Why you're paying too much for a haircut

How much do you pay for a haircut? Well, that depends. How experienced is the hairdresser? How reputable is the salon? Are you getting a style or a trim? Wet cut or dry cut? Man or woman?

Wait… what?

As of November 2017, the most popular haircuts among men and women across New Zealand differed in price by a whopping $41.

A men's dry cut - which is not a popular service with women - costs on average $28. But a men's wet cut on average costs $40, still $29 less than a woman's at $69 - which means women are paying 42 percent more.

Men in New Zealand can essentially get a wet cut and a dry cut for the same price as a woman's single trip to the salon.

Hairdressing is just one of a raft of products and services women pay more for - collectively this extra charge has come to be known as the 'pink tax'. Recent studies by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs have found that women are charged more than men at used car dealers, dry cleaners, launderers and hair salons.

I decided to do a little research for myself in an attempt to find a gender equitable haircut.

Of the 30 hairdressers across Auckland I checked, only three charged the same for men and women.

The Sharing Shed, Just Cuts and a boutique hairdressers in Eden Terrace called I'm Not a Barber.

Run by Hong Kong expat Jun, I'm Not A Barber, is a 'hair salon with barber prices'.

They've always charged the same for both men's and women's cuts, and Jun says in Hong Kong that's the norm.

"I found it weird when I came to New Zealand and they charge different," she says.

In Hong Kong, hairdressers' skills come at a set price, regardless of the length of your hair, the style of the cut or your sex.

"You are buying the hairdresser's hand, so it's not about what gender you are," says Jun.

Wellington salon Matthew Kane Hairdressing, also follows a non-gender-based price structure, charging by length instead.

Chain hairdressers like Just Cuts or The Sharing Shed do not charge relative to your sex, and McInnes and Co salon owner Abby McInnes said stylists at these cheaper options have just as much skill and experience as those employed at high-end salons like her own.

"A lot of stylists that work in places like Just Cuts have come from an environment like this."

She says that often stylists find the long hours involved in working in a pricier salon unappealing.

"You're not working three late nights a week, it's an easier service, and you don't have to do the colouring that comes with it," she says.

So there you have it - a gender equal, cheap haircut by a boutique stylist at your local mall.

Thank me later.