An Open Letter to Salon Owners: Please Stop Letting Me Leave With Wet Hair


Watch out: This will cost you. | Shutterstock.

Dear salon owners,

Recently, I found myself at the tail end of a two-hour stint in a salon chair, flanked by two girls who were engaged in a tug-of-war with my wet, tangled hair, gently jerking my head back and forth as they tried, and failed, to rake brushes through the knots. One of them — the girl who’d painstakingly painted on my color hours before — asked me if I wanted my hair dried. The question caught me off-guard. I waved off a full blowout, but asked if she wouldn’t mind drying it half-way so that I could see the color and leave without my hair dribbling down my back. Only later did I look at my receipt: They’d charged me an extra $45 for the blow-dry.


Tell me, please, when did this become a thing? And why? It’s almost as bad as when McDonald’s started charging for dipping sauces, as if anyone really thinks of a McNugget as anything more than  a vehicle for gobs of barbecue sauce and honey mustard. Hair appointments are nothing without the final blow-dry. It doesn’t even have to be smoothed or curled or Pantene-level bouncy. It just has to be … dry

“One place asked me if I wanted to do it myself,” said my friend Ashley when I complained to her about the stealth addition to my bill. “I think they never used to. But in the last five or so years, they all do it now.” She blames New York for this (and also for tiny cupcakes and overpriced preschools).

I did a little digging to see if this was, in fact, a thing. And, well, it is. Of the 13 salons we called,  all but three (Hush, Mirror & Mantel and Duross & Langel) charge for a blow-dry after a color treatment. Prices range from an extra $20 (Moko) to $75 (that’s with Laurentius Purmana, owner of Laurentius Salon). The average price is $40, though all 13 salons will dry your hair for free after a cut. (A blow-dry with color is free for first-time clients at AMS.)

This, my salon-owner friends, strikes me as weird. If I’m spending at least $150 — and several hours — on highlights, why should I have to fork over another $40 to finish the job? It’s like a makeup artist charging extra for lipstick, or a dentist charging extra to floss. It’s part of the deal. I know my hair is very long and very tangly and a blow-dry takes time. But a perfect, smooth blowout is far different than a quick-and-dirty rough dry (which, in fairness, is free at Moko). At least give me this option.

“It’s total bullshit, charging to dry your hair,” said one salon owner. “And it’s illegal. By Pennsylvania state law, they have to dry your hair. Even if they stick you under a dryer, they cannot let you leave with wet hair.” (A note: According to the Pennsylvania Department of State Professional Compliance Office, this is not actually illegal. The representative I talked to wouldn’t confirm out loud that it was total bullshit, even though I definitely think she wanted to but probably couldn’t because, you know, rules.)

If you must charge extra, then please be upfront about it. Don’t casually ask me if I want my hair dried. Of course I do, because having cold wet hair soak through the back of my shirt sucks, and because I want to actually see the color for which I just forked over $150. But I don’t think that I should have to pay more money to get a complete job. And wet hair, no matter how you slice it, is incomplete. So ask me if I want my hair dried, tell me it’s $40, nod while I say no, thank you, and then, please, offer me a towel so that I can turban-twist my wet hair for the walk home.