I’ve always struggled a bit with my hair. I was never the girl with the perfect hairstyle. It was always a little too short, cut a little funny, or just a little on the wrong side of fashionable.
I was an African-American girl growing up in a really white town, and getting my hair done professionally was always a struggle. To make it worse, my hair (and everyone else’s) also had to deal in the incessant dryness that is life in Colorado.
Hair appointments were both anticipated and dreaded. They included a drive to Denver (40 minutes), and then the wait. Even if I arrived early, I ended up waiting to get started. If I was getting my hair straightened or braided, it always cost me time and money. I would sit in the stylist’s chair for hours until one day I finally just said, “Enough!”
I was spending several hundred dollars on salon visits four times a year, but I wasn’t happy with the outcome. Almost one thousand dollars a year, and then… my hair started falling out. Life had gotten stressful, and that stress was affecting my hair. As the strands fell out, I desperately searched for alternatives: weaves, lace front wigs, and braids. The weaves looked beautiful, but cost several hundred dollars and stressed my hair even more. The lace front wigs also looked awesome, but cost around $180 once shipping was added in. And braids were always beautiful, but my stressed-out hair couldn’t handle the tension, and it fell out even more.
Doing the Big Chop
“The big chop” refers to a practice that black women across the globe are embracing: you cut off all of your processed hair and then grow your hair out fresh and unprocessed. If you were dying your hair – it’s gone. If you were straightening your hair – bye, Felicia! Why are women of color opting to do the big chop in such large numbers?
There are two reasons. First, it’s an assertion of the fabulousness of hair in its natural state. Have you been wondering why there are so many women wearing afros? Or women with braids? People are taking back control of their hair.
Second, wearing their hair naturally saves money. As I haltingly learned how to manage my own hair, I also noticed an unexpected consequence: I began to save money, and I became more confident about my hair-styling prowess.
After doing the big chop, my hair has slowly grown back under my own inept care. I’ve watched YouTube videos, checked out websites, and talked to people about the best ways to regrow my hair and to look my best for less.
I still get my hair braided, but now I do it myself. No, it’s not amazing, but I get the job done. And the cost is zero. I still wear cute wigs, but I’ve now discovered that I can get the same or similar types of wigs for $30 dollars, including shipping. I now spend $150 less than I used to on basically the same product.
My hair expenses now average around $200 a year. Yep – that’s all I’m paying annually. I used to pay around $800 to $1,000 a year on hair products, weaves, and wigs. And now I can use that saved money for debt repayment, trips, or savings.
A Final Thought
There is an old saying that “your hair is your crowning glory.” I will admit that I was willing to pay a lot to look my best. I noticed that when I stepped outside of the house – rocking whatever look I had decided on – I felt empowered.
But there are plenty of resources online – for all types of hair and for people of all races and ethnicities – that help you deal with hair care affordably. If you take control over your hair care, you don’t have to go broke (or bald). You can manage your own hair care for a fraction of the price that you were paying before. I’m sure that I will return to the hair salon at some point in time. But as of right now, I’ve been doing my own hair for quite a while now, and I love how much time and money I've saved. The big chop is definitely the way to go when it comes to saving money.