Salons Get In Trouble For Sex-Based Pricing

Rachel Adler

Growing up in Indiana I went to the same hair salon throughout my entire childhood and didn’t think twice about the prices. This was mostly due to the fact that my mom paid (ah, the joys of being a child) but also because I grew up for a good chunk of my life in the Midwest, and prices were in no way unreasonable or ever questioned. But, when I read a recent article in The Wall Street Journal about a law that has been enforced in New York City about sex-based prices in salons, I’ve started to question how salon menus are configured.

It has always made sense to me that a woman’s haircut costs more than a man’s, as well as a woman’s hair color. But, according to the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs, salons have been getting hit with violations left and right. They have issued 580 gender-pricing violations to businesses in the last year, more than double of the year before.

The department’s commissioner, Jonathan Mintz said, “We wanted to really send a strong message to businesses about this kind of illegal pricing, so we did a very focused sweep over the course of the year. That sweep was largely targeted at salons and barbershops and laundry and dry cleaning.”

Salon employees are obviously upset by the sweep, saying that the law makes no sense. The WSJ interviewed Ben Duon, the manager at Kim’s Holly Salon and he said that they were charged a $300 violation for charging men $2 more for manicures.

“It cannot be the same. It’s much more work to do the men. Most men, they need a good cleaning. They’re contractors, you need to do a lot of work on their nails.”

As for haircuts, at Foxy Salon in Williamsburg, owner Ria Fuentes said a haircut for a man takes about 30 minutes, while a haircut for a woman takes at least 60. “Every salon has different prices.” She added that inspectors are “just going around to all of them.”

Another stylist made a good point about the prices of life insurance, noting that life insurance for a man costs more than life insurance for a woman. I agree with the stylists that dealing with a woman’s hair is an entirely different battle (in most cases) than a man’s, and prices should showcase that.

What do you think about the enforcement of gender rules for salons? Obviously I don’t agree that men should be favored over women in any case (or vice versa) but this rule seems a bit ridiculous.

[The Wall Street Journal] [Image via Istock]