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January 22, 2012


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I think that as we age and lose that youthful beauty, it's just essential that we take better care of ourselves (even if it involves additional expenditures). Maybe our society should enjoy what we almost-50's look like in our natural state, but that isn't gonna happen any time soon. Also, people treat us better if we look as though we spent time and money on our appearance. I think that's because it sends them a message that we care about ourselves.

Aunt Snow

Wow, this is a great question.

For the record, I probably spend close to the same amount of money on my hair as you do, and I'm not entirely sure I get a good value for it. Not to say that my stylist is not good - she's great. But during the 6 weeks in between visits, do I maintain her work? Not sure.

I was born a natural blonde and remained blonde through my '40s. I started coloring my hair in my '50s, and my stylist does a beautiful job. She also does a great cut, but I am totally inept at blowdrying my own hair, so I can't reproduce her efforts.

Looking good makes a difference, not so much in how you actually look, but in one's confidence. A good look doesn't require a lot of money, although for some reason my confidence is wrapped up in the fact that I feel my stylist is somehow invested in my looks. It's a relationship.

Funny, though, not all aspects of my appearance are as important. I hardly wear makeup, and although I always wear clean clothes, I don't often care too much about them. maybe for 2012 I should clean up THAT part of my act.

Aunt Snow

PS Jenn - your hair DOES look great.

unmitigated me

Now I really feel like a big spender. The amount that you quoted for cut and color is what I spend for just my color, and you live in a much more expensive market! Nevertheless, I have always said that my hair is the feature that I have loved about myself, so I am not going to skimp. It's my one treat. Fess up time, my seven-week total is $200! Actually, that is only true every other visit. When I don't do the highlights, it's $140.

Louis C.K. has an amazing bit about white privilege...look it up on YouTube by his name and, 'being white.'

gary rith

Michelle down at Karma Salon makes me feel pretty ;) TRUE! You have to do what you have to do, if you can, you know? It helps your brain and confidence. I have found though, that I look more and more like Steve Jobs for some reason, lately---this sort of short, no fuss hair that grows in between times very nicely.

Busy Bee Suz

I love this post Jenn! I spend about the same amount at the salon, but I am lucky to only need it 3 times a year?
I feel that out outward appearance does effect the way we are treated...or at least the way we are treated prior to someone 'knowing' us!
My husband has no idea how much I spend on hair/nails...at this point in our lives, I don't think he would care either. 15 years ago? it would have been an issue.

Have you ever tried the Living Proof Full shampoo/cond/mousse? I just started using it for my flat hair...and it is amazing. At a cost. $24 bucks for each bottle!! Yikes. Liquid gold!!!


I think looking good does play a part in what you get out of life, but I also think the confidence you get from looking good is more important. I've known gorgeous people who had no confidence, so consequently they didn't go far in life. I've known unattractive people who were very successful because they were confident in themselves.

I spend $30 on a haircut each time. Getting my hair colored became too expensive, so now I do it at home. It saves a ton of money, and looks the same as when the salon did it.


When I lived in NY I spent a lot of money on clothes. If ANYONE opened their mouth to me I would reply, I don't ever take cabs. I don't have to spend any money on kids and I never eat in expensive restaurants unless someone else is paying, which was practically never. So I ate out maybe 5 times a year. In NY, the land of the great restaurant!!

We choose what to spend our money on based on our priorities. I bleach my own hair, often with "Interesting" results. But I will never give up my pedicures or shoes so I trade off. (especially now that I had to give all my shoes away and get new ones due to surgery)

Start taking Biotin. My mom and I are on it. It's one of the B vitamins and keeps hair from falling out and grows more. It's a miracle vitamin. Take 4000 mgs - 5000 mgs a day.

Also, Sachajuan makes a hair product that is supposed to work miracles on thin hair. I saw it in Allure magazine.


A cut and hightlights with tip would cost me about the same, but I only go once or twice a year, not every 6 weeks. I'm wearing it longer now so I get it cut less often and a bang trim is only $5 where I go. Hubs has no idea what things cost. I'm in charge of all the finances.

Cassi Renee

This is an interesting post, and I agree with the general idea from you and the comments, that we all choose things to spend money on (if we have extra to spend) that boost our own confidence. I live in the midwest, so prices aren't quite so high, but the guy who cuts my hair does an amazing job and is worth the $40 a cut. However, I'm willing to do the coloring myself :-)

Just a few days ago, I was contemplating the fact that almost every woman I know who is over 40 colors her hair. I was wondering how it would be if we lived in a time when coloring wasn't an option. If everyone over 40 lived with their gray hair, I wonder if the gray would make us all feel so old?


I agree, and studies prove, that appearance has a lot to do with success. Not only the well off can look great, but it makes a difference if you take good care and invest in your appearance.

For the past several years I have let my hair grow long to avoid the cost of cuts, though mine only cost about $80, my hair grows fast and I need to go frequently to maintain a style. I stopped coloring my hair about 10 years ago when I got tired of the gray roots showing up a week or so after I last colored!

I used to spend about $100. on my nails each month, but our finances have changed. I get a $20.00 pedicure every 6 weeks or so as my splurge.

My husband knows how much my cuts are. He thinks I should go someplace cheaper but understands my reluctance to move from someone who is good and knows my hair so well. Bottom line, his cuts cost more than mine on a annual basis because he goes every month!

Green Girl In Wisconsin

I know this: my mood depends on my attitude about my hair. That said, you should do what you need to in order to have great hair days.


I liked reading your post and all of the answers so far -- I love talking about this kind of stuff! I was getting my hair cut every 6 weeks at $50 a pop (cut and tip), which is completely reasonable for where I live in the Northeast. BUT, my stylist stopped working Saturdays (the easiest day for me to go) so I am now in in-between land trying to figure out whether I want to find a new person and go really short again or try a style that requires less maintenance.

For most of my 20's, I cut my own hair or my friends and I did it. For part of that time, I was un- or underemployed and just didn't have money budgeted for haircuts. I love no longer having to choose between groceries or cute hair.

Grown Up Girl

You've inspired me to get a haircut this week.


I'm blessed with great hair, so I don't do much with it. However, I strongly believe that our personal understanding of our appearance has a huge effect on how we project ourselves, and if $140 is what it takes, go for it. A long time ago I learned that pretty undergarments give me a confidence boost, so I have nice bras and panties. And if I'm feeling blue, I'll break out the makeup (normally I go face-naked) and sometimes that's what it takes to get me through the day.

shrink on the couch

I am very lucky on the hair color score. I'm one of the few women I know who doesn't color, dye, highlight - any of it. Lucky because I've inherited both parents' late to gray. Married a man who grayed young, though. He and his siblings all went full gray before 40.

Interestingly, just this very evening at the dinner table we were discussing hair color, or the lack thereof, in my hair. One time I had highlights, my twins were babies and for the first time in my life I voluntarily cut my hair short - highlights talked into by my stylist - and only because she was bartering with my husband and she wanted to run my tab up and get more done on her house. Orange highlights they looked. Ugh. Never again.

I am cheap, cheap when it comes to hair cuts. Because I can get away with a simple, fairly easy cut.

I don't look down on women who enhance their appearance with hair care. No way. Unless it hurts my eyes - as some bright celluloid peroxide blondes do (read, Newt's latest wife).

Jen on the Edge

It's more than I currently spend on my hair, but I don't think it's unreasonable either. You love the results and it works with your budget, so that's what's important.

I get my hair cut every 5-6 weeks ($60 inc. tip) which is necessary with short hair in order to maintain the style. I get a few highlights every 3-4 months depending on what I had done last time and what Richard the Hair God plans to do this time. (It varies every time so that I don't get stuck in a Hair Time Warp.) We have an agreement to keep it to under $100 every time because that's all I feel comfortable with spending.

The last time I had my color done, I also got a cut, plus I threw in a very generous tip. My husband saw the receipt and nearly blew a gasket. He does not understand why I spend as much as I do on cut and color, even though I've explained that 1) I feel great afterward, 2) they are my only beauty indulgences (I'm not a mani/pedi kind of girl), and 3) I am 42 and have reached the point in my life where I'm going to spend what I want to spend in order to feel great about myself.


I have long been fascinated with our fascination with hair. My favorite line? "Oppressed hair puts a ceiling on the brain." Alice Walker.

I guess I have come to the point that I accept that we do what we do to make ourselves comfortable and happy.

I think you're wonderful, Jen. And you're worth every penny.


Very thought-provoking post. I have always believed that if my hair looks good, I look good. And the opposite, too. I can hide a whole lot of other appearance flaws with good hair. That said, I spend about what you do on hair, although I tend to only make it into the salon every 8 weeks or so (on avereage). My husband knows what I spend and it's not an issue because it fits within our budget and it makes me feel good about myself. He also loves it when I come home with a new haircut/color. I agree that the way you look does affect how you are treated and how others view you, so it can have an impact on whether or not you reach your work goals. I find I am treated much differently when I am well put together with nicely styled/colored hair and nice clothes, then when I let my hair style go and dress less nicely. A comment on society? Sure. But I also feel better about myself when I look better.


Hmmm, I have a bit of a different outlook, I guess. I'm 48 and being a single mother with no other support other than my paycheque, salon visits are an indulgence I can only rarely afford. I get my hair cut about 3 times a year, but I wear it in a shoulder-length layered cut that grows out gracefully, and as for colour, it's me and Nice 'n Easy. I do have nice hair texture, so it works. I don't wear makeup. Or at least, not often. I like how I look without it, and invariably, on those occasions when I do wear makeup, I forget and rub my eyes and end up looking like a raccoon.

I'm very good at my job. I've worked hard and have accomplished a lot of things. I've been the acting manager of my section for months at a time when the manager was off on assignment. I've taken on new roles and responsibilities and I'm doing well. Without makeup and with my home-coloured hair. So, and I'll stress that *in my case*, I don't think how I look has had any impact on me achieving my work goals.

The gold digger

I color my own hair because I am way too cheap to pay someone else to do it, although it is getting to the point where Clairol #24 Clove is not doing the trick, as I am now coloring to cover gray instead of just to try a new color.

After I was laid off from my job and before I got married, one of the places I cut back on spending was on my hair. I stopped going to my hairdresser and went to supercuts or the beauty school instead.

I hated it. Beauty students are fine for pedicures - if they mess up, they can re-do a toe or you can wear socks - but it takes weeks for a hair messup to be corrected.

As soon as my husband and I decided to get married, I went back to my hairdresser and had her cut and color. It felt great and I liked looking good.

(But then I asked her how I could do the color myself because $80 a shot seemed like a lot of money!)

The one place I won't economize is on my gym. It gets too cold to exercise outside here in the winter, so I need a place where I can work out. As I hate exercising (but love eating), it also helps to have somebody bossing me around in a class. I would rate YMCA fees as more important than hair fees for me.


I'm sort of gobsmacked at how much you spend on your hair, but if it makes you feel confident I'm not going to begrudge anyone any amount of money that takes. I spent hardly anything on my hair (no colour, cuts about every two months if I remember) but then my hair is generally pretty fine by itself.

You hinted at the notion of external standards meaning you need to do this out of pragmatism and also potentially influencing how you feel about your hair choice. I absolutely appreciate that perspective because it acknowledges the root and says 'I recognise what I'm doing but I think I need to do it.' The only thing I could add is that the fact that there are these standards makes me sad, the fact that women (apparently more than men, though that could be changing) feel the need to conform to these standards to get on in life makes me sad, and also angry at the world. I choose to conform to the minimum acceptable level, because I feel not pandering to artificial standards set by another is also quite important for me personally.

Great discussion.

Karen (formerly kcinnova)

I agree with some of the above statements about a good haircut/makeup/etc. sends a message that we care about ourselves.
However, I choose to not wear makeup 99% of the time (dark eyelashes help) and I have only occasionally spent the big bucks ($120) on a good cut and color. I do have conflicting opinions about coloring my hair. On one hand, it did look fabulous when I first had it done (lowlights), but on the other hand, I don't think the gray looks bad (I'm a "winter" with dark hair and blue eyes).

When I attended my 25th high school reunion, I was one of two women there who hadn't participated in hair coloring. And I will readily admit that most of the women there looked better at 25 years post-high school than they had at 10 or 20 years out. Is coloring the answer? I don't know.


Of course you're not an idiot for spending what you do on your hair. If that's what is important to you, why not? Another person might not pay a lot for haircuts but might insist on expensive shoes.

My husband would probably be shocked to learn that my haircuts (no color) cost $65, but that's because HE can get a haircut for $20. It probably has never dawned on him that women's haircuts are more expensive.

I think looks DO have an impact on one's ability to be successful. I'm not saying I applaud it, but it seems to be the case. That's not to say that an unattractive person can't be successful--there are thousands of examples that prove that to be false. In some ways, being attractive can work against you. I was just reading yesterday that attractiveness is still associated with not being very smart.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen

When you do the math, you're only spending $3.33 on your hair per day. People who would be "horrified" that someone spends $140 probably spend a whole lot more than $3.33 a day at Starbucks. I say, whatever it takes to make us feel good about ourselves, works for me. And, for the record, you do have really cute hair!


The only thing that would have driven me crazy about this question would have been if people judged you for your own choices. It's your inventory, and no one can determine what goes into it.

Add to that the fact that hair is queerly powerful in the world--it's so much more than hair, really--and I can't imagine anyone's right to object to your business.


I fib! I tell him my $35 manicures are $25 (shh!altogether about the tips!), my $25 pedicures are $10, and when it comes to any facial waxing I just say I got my eyebrows prettied up! (funny thing how my upper lip is all red today, huh? Good thing sometimes he never looks at me ;-)

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I can say about my god-given hair. (I'm gearing myself up to post a photo of what I would look like

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intersected numerous times over the years in many of Westport’s finest salons.

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