Are Hair Salons Ready to Become Gender Neutral?

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday March 3, 2021

The first thing most people have wanted to do since the pandemic's onset is get a haircut. Sources from NPR to Consumer Reports were eager to offer advice, and the hashtag #covidhair amassed more than 69,000 Instagram posts. But now that vaccinations are on the uptick, those unkempt heads are making their way back to the salon. But outdated binaries aren't always welcome.

Salon owner and stylist Blythe Lundy has just opened Hair Republic — Wilmington, North Carolina's first gender-neutral salon.

"I definitely wanted to have a safer place in the community that everyone could feel welcomed and also just allow them to express themselves and allow them to feel good without having to tell us anything that we don't need to know, besides how they want to wear their hair," Lundy said in an interview with Spectrum News.

Gender affirming also means gender neutral pricing, which has long been a source of contention among consumers. A pinned post on the salon's Facebook page states, "We do not believe in gendered haircuts. A buzz cut is a buzz cut and a haircut and style is just that regardless of your gender. Our pricing is based on the amount of time and skill, not how you identify."

U.K. salon owner, hairstylist and wig designer Dan W. Chapman believes that part of the issue stems from outdated styling terms.

"Gender prejudice is so built into our hairdressing training and terminology that we don't even realize. For example, we speak a lot about 'feminizing' or 'masculinizing' a haircut, whereas we could instead describe styling by using words like 'blunt' or 'soft' cuts," Chapman told All Things Hair.

"I have lots of non-binary and transgender clients who have spent hours worrying about their hair appointment for fear of being misunderstood," said Chapman. "Hairdressing should be about embracing people. I want them to walk into my salon and not feel intimidated. Hairdressers need to understand what language might be triggering. We don't need to genderize our customers' haircuts — it's their hair!"

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.