What It's Like To Have An 800-Dollar Haircut

Sure, it looks good, but can you justify a haircut that costs nearly as much as a MacBook Air?

BY A.J. JACOBS | Sep 19, 2016 | Grooming

As I walk to my USD800 haircut, I try to figure out what to expect.

Will my barber have special titanium scissors? Will he measure my sideburns using laser technology developed by the CERN laboratory? Will the shampoo be made from a mixture of saffron, passion-fruit and the placenta of Saint West?

And will he provide a written guarantee that the first beautiful woman who spots me post-haircut will attempt to dry hump me right there in the street?

Reasonable expectations right? I mean, it's USD800.

The salon is appropriately chic: artsy photos of nude women in swimming pools, cappucinos for the asking.

My salon visit was inspired by the news that France's president, François Hollande, spends USD11,000 a month for an on-call hairstylist. And let's be honest—when you look at Hollande, don't you ask, "Eleven grand? For that?"

As someone who pays USD40 for a haircut, though (I look like an econ professor at Carleton), I wonder if getting the Full Hollande could transform my life. I can't afford a monthly retainer, but my editors have agreed to pay for the priciest cut I can find in New York—an USD800 trim at Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa on Park Avenue.

The salon is appropriately chic: a waiting room with books on Brancusi, artsy photos of nude women in swimming pools, cappuccinos for the asking.

I'm nervous as Julien walks in. The man has styled Richard Gere and Rafael Nadal, after all. He resembles an older Mark Ruffalo—except he's French. He pronounces haircut without the h: “aircut."

I take my seat and Julien stares at my hair silently, hand on chin. "I'm like an architect," he says. "I have to see the space." He's concentrating hard, like Jeremy Renner defusing a bomb in The Hurt Locker. "I don't like the texture. I don't like the shape." Julien explains that hair has a foundation, like a house, and mine needs serious rebuilding.

Julien gets to work, snipping strands with what looks like a serrated knife, "so when they grow unevenly, they are connected," thereby making my hair appear fuller.

I ask Julien about Hollande. "Do you like his haircut?"

"I don't like him," says Julien. "He pays someone 10,000 a month in case he needs to touch one hair." Julien shakes his head. "Take care of the country; don't care about your hair."

After a shampoo and colouring ("Think of it as camouflage," says the colourist), I return to Julien's chair and he exclaims, "You are a new man!"

I look in the mirror. My head tingles. The cut is rounder than my usual chop. My hair looks darker, yes, but also thicker—that must be those connected hairs. I look like a successful-but-cool sports agent on a CW drama. The change isn't radical, but it's really, really good for reasons that are hard to pinpoint.

Is it worth USD800? Yes. Absolutely.

Okay, I kid.

Granted, it's the best haircut I've ever gotten, maybe 40 percent better than usual. And, of course, I'm not paying for just the cut itself, in the same way you're not paying for just the food at Eleven Madison Park. The $700 tab includes it all—the Brancusi books, the Park Avenue address, the silent h's. Maybe if I were Jeff Bezos about to negotiate my next billion-dollar acquisition, it would be worth it.

But for me? Not so much. I won't mention how many people USD700 could save from blindness in Bangladesh (25) or iodine deficiency in Angola (14,000).

And actually, including camo (an additional USD150, surprise!), tips (USD150), and the products I bought (USD250)—I'm entitled, aren't I?—the final tally comes to USD1,309.35.

But at least it's not USD11,000. So, a bargain. As I pay at the front desk, I take not one but two spoonfuls of jellybeans.

From: Esquire US.