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Hair Budget: 12 Ways To Trim It


Everyone’s looking for ways to save a little cash these days, but looking less than together at the job isn’t the way to go. How then, can you keep your hairstyle looking polished and professional without spending a bundle? What do you do if you simply have to shave your beauty budget?

To help, we sought out the top “Thrifty Dozen” beauty-budget ideas that don’t leave you looking down-and-out. See how many you can use!

1. Help Them Learn. Have you ever considered having your hair cut at a beauty school? Before you freak at the thought of your head as training ground, consider that just as with dental schools, beauty schools don’t let total novices work on you; pros oversee any work that goes on. For instance, at Empire Beauty Schools, which have more than 30 campuses in GA, MD, NC and PA, all work is performed by advanced level students who are supervised by their instructors, so there's no need to worry. What's more, if you want a new style that's really trendy, Empire's students often see what's new before many veteran stylists; they attend guest- artist presentations and beauty shows. You don't need an appointment, so you can stop by at the last minute for a quick update. Cuts start at $7.50; specialty styles like updos start at $10; color starts at $12 for semi-permanent color and highlights begin at $25. Many locations even offer manicures for $5.00, pedicures for $10.00 and makeup applications at reduced prices.

Visit for a location near you.

2. Get What’s New During Training Nights. If you’re willing to give up a little control over exactly the look you get, you can have the very latest look from salons that hold model training nights, during which experienced staff members learn the newest styles. Often, these are top-notch operations; for example, in New York City, Frederic Fekki, John Sahag Salon and Vidal Sassoon are just a few salons that have special training nights during which you can get a hair cut that would normally cost $100 or more for around $30.

If you really hate what’s happening, don’t be afraid to speak up just because you’re getting a bargain. Adaptations of a look that suit you can be worked out. You can also get haircolor at cut rates. To locate salons with special nights, call around locally and ask, or contact major salon-product manufacturers such as Redken and L’Oreal, and ask if they need models for their training centers. Although most are in NYC or Los Angeles, the manufacturers also know regional salons that act as special training centers for them.

3. Do Something Yourself. You can easily trim your own bangs, and if you have a straight, blunt cut, you can also trim your own locks or have a friend do them. Alternately, decide what’s most important to you—cut or color. Splurge for a great cut or dimensional color; keep the other element simple so you can either do a few trims at home between major cuts four times a year, or get your own single shade from a box of store-bought color.

4. Choose a Cut That Lasts Longer. Cuts with lots of layers, short pieces and angles are best left to a hairdresser, but if you get a simpler one that can grow a few inches, you can go longer between cuts. Generally, these cuts are below jaw-length and can grow out a few inches without looking bad, which means they should have intentionally shattered ends, not extremely precise, blunt ones.

5. Re-Touch Your Own Color. If you get a single shade that’s close to your own, you can brighten your color and add shine, but you can also touch-up the roots at home. Choose a box color carefully for a precise match or ask your hairdresser if he or she will give you a small amount of formula for a self-retouch, since you “travel a lot.” More salons than ever do this for clients who are frequently out of town; it never hurts to ask. If you really need to shave bucks from the beauty budget, from time to time, Greg Best Color Salon in Portland even offers classes in doing your own color the right way. A few others are following suit.

6. Grow it Out. Face it, long hair can look good longer between cuts, so if you look good in long hair, go for it. Products like Redken’s So Long line are intentionally formulated to keep long hair looking healthy or to help you grow to your locks and keep them looking great.

7. Change Your Style. If your bob is growing out and doesn’t look so sharp anymore, turn the ends under for a few weeks. Or, flip them up, which the extra length allows. You get a new look and no one will notice that your ends are no longer even. This can stretch times between appointments, allowing you visit a salon every eight weeks, as opposed to every four or six, depending on how fast your hair grows.

8. Try a Barber. Who says barber cuts are just for men? If you like a precision short cut or a razored one, barbers are great at delivering them and many charge as little as $8 to $10. Drop by, tell them what you want and mingle with the boys.

9. Make your haircolor last longer. Lenny LaCour, spa director for Spa de LaCour at The Bannockburn Club in Bannockburn, IL, says to use a leave-in conditioner with UV protection. "The sun's ultra-violet rays cause your hair color to fade much faster. By using a leave-in product with UV protection, you'll help it to last and remain vibrant longer."

10. Adjust your Highlights. For years, sophisticated, all-over highlights took hours to get; today, you can add just a few around your face and look just as fashionable. Have them made bigger, wider or a little brighter. This can take a color service from over $100 to $30. If the rest of your color is bright and shiny, it will still look great.

11. Master The Updo. When hair starts looking shaggy, many women start wearing back a ponytail. Instead, master a cool updo. You’ll look smart and sophisticated, and be able to extend those salon visits. If your hair is very short, slicking it straight back and molding a wave in front achieves the same end.

12. Spruce it up with Accessories. Another way to go longer between haircuts is to hide what’s wrong with accessories. Clip unruly layers back with barrettes or decorative hair pins. A headband hides a world of shaggy-hair sins; good thing they’re back in style.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on or anywhere else, please post a message on's Hair Talk Forums.

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