Most customers think it is almost normal, but a haircut costs less for men in the vast majority of hair salons than for women. Also when a woman has a short or simple cut or a man has long locks. Unjust, they believe at the Belgian hairdressing federation Febelhair, because women’s hair is not more difficult to cut than men’s hair, and it does not necessarily take longer. “The techniques do differ, but that does not justify the price difference,” says Febelhair chairman Charles-Antoine Huybrechts.
The sector organization therefore advises its members not to take into account the gender of the customer, but rather the amount of work. “Whether you cut a man or a woman, ultimately the personnel costs – the largest cost item – as an employer are the same. We therefore advise our members to use their costs as a benchmark for their pricing. To remain profitable, we recommend charging the customer 1.30 euros per minute,” says Huybrechts.
A rate per minute, that doesn’t sound exactly transparent for a customer. “It is of course not the intention for the price to be posted in that way, because then you as a customer would have to pay more if your hairdresser works slower,” says Huybrechts. “It is more logical to work with certain flat rates for specific services, such as cutting, brushing, coloring…”
Tax stumbling block
Febelhair made his appeal on Wednesday morning in the consumer programme Win win on VRT Radio2, but the price difference between a men’s and women’s cut has been controversial for some time. For example, a woman from Mechelen filed a complaint in 2018 because she had to pay her hairdresser much more for the same haircut than a man. A year later, then Minister of Equal Opportunities Nathalie Muylle (CD&V) wanted hairdressers to no longer use separate price lists for men and women.
Actually banning this turned out to be more difficult than expected, because neither Febelhair nor politicians can simply impose a new pricing system on hairdressers. Especially because hairdressers currently still have the choice of whether they submit their tax return on the basis of their actual receipts and expenditure, or on the basis of fixed bases. Because a small minority still opts for this flat-rate calculation, whereby a women’s cut is more expensive than a men’s cut, a women’s cut is simply taxed higher than a men’s cut.
“Fortunately, the tax authorities will remove the option for the flat-rate calculation this or next year. Not only is it outdated, but it also allows too much undeclared work,” says Huybrechts. “But apart from that, habit also plays a role, the prices are now determined too arbitrarily. That must be possible better.”