How to Charge For Your Cosmetology Services
The Ultimate Pricing Guide
Just the word makes so many of us roll our eyes and sigh.
The process is a pain, the math isn’t fun, and TBH, it can sometimes be a challenge to explain to your customers why your prices are what they are—especially if they don’t have a solid grasp of how much goes into the services you’re offering.
But honestly, pricing is so important.
We get that it can be overwhelming and that the pressure is on—what if you price too much? Too little? What if you scare clients away or don’t price correctly to attract your target audience?
Fear not, lovely stylists, nail technicians, skin care professionals, colorists, and hair artists. We’re here to untangle the knot that is pricing (forgive us for the hair puns – we just can’t help ourselves).
We understand how hard it can be to set up a pricing system that’s both fair to you and your client that also covers your costs.
Our best advice?
Don’t be stressed.
Sit back in our chair, relax, and pretend we’re giving you the best mental scalp massage in the world, because we’re about to ease your mind, set you straight, and give you all the information you’ll need to price your services accordingly.
When It Comes to Pricing, Facts Come First
You’ve probably heard some iteration of the facts before feelings mantra—and while we know this isn’t true for everything in the world, this is true for how you should think about your rates.
It can be hard to underprice your services because of how it feels to charge more, but this is where the facts come first.
And you know what, we’ve got a few off-the-top-of-our-head facts you need to remember before you open the door on any pricing conversation:
- You have to cover your costs
- You have to make a living
- Your time is valuable (like, really valuable)
- You’re an expert in your field
There are tons of other facts to think about (ones that likely involve more math, TBH), but if you’re looking for a few basic things to remember, those four are your go-to facts.
Tips for Pricing Your General Cosmetology Services
Adjust for Inflation—Seriously
This is especially relevant in 2022 when inflation has hit an all-time high. Remember that fact we covered earlier? You need to cover your costs. Guess what? Your costs went up.
That means your prices need to go up, too. It might not *feel* that simple, but trust us, it is.
Pricing Isn’t Static
In the same vein, it’s important to realize that setting your prices now doesn’t mean they’re set here forever.
Contrary to what you might think, your prices aren’t static and should be dynamic—that means they’re going to have to (and should!) change as the years go by, products get more expensive, you gain more experience, and beyond.
SO many factors impact how your prices will change, so don’t set them and leave them alone forever. You need to adjust as you go!
Great Service Comes First, Not the Lowest Price
That mindset that you need the lowest prices to beat out the competition? Nope, don't even start thinking that way.
Don't get us wrong, low prices are good sometimes, but you're not in the biz to cut everyone else a break, you're in the biz to offer your expertise. People have to pay for that.
Take a look at the services you offer, be realistic about the premium you can provide, and charge accordingly, no matter what the competition is doing.
Value Your Time (Or No One Else is Going To)
We cannot stress this enough – include your time in your pricing structure.
As a creative artist working with people to deliver the product they want, isn’t your time the most valuable aspect you’re offering?
Of course, it is!
The time you’re spending working on one service is time you could be spending on a different service.
Like we said. Your time is valuable, so don’t treat it any differently. Include this in your price calculations.
The Occasional Deal and Discount Are OK
But try not to make it a habit.
Sure, fun discounts, day-of-deals, and even participating in social media contests where those who rep your salon/spa to get a nice discount on their service can be a great way to get clients in the door.
That being said, make sure you don’t give your clients the wrong idea about your business – you don’t hand out discounts willy-nilly, instead, you carefully strategize and plan for your pricing discounts.
For example, use discounts to clear outdated stock, services that don’t take you a long time to complete, or to stimulate demand for a new service you’re offering.
Just make sure it doesn’t come off to your clients that you’re reducing your prices entirely.
Four Ways to Communicate Prices Effectively
Shoot straight with your clients and they’ll mostly return the favor.
Be as transparent as you can possibly be so they are aware of your pricing and won’t feel like you caught them out with a higher rate. Have your prices for your services listed, explain how your tiered pricing works, and have an in-depth pitch that explains why you’ve chosen your unique pricing structure.
Make your rates easy for clients to find—in your salon and on your website or socials.
And furthermore, be as up-front with them as possible about why something costs money, why something takes time, and why you’ll have to charge differently or book more sessions than they initially thought.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your clients about the real reasons you’re charging more or taking more time—they deserve to know why these processes cost more and require more effort.
Be direct, be transparent, and talk to your clients about your pricing. They’ll appreciate your honesty and openness.
Create an Elevator Pitch for Each Process
DON’T feel the need to explain your pricing to death.
DO have a go-to pitch that lays out educational info for your customers. If someone doesn’t vibe with your price, that’s fine—all you can do is educate them on the bare-bones reasons that this service demands this price and let them make their own decision.
Explain why something might be a higher price—it takes more time, more products are needed, the process is tricky, etc., from an education standpoint so they can gain an understanding of your pricing structure. What you shouldn’t do is treat this as an excuse for your pricing—your pricing and your time need no excuses. Your pricing is your pricing for a good reason.
Sometimes people just want to understand the reasoning behind why you price this way—it’s OK to explain this to them without treating it like an apology, just have a go-to pitch you refer to every time.
Establish Policies & Stick to Them
If you don’t take your policies and pricing seriously, no one else will.
A great way to really dive into money talk with your clients is to have established prices and policies that are already accessible—put these on your sites, your social media, in your salon, and more.
If your clients are already familiar with these prices, they won’t be surprised when they come in to chat with you about a transformation or a recovery mission. Do yourself a huge favor and don’t just post these policies, stick to them firmly. They’re called policies for a reason, right?
Cut Clients Loose Who Don’t Vibe with Your Expertise
All you can do is educate your clients, explain your process, and stick to the prices that you know are fair. At the end of the day, some clients just won’t get it and they might want to fight you on your prices.
Does this mean that you’re in the wrong? Nope. You know better than anyone what your services are worth and you should charge what you deserve. Sometimes, a client just isn’t a good fit and it’s OK to let them go.
Color Corrections & Specialized Services: How to Price Accordingly
We set up a section here to discuss color corrections (and other types of specialized services) because they tend to be the sticking point for lots of cosmetologists/stylists. Why? Because they’re tricky and everyone’s definition of a color correction is different.
And of course, what you’re dealing with is going to affect how you price.
First, you’ll need to establish some foundation.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Did the client come in from another salon in desperate need of some help?
- Did your client try to dye their hair themselves and end up with a cosmetology disaster?
- Did the client come from your salon (AKA, from another stylist)? If so, were they just unhappy with their color or is there actual damage that was done?
- Did a client dislike your work on their hair? If so—was it what they asked for, or did you actually accidentally mess something up?
Is Your Price Right? Our Advice.
Above all, check your math. Even if you don't want to. Ask yourself important questions about the time you're spending, the cost of products and materials, and what you're losing out on by doing this services. Figure out your profit margin so you can actually make money for the service you're providing.
These considerations will help you take that base color rate and make adjustments as needed, ultimately helping you find a fair, logical price point.
Want to take a different approach to color correction or specialized services? Try things like offering hourly rates instead of a flat price to accommodate for the fact that every service and every client is different.
Or consider offering base prices that you can then build on for specialized services to ensure that you're getting the full bang for your rate buck.
Feeling a little more comfortable with pricing? Good!
Putting together your rates can always feel a little intimidating but making sure that your prices are a solid reflection of your expertise is important.
Like we said above, if you don’t take your prices seriously, no one else will. Know your worth and price accordingly!
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