The price of being a good hair guy
When I decided to grow my hair out, I had to break up with my barber and switch to a stylist. After years of AED50 crops, I didn’t realize it meant my haircut could climb into the triple digits. Finding a salon that charged more than a car payment wasn’t difficult; getting over the sticker shock was.
Men are not taught to invest in their appearance. When Bill Clinton got a $200 haircut aboard Air Force One or French president François Hollande spent AED35,000 a month on his grooming, the outcry was intense. Could these men be that vain? But the price of a trim actually has little to do with the haircut itself.
So how much should you be spending?
It used to be that the difference between barber and salon cuts was all about technique. Barbers use a lot of clippers. Hairstylists rely on scissors, which are suited to longer, textured styles.
Now the difference isn’t so cut-and-dried. “Hybrid barbering incorporates both techniques,” says Andres Morales, lead barber at Johnny’s Chop Shop in Brooklyn. According to Morales, the combination of the two tools allows for more versatility.
The price also depends on the environment. Salons have more overhead; they’ll wash your hair and offer other services, like colour (which drives up costs even if you’re not getting it).
“If you go to a diner or a fancy restaurant, you’ll be well fed at both, but the presentation is very different,” says hairstylist John Barrett.
The biggest price indicator is time. Traditional barbershops are assembly lines with haircuts every 15 minutes. Stylist cuts take around an hour, but the result is a cut specific to you.
“Cookie-cutter does not exist,” says Barrett. It’s like a bespoke suit versus the off-the-rack version. Short hairstyles need to be cut about once a month, and investing that much time and money isn’t really a viable option for most. Jay, a father of two, pays AED50 for his simple crop cut, because it works.
“I try to spend less on me and more on the kids,” he says.
But what if you have difficult hair? Take it from me: A stylist or a hybrid barber could be life-changing. Scissors can work magic with curly, thinning, or longer hair, even if the end result doesn’t look elaborate. Says Barrett, “Sometimes the differences are subtle, but they’re important.”
Chris, a publicist in Dubai, switched to AED450 stylist cuts because to him they’re noticeably better. “Hair is a big part of how I show up in the world,” he says. “I’m happier. It’s worth it to me.”
So choose your hair guy based on his work and the light he puts in your step. Price is important, sure, but a little vanity isn’t a bad thing.