“Making highlights pays off more than cutting them”… Coloring, essential for hairdressers

From 2016 to 2018, Real Madrid achieved the feat of winning three consecutive European football cups, giving rise to the myth of “Ronaldo blonde locks”. Legend has it that when the Portuguese striker dyes his front locks – his spring hair routine, Real smash the continent. A tale that Mathieu remembers very well. Not that Nîmes is particularly madrisdista at heart, but her hair salon In the lead had also known his golden age: “All the young people – my target audience – wanted the same haircut as their idol. And making wicks pays off more than cutting them.”

Five years later, Cristiano Ronaldo has left Madrid and the blond, but coloring continues to make rain and shine economically in hairdressing salons. Account for a third of the turnover at The Saint-Louis, in Brest (Finistère). A similar assessment at the National Union of Hairdressing Companies (Unec). Its president, Christophe Doré – it can’t be invented – does the math: “Colouring represents between 22 and 25% of hairdressers’ turnover, to which we can add 7 to 8% for discolorations and highlights” . A third in total, the account is good.

More techniques, more profitability

Conversely, coloring represents “only” 10.5% of the costs for hairdressing salons on average, a huge gain according to Stéphanie Prat-Eymeric, federal hairdressing and aesthetics secretary for the Force Ouvrière union. For the expert, there is no doubt: “Colouring remains one of the most profitable and lucrative processes”. The hairstyle equation can be summed up simply: the more technical it is to achieve, the more it pays off.

Far from the smiles of yesteryear, the world of hairdressing is actually going through a hell of a crisis, between inflation, Covid and the gloomy mood of the population. – Can go

Christophe Doré adds a layer: “It’s an essential for hairdressing salons, you can’t do without it”. Even less so now, where, away from platinum blonde hues, the middle is more brooding. In the first six months of the year, 602 liquidation, receivership and safeguard procedures were opened. That is 181% more than in 2021, according to the firm Altares, which does not exclude that the figure will rise to 1,000 by the end of December.

More than 4 visits to the hairdresser per year for women

This tense situation does not surprise Emilie, hairdresser at Mr and Mrs in Lyon (Rhone). She herself noticed it, between the Covid, inflation and the bad social mood of the country, “customers are spacing out their service more and more. A person who came every month will now come every six weeks.” Unec estimates that on average women make four annual visits, and six for men. Numbers at the bottom.

The only consolation for the hairdresser: “By coming less, customers are less fussy about spending” and will eliminate too simplistic hairstyles from the options. No more scissoring just to equalize the fringe, it’s about marking the event – just in case, getting a new color. Coloring appears to be the perfect compromise for the client, believes Nathalie, from Saint Louis. A bit expensive and with enough effect to justify the trip, but not excessively costly for the customer either. “Since inflation, we have seen a lot of renunciation of more advanced and more expensive techniques, such as sweeps or highlights, to opt for ”simple” global colorings”. Less expensive, easier to maintain and more durable.

Hunt the natural, it comes back to scissors

Lasting has now become the imperative of a visit to the hairdresser. “Customers are returning to much more natural colors in order to make less of a difference with their real hair, and thus not having to come back too often,” notes Emilie. “The natural chestnut has the coast in particular”. Same observation with Jimmy, whose scissors officiate at Face-to-face (Canet-en-Roussillon, Pyrénées-Orientales). Here, people come here at the start of the summer holidays to perfect their color in the sun. But here too, “the coloring is less extravagant than before. We opt for more realistic and truer shades”, far from the peroxide blond of yesteryear.

A naturalness that even intervenes in the choice of materials, since the vegetable coloring is particularly popular. For Christophe Doré: “It’s a whole sector that is beginning its revolution to adapt to new expectations and stay in trend.” Because coloring, too, is going through a slight crisis. The share of its turnover has lost a few percentages. “A small settling of 1 or 2%,” said the president of Unec.

Be old and love yourself

The culprit is all found: the Covid. For weeks, deprived of hairdressers, French men and women had to come to terms with their true color, or for those who had had the good idea to go and redo their tifs a few days before the fateful date, at least their true roots. Something to accustom the population and take a big step in the acceptance of the scalp as it is. “Particularly for white hair, which is no longer a societal taboo,” notes Pascale Hébel, economist specializing in consumer behavior and associate director of the marketing consulting firm C-Ways.

Do you pick up a little color well?
Do you pick up a little color well? – Can go

Conclusion: “Where the aging of the population should have represented an economic opportunity for the sector, this is no longer obvious”. Another potential explanatory factor: the rise of feminism. After a book by Virginie Despentes and another by Mona Chollet, Céline, 62, decided to stop coloring her hair: “You have to love yourself as you are. After all, men don’t color themselves.”

If the current period is therefore not the easiest, no salon questioned speaks of a disaster, and France has more than 100,000 hairdressing salons, 6,000 more than in 2021 and three times more than in England for the same number of inhabitants. In Nîmes, Mathieu secretly hopes to have found a new Ronaldo: the Barbie film, which exceeded one billion dollars at the box office. “What perhaps relaunch the platinum colorations” and the turnover.

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