Why women pay more for a haircut

Men, my husband included, can't fathom why women pay so much for a haircut. Male interaction with a scissors-wielder is strictly business; it doesn't matter if the same person cuts a guy's hair or not.

A woman treats her hairdresser as a confidant, counselor, and sounding board. But most important, she looks for a hairdresser who sees her as she is - only better. If she can find such a person, she'll follow him anywhere.

For more than 10 years, I have followed Chris from his days renting a chair in a nondescript salon in Harvard Square to opening his own spacious aerie on Boston's exclusive Newbury Street.

Chris looks at a woman and understands the way her hair moves. He sees textures and highlights. But he also tunes into the head under the hair. "I try to figure out who this person is in front of me," he told me.

This can backfire if a stylist as opinionated as Chris decides a woman is one thing and she disagrees.

In fact, he has steered me away from certain haircuts. Last time, I debated whether to go from my usual bob to really short. Chris waved me off; he wasn't inspired. "Next time," he said, conciliatory, "if you still want it short, we've had this conversation, and my head will be more into it."

If Chris sounds like a blow-drying tyrant, he's not at all. In fact, I consider him an artist whose medium is hair. His expertise gives him an appreciation of people in other fields who treat their work with artistry and perception. And when I walk out of the salon, I feel like a million bucks.

That, my friends, is the reason women pay so much for a haircut.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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