The breathtakingly attractive hairstyles that were on show at the Bulawayo Arts Awards at the weekend, and even in the streets, could fool one into thinking that there was a price freeze on hairdos. Far from it.
In fact, the prices have kept up with the prices of basic commodities, leaving certain hairstyles and hairpieces out of the reach of many customers.
A city hairdresser, Juliana Mujere said business was no longer the same as clients could no longer afford hairdos. They were only left with a few regular clients.
She said that trendy hairstyles such as the Brazilian, Peruvian and Sangita which go for a minimum of $90, among others, were not so common in the salon anymore with clients preferring what is affordable nowadays.
Brazillian hair ranges from US$50-US$390 depending on quantity of bundles and the length. Closures range from US$15-US$120 depending on the length and the type of closure.
“Rather than buying a regular hairpiece that may cost up to $90 and plait for at least $60, clients rather buy multiple packs of braids that cost $7 each and plait twist for $35 which is common nowadays in the industry.
“Unlike backyard salons where most clients have resorted to, we have the rentals, water and Zesa bills to clear every month so we are forced to charge high prices to keep our business running and the room for negotiation is compromised,” she added.
Backyard hairdressers charge braids from $25-$30 and about $10-$45 for hairpieces depending on the type and quality of the hairpiece that a client has.
A hair products sales representative, Naphileh Vincent, also noted that business was low nowadays, a development she attributed to the price movements.
Their hairpieces range from $40 to $70 and they previously ranged from as little as $3 to $18.
“We get our products from South Africa and follow the exchange rate so that we are able to buy more stock and that means raising our prices as the rate constantly changes,” said Petros Mupezeni, who sells hairpieces.
The pricing pressures have prompted many women to opt for cutting and maintaining short hair with some keeping the same hairstyles for longer than usual as they cannot afford to constantly change their hairdos.
Servy Sibanda, a former client in one of the CBD salons said: “At most I used to stay with the same hairstyle for two weeks but now I am forced to last up to a month or two. Even when you feel it’s uncomfortable you are forced to soldier on.”
Having a hairdo at a salon is proving to be a luxury that most women cannot afford and some have since turned to backyard salons.
“Right now I go to backyard salons but the hair treatment is not up to standard. Your hair will be just plaited without even being washed.
That alone makes the hairstyle look old way before it is due and considering that I have to stay with it for longer it is quite stressful,” said Oletta Mkhothamo.
She feels she has no choice but to stick with the sub-standard treatment since the alternative would inconvenience her budget.
“If I tried to maintain my prior standards, that would consume half of my salary,” she explained.