charge More

It is not uncommon for clients to get attached to their hair stylists. After all, most people want to work with hair stylists that can give them more personalized care.

As such, hair stylists often build a clientele willing to follow them from one salon to another. So, when a hair stylist becomes in demand, a hair stylist can charge more money.

4. Salons Pay For Rent & Utilities

Unless a salon buys land and builds its own infrastructure—which is rare but not unheard of—the salon has to pay for its monthly rent and utilities.

Also, even a small-time salon with limited square footage will be shouldering hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of monthly dues.

However, maintaining sufficient space to deliver their services is crucial, which is why some overhead costs are passed on to consumers by making services like haircuts expensive.

5. Salons Need Insurance Coverage

No matter what precautions salons make, accidents will happen. Managing accidents involves money, which is why salons must pay for insurance with sufficient coverage.

Further, like all types of insurance, the larger the coverage, the higher the premium, which can easily exhaust a salon’s earnings.

Therefore, to ensure that salons can provide their business with the right type of insurance, they have to increase the cost of even basic services like haircuts.

6. A Salon’s Branding Determines Their Market

6. A Salon’s Branding Determines Their Market

Salons have different brandings. For example, some salons appeal to the middle classes, while other salons appeal to the higher classes and celebrities.

Generally, a salon’s brand determines the type of market it will attract and the price ranges it can command for its services.

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When a salon exudes a more professional and luxurious quality due to its location, aesthetics, and services, the salon can justify the expensive haircuts.

7. Salons Stock On Backbar Supplies

As you know, a haircut does not begin with a hairstylist hacking away at your hair. Rigorous washing and treating happen to prepare your hair for the service.

Of course, delivering this service requires a host of equipment and products, like capes, towels, shampoo, conditioner, and shampoo bowls.

Additionally, the chairs and shampoo bowls must be sanitized, and towels and capes must be regularly laundered, and covering these expenses makes haircuts expensive.

8. Salons Have To Adhere To State License & Permits

Salons incur a lot of expenses in getting licenses and permits for the services they want to offer, and these expenses can vary per state.

Apart from the standard business license, salons need health permits for each service they plan to offer, like nail care, waxing, and facials.

Naturally, these licenses and permits are not a one-time expense either. For renewal, licenses and permits often have to be paid annually or bi-annually.

Therefore, to pay for all these necessary fees that salons have to cover, the price of services like haircuts have to be higher.

9. Salons Pay Not Just Their Hair Stylists

Hair stylists are not the only employees in salons; to make a salon fully operational, managers, assistants, and maintenance workers must be employed.

All these professionals working together give each client a streamlined and stress-free experience whenever they get a haircut.

However, paying for their salaries is a considerable expense, requiring salons to make services like haircuts expensive.

10. Salons Need To Maintain Payment Channels

Salons need to keep up with the various payment channels that the masses use to ensure that clients enjoy as much convenience as possible.

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Contactless channels have always been at play, but they have become even more critical in the COVID-19 era.

However, procuring and maintaining these channels is costly because each payment requires a payment processing and transaction fee.

Therefore, to prevent losses, salons need to factor in these fees when deciding the prices of their haircuts.

11. Salons Spend A Lot On Marketing

Even with dozens of loyal customers, salons still need to keep their foot traffic high to secure enough profit.

For this to be possible, salons must promote themselves on social media, pay influencers, or even partner with celebrities to familiarize people with their brands.

Of course, all the marketing expenses of salons impact their services’ prices, which explains why haircuts can be quite expensive today.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why 111Skin is so expensive, why Drunk Elephant is so expensive, and why BVLA is so expensive.


Haircuts are expensive mainly because the professionals and businesses that provide this service incur a lot of expenses to make it available to the masses.

Apart from a hair stylist’s cosmetology license, salons also have to pay for all the licenses and fees that correspond to their services.

Additionally, hair stylists and salons invest a lot in their space, aesthetics, and, most importantly, their equipment. All these factors contribute to the high prices of haircuts.


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