The research explores expenditure patterns of women 1961-2011 on hairdressing using from data in UK Family Expenditure Survey. This shows the unexpected pattern whereby the women going most frequently to the hairdresser and spending the largest proportion of their income are those over 75.This contrasts with the situation in the 1960s when women over 75 were low spenders and users. Part of the explanation lies in the passing through of the ‘shampoo and set’ generation who were socialised in their younger days into going frequently to the salon. The pensioner haircut thus represents a fossilised version of the salon styles of the fifties and sixties. Subsequent cohorts who adopted easier styles and more frequent showering go less frequently. Other factors are also relevant in the form of difficulties managing hair as the body become less flexible, and the role of the neighbourhood salon in social contact.

The analysis was undertaken in collaboration with Professor Shinobu Majima of Gakushuin University and funded by the British Academy.

The article outlines these patterns, and draw parallels and contrasts with two other areas of expenditure on the body and its presentation: clothing and cosmetics.