The High Cost of Highlights

I went to get my hair highlighted last night and in trying to keep costs down and extend my highlights for as long as possible I asked only for partial highlights. I also did not get a cut as I decided to cheat on my hairdresser and go to the ‘cheap’ place for a trim the week before. My hairdresser, by the way, totally picked up on my transgression and was quick to point out that my hair was not even at the back. Really? Well for sixty dollars less, I’ll go a little uneven lady. Sheesh.

When I got up to the cash I was a little giddy. I could hardly wait to see how cheap this was going to be. I was so proud of myself for my resourcefulness.

This feeling did not last for long.

My eyes almost bugged out of my head at the cost. $148!! What the fudge? I only had partial blond highlights people. That’s gotta be what, about $1.50 in product? The girl behind the counter looked at me completely dead pan and totally unamused. Of course $148 is nothing to her because she works there and probably gets her hair done for free. $148 to me is a whole lotta groceries. It’s at least a couple of outfits. It’s a lot of money.

My head suddenly hurts. I hand over all the cash in my wallet and wait for my change. Then, to add insult to injury, I hand all my change back for a tip!!!

GAH! Hair is the expense I hate the most. In fact I hate it so much I stopped colouring my hair a few years ago and let my hair go back to it’s natural colour. Afterall, I am lucky enough to still not have any grey hair, so I don’t have to colour. But in a weak moment, for my husband who always loved the blond in my hair, I decided to get highlights again. Now I’m stuck with the damn upkeep.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Here’s the thing though. Spending money elsewhere doesn’t irk me as much as spending it at the hairdressers does. I’d spend $150 for a gourmet meal somewhere and barely bat an eyelash. The hairdresser’s is obviously my trigger point. What’s yours? Where do you hate spending your hard earned paycheque?

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  1. says

    My hair and spending money has always caused me stress too. When I was working I used to get highlights. That stopped when my new plan was to get pregnant and quit work 😉 But with a short bob style, I have to go every 5 weeks – seriously. And at $60 a pop that ads up. But I don’t see any way around it – except going back to long hair and a pony tail like university. Boring. I also spend $15 every 3 weeks for an eyebrow wax. But how do I give that up? And don’t suggest I do, trust me, Canada already has Eugene Levy, we don’t need another 😉

  2. Jinni says

    I’m with you on this one. I started coloring my own hair again 2 years ago, because of the cost. I still get my haircut at the high-end salon, though but even that is expensive and hard for me to pay. I never go as often as they want me to, but then I guess they don’t care if my children eat… :-). I started going gray in my early 20’s. If it wasn’t for the gray, I wouldn’t color my hair at all. The only other thing I hate paying for is bras.

    • Candace says

      I tried highlighting my own hair before, it was a disaster. Then I had to pay to get it fixed, even more painful LOL

  3. Tara says

    Send me and email…$148 for highlights is TOO much. I found a girl in Orleans and she’s awesome at colour AND cuts!!

    I can’t stand spending my money on brakes for the car. I always feel like the mechanics are laughing the moment I walk out of the garage, “she’ll pay that for $500 worth of parts, bahahahaaaa”. I’d gladly spend the same amount on the latest, greatest electronics without a shred of buyer’s remorse.

  4. says

    I completely agree! I love the look, but the expense is dreadful. The worst part is that every time I find a good hairdresser she ends up leaving…it’s like they rotate every two years! I’m in between now and my roots are desperate for color. I have resorted to asking random people where they get their hair done. They must think I’m crazy!

    • Candace says

      It took me 8 years to find a regular hairdresser after moving to Ottawa. Now that I have I’m ready to leave her 🙂 My wallet hurts.

  5. Kelli says

    OK. Stop. First of all I will email you my hairdresser’s name because I have a fab hairdresser. Second, I know it sucks to pay that much but it’s totally worth it! A gourmet meal is gone the moment you finish eating but you wear your hair everywhere! I love going to the hairdresser and I firmly believe you get what you pay for (uneven hair anyone?). I go to the hairdresser every 6 weeks like clockwork for my colour and sometimes if I want to save money I won’t get a cut but for the most part I get a cut and colour and I love it. Getting my hair done to me is like getting myr nails done – its not a necessity but you seem to walk a little taller and feel a little better about yourself when you do it.

  6. says

    Hair upkeep is definitely one of the banes of my existence.  Another is paying $70 for a dance costume for a 3 year old.  Seriously?!  It wasn’t even something she could wear as a costume for Halloween.  To perform a 3 minute song, that costume cost $23.33 per minute.  But she loves her dance class.  What’s a mama to do?

  7. Candace says

    YES!! Dance recital costumes drive me crazy! I love how you broke it down by minute. Brilliant. LOL

  8. says

    I’m with ya sista! I have no words of wisdom. I resent colouring my hair so much – but I have very few options. I’ve been ‘colouring’ my hair for more than 25 years… started going grey, like, REALLY early in life. I bought the store stuff for many years and progressively damaged my hair as a result. The store shelf stuff if full of alcohol and sulfates, which ultimately dry your hair (apparently). But as a student at the time, or early in my career making little money, I had no choice. As I got older, I was able to ‘afford’ salon colouring and products, but it doesn’t mean I don’t value a buck. I probably pay too much, but with my horrible, frizzy, damaged, dry hair, I need help in caring properly for it. Our hair often defines us to the outside world – unfortunately. Yes, it’s a vanity issue, it’s a self esteem issue. I know that when my hair looks like crap, I feel like crap.

    I’ve made a promise to myself though… in about 5 years I intend to set myself free and let the grey come out . I will embrace what genetics gave me and live with it. It will be a sad day for my salon because they’ve made some good coin off me. But I’m sure it will be liberating. 🙂

    My spending pet peeve: Car repairs! Everytime I go to a mechanic, my low blood pressure rises to an overwhelming height! I always expect a call that tells me I will have to pay $1,500. That seems to be the usual! LOL!

  9. Candace says

    Yay for you! You will find that liberating I’m sure.

    I did the home thing for a while, but it wasn’t pretty. I know it probably shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but I can’t get past it. If I sat and thought about how much I’ve spent on technology the last five years, I’d probably think my hair was a bargain 😉

    My husband is Mister Fix-it, so thankfully car repairs are not something I struggle with. Small blessings 🙂

  10. Alex says

    My girlfriend is a Cosmotologist so she does my hair for free. She also does her friends for free if they provide their own products. All you need to do is become friends with a hair stylist and you might get lucky! She charges $20 for a haircut and $50 for full highlights on long hair (to the back) if you go straight to her so about $70 for a cut and highlights.

  11. Kristin Heflin says

    I am exactly opposite! I have more trouble spending over $50 for dinner for two. When it comes to my hair, I have had so many hairdressers mess up my hair I’m happy spending over $100 for a professional stylist! I do very thorough research when I’m picking out a stylist! A great stylist doesn’t always mean expensive but research is mandatory!

  12. Melanie says

    It’s always important to keep in mind that hairdressers went to school and most are in debt 20000 or more for the education. Product and colors used on your hair is definitely more then 1.50 are you kidding?
    You should do your research on pricing first before you complain about it.
    Everyone knows that highlights are expensive. Not to mention you said you had all natural at that point… Which trust me is more work and more product used .
    I think people should have more respect for the working men and women in the beauty field.

    If you want cheap highlights. 10 dollars will buy you a highlight kit from rite aid… And maybe if your lucky you can get your husband to do it for you for free!
    Just my thoughts.

    • Candace Derickx says

      Hi Melanie, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I wrote this post four years ago and had almost forgotten about it. I’m going to go out a limb and say I was having a bad day 🙂 I can assure you that I still pay a professional hairdresser every three months for my highlights. Have a great day 🙂

    • Nae says

      20000 beauty school is a heck of a lot cheaper than 6 years of university, $50000 debt and on a teachers salary. Just saying… It’s too expensive just like mechanic prices

    • clay says

      bravo on your comment Melnie. People want cheap and good. No such thing. Education also cost a lot of money. wanna be cheap. go buy box color, or go somewhere cheap and let them mess up your hair.

  13. Jessica says

    I spent without regard for years on my hair and regret it now. I wish I had put all that money in a mutual fund and let it compound interest instead. All that money would have grown so much by now. For the record, men don’t care whether or not have highlights and go to an expensive salon. Save your money ladies!

  14. Adrienne says

    Someone spends 3-4 hours weaving in and out all of every hair on your head in 1/8 sections and you are upset about it being 140? Hairstylists need groceries too.

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