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These Gender-Neutral salons are a pink tax-free zone


Have you ever felt ripped off when paying for a haircut? Studies would suggest you have – provided that you’re a woman. One such study found that only 15 per cent of randomly selected hair salons charge the same prices for equivalent services for men and women. It’s that little thing called the ‘pink tax’ – the elevated price of products and services marketed at women. But if a new wave of salons is any indication, change (and less financially ruinous haircuts) may be on the horizon.

On average, a woman’s haircut will cost £55 in London, while men are likely to pay closer to £15 for the same service. “Gender-based pricing has no place in progressive and cosmopolitan society,” says Kaye Sotomi, co-founder of Chop-Chop London. “We have fixed gender-neutral price points for our services, which are all based on the time it takes our stylists to complete them.”

Glasshouse is another salon that has rethought ‘traditional’ pricing schemes. “I’ve always felt uncomfortable about charging differently for men and women, but the industry is shifting, and now has felt like the right time to make a change,” says founder Olivia Crighton. “We have plenty of women with crops and plenty of men with longer hair, so the uneven pricing system just didn’t make sense anymore.”

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"It dates back to the beginning of time. Good, strong, silky hair meant royalty, wealth, power and femininity. It’s not our fault why it means so much to us and our identity, because it’s so deep in our psyche. Everything we see in the media and have been fed through film and TV - that’s where we get these pre-conceived ideas from and they’re difficult to get past." A few words from @hairfreelife on the symbolic attachment we have to our hair. Photographed by @thealovstad for Glasshouse Journal.

A post shared by Glasshouse Salon(@glasshousesalon) on Nov 20, 2019 at 12:30am PST

In a new era of embracing gender fluidity and self-expression, more people are adopting hairstyles traditionally associated with the opposite sex. Equally, women are now questioning why they should pay more when they could just go to a barbershop for a just-as-good and significantly cheaper haircut. A 2018 study found that 56 per cent of women surveyed were doing just that – having visited a barbershop at least once in the two years prior – a number that has since increased.

The old argument that women’s haircuts are more difficult or elaborate than men’s also no longer holds water. “The general impression has been that men’s cuts are quicker or easier than women’s, but in reality, we spend just as much time and care on our male clients,” says Crighton. “In fact, some short cuts actually require more technical skills than a single-length women’s cut anyway.”

Both monochrome salons are sufficiently utilitarian and cool to appeal to a broad range of customers, regardless of how they identify. And while prices at Glasshouse are determined by the expertise of the stylist (starting from £58 for a cut), Chop Chop (which recently opened in Wembley) charges according to time, with an afro dry cut priced at £20, and a dry cut and style at £30. See also Butchers (a salon that believes “hair hasn’t got a gender”), and Bleach, which charges according to hair length.

Here’s hoping pink tax-free shampoo is next.

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