Are Hair Stylists REALLY Overpriced?

Crochet braids by The Kink and I.
Crochet braids by The Kink and I.

On Saturday, after I posted that I was on my way to K.L’s Natural Beauty Bar, I got a DM asking me about the pricing there. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about my salon visit, my hair has been to this salon twice, so I told the person asking- that it cost me 4,000 to do twists with cornrows on the side, and 2000 to wash and dry. She responded “Hian”. Out of actual curiosity, I asked her what exactly the “Hian” was meant for- the 4k or the 2k- or both services. And, it is this same question I put to you today.

Today’s post is just to set the conversation going. I really want to know what you think. Owning a salon together is one of MeeMee and I’s many dreams- if we can ever work it out between Lagos and NYC or where else life takes us. So perhaps it’s because I’m a future salon madam lol that I’m interested, or you can say biased. I do not think so, though.

What’s Your Thing?

One thing I believe is that most people have at least one thing they like to splurge on. For some, it is food. Raise your hends if this is your category lol. For some people it is makeup. Others, books. Accessories. It all depends, and me- my own thing is hair- hair and food, lol. But this is not just about hair being my thing. I really want to know how much people are inclined to spend on getting their hair done, and why.

MeeMee makes hair on the side. If you’re in NYC, hit her up for your twists with marley extensions, and crochet braids: She is usually too lazy to do her own hair lol so when she actually wants to get braids, she goes to the African braiders in Harlem. These women charge about $120 to do the same twists she installs for $80 and below. And yet. Every now and then, we get that random email inquiring whether hair is included in the price. Really guys, really?

$80 Marley Twists in Harlem! Click To Tweet

Early this year, I did crochet braids for my aunty. Her friend’s sister saw it, loved it and wanted me to come do it for her. She would have been my first paid client but this big woman wanted me to come do her hair, in the comfort of her house, for 2000 naira only. I was asking for only twice that. She stood her ground and so did I. I was unemployed at the time, but there was enough food in my house, please. We were not operating on the same mindset, clearly- and I think that reflects a lot of us in Nigeria today. For starters, it would be a shame to my LL.B and my B.L. and the data & hours I’ve spent self-training, to accept her 2k- and even if I did not have those degrees, am I not supposed to live? Live well? Keep the lights on if I have an actual salon?

Should your hair stylist not be able to afford nice things? Click To Tweet

If you think about how much you value your stylists, truly- and the beauty they hook you up with, maybe you’d be inclined to pay?

As I told my friend when she said Hian. It takes at least one hour to gently wash, condition and safely dry natural hair. Is 2,000 naira for an hour of someone’s time too much? I don’t think so. Try yourself and go to your local 300 naira wash and set salon, and get 300 naira service.

The first time I truly experienced a great salon was in my final year of uni. Diva Salon, Amakom in Kumasi. I paid 25 cedis for a wash. 25 cedis then was about 2,500 naira- half my day-to-day transportation & miscellaneous budget for one week. It was pricey by those standards (in comparison, regular wash and set was 3-5 cedis) but they sabi de work. I felt amazing. I came back home to Lagos not long after and my family thought I was wearing a weave! Washed, deep conditioned & steamed, dried, straightened and saran wrapped to finish… I would later realize that they treated me to the same care that I give my own hair now.

I don’t know about other countries, but in Nigeria, we generally have a bad attitude to “hand work”.

I really hate that things like plumbing, hair dressing are referred to as “unskilled labour.” Things are changing in our generation though, and I hope we continue. We are a generation that has had the greater privilege of going to school- and there are still many of us that see the value in “hand work”. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing less of a divide between what is considered blue collar, and white collar. I’m not saying a manicurist’s service or skill is as important to society or as hard to acquire as a neurosurgeon’s, but every skill is valid, and people should be able to afford a certain niceness in their standards of living.

If you go to do faux locs and you are charged 6,000 Naira and up- uhm, do you know how long that takes?

You do know- you’re the one sitting there. I’ve never attempted to do million braids, but if you go for a style like that (been ages since I saw that though), I think you should be prepared to pay. You’re taking at least one day, if it’s just one person doing the million braids for you. Is there even any need to even go this deep? The simple fact that you are UNABLE to do something yourself, should affect the value you place on the service.

If you aren’t super gifted with skill and speed like Naija Girl Next Door, or okay- you have the skill but not the speed, going to someone else to do your hair can save you time, allow you to relax. How much value do you put on that? The nice ambience, the cute decor? The air conditioning?

I hope you get the point I’m trying to put forward today- but, you don’t have to appreciate my perspective. I’d love to hear from your point of view. How much are you willing to pay? If you were a stylist, how much would you accept for the things you do yourself?  Let’s talk in the comments!




46 Replies to “Are Hair Stylists REALLY Overpriced?”

  1. about a week ago i felt like i needed to get faux locs, called my stylist and he charged me 5k, suffice to say i didnt call him back. Buh today a friend walked into my room with dry damaged split ends filled hair and begged me to do sumfin to it, so i got to work pre pooed, shampooed, deep conditioned, oil rinse, twist and trim. All of this took about 5hrs. Wen i was done d achne in my fingers was like no other. I told myself i would never argue with my stylist wen it comes to prices!! Ive learnt its one thing to do your own hair, but its another to spend time giving that same attention to someone else’s hair.

  2. I do get this but I have a problem with part in with money. Even when it comes to food [which I spend almost all my money on]. My friend keeps telling me to stop “pricing” but the thing is: 1) if people wouldn’t hike prices, then I’d be sure that I’m not being cheated. My pride eh. 2) I’ve been broke one too many times. 3) I think I’m already used to it :'( The thing is, if I believe I’m getting value for money (value includes someone not being rude to me because they think I’m not a big woman. Which I’m not), I’m all for it. Sometimes I think customer care is just as important to me as skill. But maybe my point of view is changing petit a petit. Man must chop after all. Thanks.:)

  3. I love this post! I can relate with the different angles in the comments.
    Because I do my hair myself, I know the effort involved. While I’ll probably want to save my 4k and do my twists myself, I think it’s worth it if I couldn’t do it myself and had to go to a good salon.
    I think as has been said, it all depends on priorities- paying much for hair has never been one of mine. Maybe that’s why I can do hair.
    Now that there are salons that actually KNOW hair, I’ll be willing to go to a good salon and pay for careful handling of my hair especially if extensions are involved: because it takes more time and will last longer. If it’s just my own hair, it won’t last (knowing me); so I’ll be less likely to spend as much.

    Thanks for the mention! :* :*

  4. Ekene, This is a really an eye opening post. Thank you for posting this. You are right about being paid for the service’s worth, paying or comfort/luxury as the case may be but I think some services are just ridiculously over priced. 4k for twists and some small small senrenren here and there is a bit over priced. Natural hair shouldn’t be expensive. Some natural hair salons make it seem like they are doing us a favour. And when people speak up and say natural hair is expensive, the they say it’s not true. Ofcourse the quality of service should be considered but the customers as well should be considered, you obviously don’t want a certain group of people seeing you all the time, you want diversity and variety type of patronage. Price fixation should be made relative to general price of hair service in Nigeria. On the average, Say 2000 is paid to do box braids here in Nigeria, the natural hair salons shouldn’t cross the 3500 mark just because ”it is natural hair” . Yes, we are paying for comfort too when we go there, but the prices should be reasonably fixed. As a matter of fact, I know a good number of ”iya basiras” that would charge you no more than 2k for the box braids and would still handle your hair well If you make It clear to them. I’m really saying yes to #MobileHairStylists. If twisting your real hair is 4k, Lemme guess, braiding is 6k and probably box braids is 10k. Ridiculous!

  5. I think it depends on the style. I’m a product junkie, so I spend a lot on products, but I usually limit myself to a budget. I’m yet to spend over 3000 on a single product. I just graduated Uni, so you might understand the necessity. With regards to hairstyling, I’ve spent 16k on faux locs twice. They lasted me about 4 months each time. I wouldn’t spend that much again, because I’ve found cheaper alternatives, but I’d say it was money well spent. I however would not spend 4k on cornrows and twists because I can do them myself and I actually enjoy doing them. Plus, you can get great service for way cheaper. I’d pay the 2k to get my hair detangled and washed because I know what a nightmare that can be for me and getting stylists who can do it without leaving me with tears and regrets is rare. So bottom line, I’d pay more for gentle care and long lasting styles but not for the stuff I always do myself. (I rarely go to salons except to get my hair braided btw)

  6. Thing is, the stinginess comes because we know we can do the wash and etc to our hair ourselves.
    I think we should consider the products being used, the ac you’re chilling in, the skill of the person doing your hair and so many other factors.
    2000n isn’t bad to spend on washing and styling, I mean some of us spend 5000n upwards to just fix a weave, why can’t we spend half of that in washing and styling our natural hair?
    I’m up for the price provided it is done well not like the one you’d pay 5000n upwards for washing, straightening and styling and get 300n service.
    Quality + cost must go hand in hand.

  7. Everyone has their splurge and whilst I don’t AT ALL have sticker shock from the N4k twists, I wouldn’t in general pay that much for twists. I have done so (Hola Apples and Oranges), but I don’t really like getting my hair done and I’m that person who has NEVER gotten my hair styled at a salon and liked it. I usually smile there, give a tip and go home and cry because I think it looks ugly and not how I envisioned. Rather than that, I’ve been learning to style my own hair in quick and easy ways that I like. For free. Now if that N6k service (wash, dry and twist) was some hair or beauty product, hello splurge!!!! I’m a product junkie and that’s where most of my spending money goes. Well that and food.

  8. Interesting convo!
    I can close my eye in a lazy bum day and do 2k for washing, with all the goody products and nice environment….but I won’t do 4k for twists. I can afford it if I choose but I won’t cos I think it’s over priced. I’ve paid more than 4k to get my hair done in braids..i just won’t go that route for twists or cornrows. Not cos I don’t think /respect the handwork of the stylist…just because I think it kinda high.

    But then, there are levels of stylists and levels of prices. Like some one mentioned earlier, a lower price doesn’t always mean poor handling of the hair or a bad style.

  9. Since I started my natural hair journey, I rarely go to a salon, this year I have been to a salon twice. Even at that, I will be willing to part with some money for a beautiful hair do if I decide to use a salon

  10. To each their own but I believe if one is skilled at any career choice, be it eyebrow threading, they should be paid their worth. But then again, every price is up for haggling in Nigeria bearing in mind that, there is already a poor ingrained perception of certain skill sets including hairstyling.

  11. Lmao hahahahahahaha I love this post! I don’t do hair, but I can you that Nigerians don’t like to pay for quality, because we consider each other thieves. While some just think, ah ah for natural hair? but why? The same person complaining about 5k for Faux locs will pay 30k for a 200ml bottle of “extra glo white skin go bleaching super cream! bwahahahahahahaha”. Words like, natural, organic, handmade, cold pressed mean nothing to us here, I know how many times people have gone ahn ahn give it to me for 2K, what give you my fancy exotic AND ORGANIC “monoi de tahiti oil” that the french polynesians made from like 100 coconuts for 2k?! NOOO!!! LOL. Natural hair takes time and care, and I would pay 8k if someone will wash my hair with the same amount of love and time it takes me to wash my own hair. I am always happy to spend money as long as the service suits my every need. 🙂

  12. Yes, I understand that these aren’t your regular salons and that you will actually get good quality service but I still think 2k for a wash and 4K for twists is overpriced.
    Yes I can afford it but no I won’t afford it.
    Generally I think that natural hair salons, if they really are honest with themselves, could cut back on some of their prices. Some of their services are worth that much, I agree; but not all.
    I am a planner so I overthink every detail. Do you know the things I could do with 6k?! I would totally pay 6k for a style that would last me till I can milk every single kobo but I wouldn’t spend 6k for a wash and twists when I will take them down in 2 weeks and re-wash.
    But then as you said, everyone has their priorities and guilty pleasures they would splurge on. There are things I would spend 6k on that would probably have someone else wondering if I think I’m Dangote’s favourite daughter.

    Nigerian and Natural

  13. Okay….since its Lagos and where the salon is situated. It’s possible sha! When i’m rich and famous na dose kind places i go de patronise 😀 for now, i’m 17 and on a tiny budget

  14. My first time commenting *whoop *whoop! This is a great post really. I like to splurge on hair, food and novels. Lol! I’d practically pay anything for those 3 as far as I’m getting good value for my money. Its true that Nigerians dont like to pay for services. We prefer an excellent service but at a cheaper price. I haven’t been to a saloon since i started my hair journey last year but if I find a really good one like Savvy chic and beauty hub of Lagos here in Abuja I wont mind putting my hair care in their hands.

    Moma’s Healthy Hair Journey

  15. Nice post, AB. You really sparked a conversation. Like you mentioned, people generally have things they are willing splurge on. I tend to spend money for things for my hair. Not everyone is like me. I am willing to pay for a salon visit if the service is good and I have a good experience. I generally go to salons for the things I can’t do (or not planning to try). For example, I got waist length box braids sometime last year from Lumo Naturals. The braider didn’t pull on my hair and I didn’t have to argue with her about how I wanted my hair done. It cost about 4k, extensions included. In contrast, I had my hair braided in Utako market back in 2013. The price was far cheaper but my experience was worse. Currently, I don’t really go to salons because I don’t always have time to go (I do my hair at odd times of the day or night). Also, I’ve had many bad experiences so I’m a bit wary.

  16. Well, I guess Everyone is trying to make ends meet. I recently went to O’naturals and got box braids done for 7k. That is short box braids that took her like 4 hours to do o.Hmmm… Apparently it was even supposed to be more expensive. Guess God was on my side. In my opinion it was quite pricey but The lady who did my hair was so gentle and good to it so much so that I was thanking her afterwards. I felt I got value for the money I spent although the hair is now getting rough. It’s barely 3 weeks. I saw someone that was to do it cheaper for me but she was so mean, I knew I’d go home with a headache. On the other hand, many people are still middle income earners. So doing hair for amounts like 7k or the likes is just crazy. Again, saloon owners have heavy bills to pay so eventually pass on many costs to the consumers so it’s not their fault either. Lagos is overpriced. For me, I can pay above 5k for a 1 month hair if the environment is clean and fresh, hair is well done, hair lasts and experts are well skilled at handling nappy hair and also considering the amount of time the stylist takes to do my hair. I remember a time my popsy overheard Me saying I wanted to do my hair for even 2k and he was shocked saying that he hasn’t finished spending 2k to buy food items it’s now hair he will spend 2k on. In my mind I said, this man has no idea what’s going on with inflation and female related products and services. That was even when I was doing hair for around 5k. Smh.

    When I definitely have my own natural hair saloon I will make sure as much as possibleI provide affordable service to Nigerians because I know how much we suffer and I’ve been on the consumer end before.

  17. Truth is kinky hair requires extra care and for the TLC I would be getting, I don’t mind giving my hair a treat and paying as much as i can. But for now am my own stylist. Maybe When i start earning money sha☺i will visit a natural hair friendly salon.

  18. I’m going to be honest and say I would not pay for a salon visit but I would for the products. I love hair products and I like trying new stuff. But I don’t trust anyone with my fragile fine hair. Besides, I genuinely like handling my own hair, wash day and all. 4k for twists I can do in an hour? Nope.

  19. Well, as far as hair is concerned, I’m willing to pay as much as I can afford on authentic natural products. As regards services at a salon, I must say dat I can only afford the ones that mal-handle my hair, bt charge around N1500 fr all-back cornrows, excluding d amount for the extensions. When I earn higher, I wud be willing to try out those salons that shall treat my hair with TLC. However, it must be totally worth d price, which shall b determined by d ambience, products used, skill and care, etc

  20. Well, like your post asked…how much are you willing to pay? Truth be told, I’m willing to pay what is justifiable! For students like myself, I don’t earn pretty much or even get a fat allowance but I love to pay for great services I receive.
    I am not ashamed to say that I thought the prices you called were a bit out of place for me because I felt them “expensive”. Don’t get me wrong, I really love when my hair is properly cared for but like babs said above, it depends on the location of the hair stylist and the services rendered, which is why I won’t visit those palces unless you agree to take me there *Wink* or I start earning so much to take me there.
    You have given sufficient details for why the price is entirely justified and I agree in all terms but what about low-income earners like us?
    I love food first, hair and accessories and I can spend all I have just for them but not when I envision myself to look real good and I come out from a salon after paying 9k looking like an ugly duckling…[that happened to me one day and mind you, I bought the hair extensions myself, the 9k only covered for the services and the hair washing…I was soooooooooooooo mad…like 9k, all down the drain and I loosened the hair in like twelve days because I just had to utilize my money somehow, I wasn’t exactly pleased!]

    1. LOL deeglamour, I am a low income earner like you! I haven’t even done hair for 9k, ye! Which is why I do my hair myself almost all the time- even if I have to stay up till 2am to do it. I can’t afford to go to natural salons every other weekend, and if I wash my hair once a week- 12k in a month is definitely not change to throw away. Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that there’s a difference between what I can afford, and what is “expensive.”

  21. I say…
    I can’t pay 4k for side twists and cornrows.
    I’m currently wearing them and i got them for 300naira only.
    Just because there’s AC or decor or whatever doesn’t mean you should get your hair washed for 2K except they use costly products to do so.
    Well i think its all about how wealthy you are.
    I do my braids..long braids for 800naira or 1000naira plus the price of attachment 1800. That’s almost 2000.
    Before a stylist fixes her price i think she should consider these facts:
    – How many people patronize my salon on daily basis.
    – How much do my products cost.
    – Do i use a private power supply or the public one.
    – How much rent do i pay.

    If she/he does that honestly.. Twists and side cornrows can never amount up to 4k. 🙂

    1. Who relies on public power supply in Lagos? + BQ in a place like Dolphin is 500k (to give you an idea of the rent) – You pay for the (comfortable) space as much as you pay for the hands on your head- and I think this is true for any service. So, all things considered, it really is possible for it to amount to that.

      1. I’m sorry the person charging 1800 or 2000 to do your hair, how does she feed, pay rent and her bills with such a low amount? How many people would she do in a day to meet up with weekly costs? and if she has people working under her how does she pay their salary monthly? She must be super woman or something. She is clearly shortchanging herself and her skills as far as i’m concerned.

  22. 2k for the washing is worth it, but 4k for just twisting is just too much, (more so, if u had to carry d twist for just 2weeks and den go 4 a retwist dat would b 8k 4 just a month!!!) I can pay that much for installing an attachment! But not 4 a cornrow, haba!!

  23. Thank you very much for this article. I run a mobile natural hair company, and my clients either come to me, or I go to them. I make sure they are in comfortable and, most times, familiar surroundings to ensure the best satisfaction whilst doing their hair and avoid the usual salon rush. Most of the time my clients appreciate my work, but a few times you get people who want quality work for little pay. I had my pedicure done at a salon in VI and when the guy was done my feet felt so soft I didn’t want them to touch the floor. I didn’t mind paying what I did for the service I got because it was money well spent.I believe that anyone who does beautiful work for you, be it hair, fashion or food, you should be able to pay what is required. I don’t think people go to buy Gucci or LV and complain about the price when they get to the store, so why should we do the same about our hair? (P.S. Apologies about the rant, just needed to get that off my chest. Lol)

  24. Lol one time someone came through a friend to enquire about my price for for faux locs, as it was chin length I charged her 5k and i settled on 4500. Night before the day to make the hair she called and asked that I should cone to her place then she asked “the 4500 includes the extensions right?” You can’t imagine my anger. I politely ended the call.😂😂

  25. Hnmmmmmm……. Its like overloaded box just got bursted. Hahahahahaha. It seems salon hair care has bn taken to another level in the sense that you have value for ur money atleast in many stores around. Running a salon is nt cheap dear. Frm rent to utility etc, bt If u ar gonna pay high then it must sure worth the price vice versa. Another thing is the environment i.e location. U can pay 2k for a service in a particular area and pay like 1.5k for the same service in another place. But in all a lesson hv learnt is that jst bcs its cheap doesn’t make it the worst and bcs its high doesn’t make it best, u’ll knw if u hv ever fallen victim of a big salon hype and at d end of d day its all kinda scam….

    1. LOL yes Babs! Thank you so much for bringing this up. Cheap doesn’t mean you’ll get bad service, and Expensive is no guarantee of good work. I mean, I had my hair washed at Nature’s Gentle Touch two months ago, and paid 5,500. I was NOT pleased with the service, at all.

  26. Hi AB, well I must admit shamefaced that I was a bit alarmed at the cost of getting hair washed in a natural hair salon but after your very detailed analysis I realized it’s about the service. We really don’t like to pay for service in Nigeria as I have also experienced in my day job as a lawyer. So with the benefit of hindsight? I would pay that much to have my hair loved!

  27. I think the money is whorth it for all the care and love our hair would be showered.Some Nigerians can be stingy when it comes to paying for services,especially hair and beauty.I sometimes make my younger one’s hair and believe me,it can be stressful at times (if you want to make it painless).I appreciate anyone that has the patience to detangle and make my hair,that thing is literally bush!.

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