Sep 5, 2008

Money Saving Tip: Get your hair cut at a beauty school

See the end of this post for an update.

I've never seen a study on the average price for a hair cut, but I'd wager that prices here in Los Angeles are higher than almost anywhere else. I could easily find a salon in Beverly Hills that charges over $400, and even a relatively inexpensive salon charges over $60. My last hair cut was supposed to be a bargain, but after tip it came to $85. And I wasn't even that happy with it.

Between the cost and the time, I've been getting my hair cut every 9 to 12 months since Alex was born. The last time I cut my hair was last November, when I lopped off a 10-inch ponytail and donated it to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program.

I thought about donating my hair again, but I just couldn't wait for my hair to grow any longer this time. Like I said, I wasn't thrilled with my last cut, and I hated the way it was growing out. And I definitely wasn't going back to the same salon.

Because I get my hair cut so infrequently, I haven't had a regular stylist in years. So this time, I decided to act on a frugal tip I've come across multiple times: go to a beauty school. It just so happens that there's a conveniently located Paul Mitchell School, where cuts by a "Phase 2" stylist are a mere $17. I learned that Phase 2 stylists are in the top 5% of their class and have at least 1000 hours of experience on the floor. Phase 1 stylists are everyone else at the school, and they charge $12.

I decided to pay the extra $5 for a Phase 2 stylist, and my hair was cut by a woman who graduates this month. She was a little bit slow on the cutting, and didn't have the deftness that I'm used to seeing. But she made up the time blow-drying my hair, which took a lot less time than it usually does, probably because she didn't try to do anything fancy. I appreciate that she really listened to what I asked for (no short layers that irritate my cheeks) and I'm as satisfied with my $22 cut (I tipped her $5) as I was with the $85 cut I got in November. And, I'm a lot happier than I was when I tried Super Cuts for the first and last time, where the stylist decided that I needed bangs even though I hadn't asked for them and lopped off inches in front before I could stop her.

I do think I would be a little bit more cautious if I wanted a perm or color treatment, but even then, I think a Phase 2 stylist would probably be okay. I could see the "Color Bar" where they mix colors from where I was sitting, but everyone around me was getting a cut or just a blow out. I couldn't see the back of the salon where they must have been doing perms and color, so I don't really know how that went for the customers who wanted it. But during the hour that I was there, I didn't hear anyone complaining about their hair or see anyone whose hair looked, well, wrong.

I don't know when I'll cut my hair again, but since it's a little longer than usual after a cut, my next hair cut will be sooner rather than later. And I'm definitely going back to the Paul Mitchell School for it.

Update Feb. 2009: I got a hair cut this month and didn't go back to the Paul Mitchell School. As it grew out, the cut didn't maintain the shape I would have expected, and I decided that a truly good hair cut is worth spending money on.


Angela S said...

In the college town we lived in for a nice while we learned about beauty schools and not all are created equal. I've found those that no way I won't go to and those that are ok. I also learned to always ask for an advanced senior or phase two or whatever. Anyway we got a Paul Mitchel school there and PM schools really are different from most other schools. Obviously look and feel will be different but so is what and how they are taught. Ours was $8 for phase 1s and $13 for phase 2s (SE Idaho). In the two years that I went there I had cut, color and perm done at various times. It was very well done and you just feel more comfortable with the nearly graduated students. A color and cut was like $35. My perm was around $30 or $35. And our location a few times a year would sell $30 gift certs for only $20 so I always stocked up then.

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

Both DH and I (and older DD) go to the local Gene Juarez academy. We've all gotten great cuts. Yes, they take longer, but you can't beat the price. And a staff instructor always checks the student's work before during and after.

Brittany said...

I've never heard of the Pantene place to donate hair. Enlighten me, please!

My dd has donated twice to locks-of-love. My 2nd dd plans to donate as soon as her hair is long enough.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great tip! I just moved to a new town and haven't found anyone to cut my hair yet. I don't get my hair cut all that often and have a pretty simple cut so though the DH isn't too sure about this option, I'm all for it. I looked up on PM's website and there's a school just down the road from us! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

We unfortunately don't have any of the Paul Mitchel schools near us. We're WAY too remote for that. The only beauty schools we do have are at vocational schools. However they do often offer totally free haircuts and styles if you're willing to allow them to use you in the class. To some degree there is a bit of risk involved because these students don't have the hours in and they essentially need YOU as their practice model. However the instructor always stands right there as well as the rest of the class and discusses how to do the cut or style. The downside is because of the lecture it takes a long time. However it's certainly no worse than a lot of the cuts I've had at Mastercuts, or Supercuts, and you feel good about helping the students and the program.

I will admit though that this past month, for the first time in my life I became established with a hair stylist! I'm so excited. I knew things were bad when the women at work would pick on me about my infrequent trips to Mastercuts. They all informed me that it was best a professional working woman get established with a stylist that will really get to know them and their hair. I found a place last week on a recommendation from a coworker and I love it. The stylist and owner dealt with a lot of my insecurities and I made sure I left the appointment with the next appointment scheduled so I wouldn't go 6 months between hair appointments.

I do have to breathe a sigh of relief though...even with the personal stylist it's still only $25 for a cut where I live. I'm not sure what I'd do if it were $85. I think I'd wait a year between cuts!

HorrorCraft said...

There are 2 beauty schools across town that are fairly good. The schools on my side of town are downright scary.
Honors is better with cuts, and Excel is better with facials and waxes.

For $35 I can get a mini-facial, an arch wax, and a cut. That does include the extra $5.00 fee because I have long hair and tip.

I only visit them twice a year and maintain my bangs and eyebrows the rest of the year.

My only gripe is when I tell them I want my bangs cut mid-forhead, it somehow interprets to one inch from hair line. I have a big forhead, it shouldn't be an issue.

I literally will scratch my forehead with my nail to leave a welt as a marker, and they still cut them too short.

Thanks for the tip about Pantene's Program. I've been considering Locks of Love once my hair reaches my waist. So it's nice to know that I have a choice where my hair goes.

Unknown said...

For anyone wanting to know more on Pantenes donation program read this page The program has picked up after the negative press on Locks of Love.