Trying to keep your hairstyle in line with Agyness Deyn's latest androgynous do can be expensive for a girl. A monthly trim at a unisex salon costs around £40. But, if you're a man, you'll pay up to half that for the same haircut.
For decades, it's been standard practice for hairdressers to charge women more for haircuts, based on the idea that women have longer hair and therefore their cuts take longer and require more expertise. No allowance has been made for the increasing popularity of short hair on women, particularly with the current trend for boyish crops, like mine. Indeed, when I went for my monthly trim last week, I found that the price had gone up £5 to £45, while the price of men's cuts had risen only £2 to £28. I was so insensed, I decided to seek legal advice.
"Recent amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act in April have strengthened the protection from sex discrimination, not just at work, but also in the wider world, from businesses who discriminate against individuals in the goods and services they offer," says Samantha Mangwana at Russell Jones & Walker. "Where a man and woman have the same haircut, and the same skills are required, the salon is acting unlawfully to charge them different prices. There does not appear to be any justification for the cost difference," she says.
Eileen Lawson, general secretary of the National Hairdressing Federation, admits that non-gender-based pricing is an "ongoing consideration". She says that women should question a hairdresser if they think they are paying more than men are for the same cut. "Where the service is truly the same, so should the price," says Lawson.
But, a spokeswoman for Toni & Guy - which charges up to £16 more for a woman's cut - said the company has used its pricing policy for 45 years and was adamant that "men's and women's cuts do vary - even on shorter hair". She did concede that if a woman opts for a simple man's haircut the hairdresser is at liberty to reduce the bill accordingly. The difference is that women still have to haggle to avoid what essentially appears to be a gender surcharge
Claudia Cahalane on haircuts and non-gender-based pricing | Life and style | The Guardian