12 Ways to Trim the Cost of Haircuts

You want your hair to look healthy, and to be shaped in a way that flatters your face. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend big bucks.

Unless you desire tresses that fall to your waist, you’ll eventually need a haircut.

For some, this could mean spending anywhere from a handful of dollars to more than $100, depending on the stylist and where you live.

But there are many ways to remain stylish on a budget while maintaining the appearance of your mane.

Following are 12 tips for helping shave the costs associated with haircuts.

1. Find a cosmetology school

You can save 50 percent or more on the cost of a haircut at a local cosmetology or barber school.

Horrified by the thought of a student experimenting with your hair? Don’t be. They are well-supervised.

Cosmetology students must follow a rigorous curriculum in preparation to be licensed in their state. For instance, Illinois requires 1,500 hours of training at a licensed school before students can take the state licensing examination.

For a comprehensive directory of cosmetology schools nationwide, visit BeautySchoolsDirectory.com.

2. Visit a barber

Sporting a stylish but simple haircut? Skip the hair salon and visit a barber instead. They often charge much less.

3. Find coupons

If you’re loyal to a particular salon chain, visit its website to locate coupons to offset the cost of your next visit. If you don’t see any, call and ask.

Also, inquire about customer loyalty rewards programs. These can save you a nice sum of cash if you are a regular client.

4. Look for promotional offers

Take advantage of special pricing or discounts typically offered during busier periods.

Back-to-school season is here, and many salons are offering reduced-price haircuts, which can lower one of the costs incurred by parents for back-to-school necessities.

The holiday season is another period when customers can save big on haircuts.

5. Ask about group discounts

Ask your barber or stylist about group discounts that may apply if multiple members of your family go to the same shop. In this case, even a small discount can work wonders.

6. Seek out freelancers

Are you pals with a professional or retired stylist? Perhaps that person would be willing to cut your hair at his or her home for a much reduced rate.

7. Choose a low-maintenance style

Instead of aiming for an edgy style like that worn by your favorite celebrity, try one that requires minimal trimming.

Ask your cosmetologist about hairstyles that maintain a sleek appearance even when they begin to grow out. You could save hundreds of dollars in a single year on maintenance.

8. Scrap the loyalty

New beauty shops and new stylists fresh out of cosmetology school both want to create a buzz in the community. So, they may offer discounts to entice potential regular customers to stop by.

Also, consider going to a shop that charges less than your normal stylist for routine maintenance between major style changes or colorings.

9. Reduce blow-drying

Improperly using styling tools such as blow-dryers, curling irons and flat irons can damage your hair, requiring more visits to your hair care professional than you would otherwise need. WebMD provides tips for correctly using these styling tools.

10. Do it yourself

Many people cut their own hair or the hair of family members. This may involve routine maintenance (such as trimming off split ends or shortening bangs) or even more extensive cutting. For guys, going with the bald or nearly bald option may be a good look.

This article has some tips from professionals on how to cut your own hair. You’ll also find plenty of help on YouTube.

11. Be charitable

Some salons will offer you a free haircut in exchange for donating your cut-off mane to a charity, such as Locks of Love.

12. Spend wisely on hair care products

Don’t use cheap scissors if you trim your own hair, and don’t buy the cheapest blow-dryer or other tools if you want to maintain your hair’s health.

What about shampoo, conditioner and other products you apply to your hair? Lifehacker advises that you avoid certain harsh chemicals. But you don’t need to pay top dollar to get the best results. It says:

The benefit of paying more is pretty minor, in that pricier products generally include higher-quality ingredients. Pricier brands also tend to include essential oils, plant or fruit extracts, and botanicals (where cheaper brands do not). The hair care professionals we spoke to believe that these ingredients may only play a small role in the health of your hair. Instead, they felt you’ll find a more personal benefit in the texture and scent they provide. For example, a shampoo might use mint which smells nice and can help perk you up a little in the morning.

What tricks have you used to save on haircuts? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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  • Al Seaver

    I am fortunate enough to have a barber “college” nearby. Once a month it has a “senior day” where the haircuts for us old guys (and girls) are only $4. Cant beat that unless you shave you head yourself.

  • bigpinch

    Male or female. If you have curly or wavy hair of moderate length cutting it yourself is easy to learn and costs nothing. Experience is the best teacher. Curly hair is especially forgiving of mistakes and lack of expertise. Maintain it on an “as needed” basis. “If it sticks out, cut it off” is my motto. I haven’t been to a barber in 35 years and I still have enough of hair left that I get complements on how it looks.

  • Nancy

    My daughter cuts my son’s hair for free. As for me, three years ago I stopped paying for coloring and hightlights, but I do pay for cuts. However, I stopped going to the fancy salon and found someone who charges one-third the amount at a shop much closer to my home. I’ve chosen a simple style (an A style cut) that I can let grow out longer between trims. Instead of shampoos and conditioners, I wash my hair with baking soda and apply a rinse 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar and 2 drops of essential lemon oil in a glass of water. My fine hair is in the best condition it has ever been–soft and thicker looking. I used to spend over $1,400 a year on haircuts and coloring. Now I spend about $220 a year.

  • marcia

    My hairdresser gives me a great haircut every time. I’d never go anywhere else!

  • Y2KJillian

    Having ultrafine hair with just enough wave to mess up any cut, and decades of coming home from the salon disappointed, I finally just let it grow out, keep it trimmed below shoulder length (my husband snips off any ratty ends while I stand in the tub) and learned how to put it up with a HAIR FORK (instructions can be found online including a site called HAIR CLAWS), and can now actually put it up even with chopsticks, long sandwich skewers, pencils (a little slippery) or a bent wire piece (with the ends rounded). You can make your own or buy them…my hair never looks great–but then, it never did, not even after the most extensive and expensive salon “dos.” After a real failure getting a $60 “French Roll” at a salon for my niece’s wedding (27 bobby pins, a can of spray, and the hairdo was awful) I learned to do it myself.
    At least it’s never horrible. And I save all that money. I don’t dye it (having years ago tried many ways of coloring it including salon and home, everything from red to black to purple and back to brown) and I wash it with the same plain Dollar Tree soap I use in my bath and shower.
    The only think I don’t love about it is that being so fine, it does let strands loose when the car windows are down and it blows into my eyes and mouth. That’s solved by wearing a hat (that I made from a free online pattern and scraps of fabric) — I cut my husband’s hair with a comb, a scissors, and years of his tolerant allowing me to practice on him. It was learn to cut it or he was going to have either a ponytail or a buzz cut (he’s had both–I hate them).
    At night I put it up into a pony tail with a soft — uh — pony tail holder thing from WinCo. Very seldome I scrunch it while it dries and brush it out loose for a change–but it’s a little hot that way.

    • bigpinch

      Kudos to you for taking control. Try Dr. Bronner’s pure liquid castille soap for shampoo and body wash.

  • Lisa Bolton D’Amico

    Why is it every time someone writes an article about saving money – it includes “cut your own hair”? Don’t you realize that by doing this, you are taking money out of the pockets of every Barber, Stylist, and Beautician? No body ever says, be your own lawyer, do your own taxes, or fix your own car, etc …….. it is always cut your own hair !! I have been doing hair for almost 30 years, and I don’t cut my own hair! In my experience, even though there are a few that make boat loads of money doing hair, the majority make much much less!

    • Y2KJillian

      I’ve always done my own taxes, my husband fixes our own cars, we remodel our own house, I do my own interior decorating and curtain-making and other sewing, and we’ve completely repaired almost every system in our home ourselves, roofing, plumbing, countertops, flooring–the one thing we’ve not done is to rewire our service box although we’ve dabbled at it, it’s too frightening when the sparks start flying. As Judge Judy has said, if you get a bad haircut, you pay, you cry, and it grows out. That’s why it’s a low-damage thing to do by yourself. You cry and it grows out and you can do that for free. As for being my own lawyer, I do that, too, until something requires a license or certificate. Luckily, you can cut your own hair without anyone’s permission. And there are always hats.

  • Y2KJillian

    I always “care” what I look like; but only a very few professional hairdressers ever managed to do anything decent with my hair. Once I got a great “Dorothy Hamill” cut that actually fell right and moved right–then she went back to college to learn a “real” profession. (I was very sad; she was very good and I thought she was a real professional.) I used a woman who worked from her home, a pro hairdresser, and her cuts were OK but that was all they were, OK. And I had to put up with her little kids wiping their green-snot noses on my knee as I sat in her chair. After several bad colds I gave up on her at my husband’s request. Mostly I would cry when I got home from salons and hope it grew out fast–it never did. Once I got a great cut–until I washed it at home. Her careful blow-drying and styling had made the cut look great in the salon. The cut was actually quite bad. I’ve paid a little and I’ve paid a lot, and it only went well by accident, it seems.

  • whattarush

    Society puts too much value on hair. I’ve been getting a barber cut for years. My wife and I are wet-it-and-run kind of women. Nothing fancy. My mom on the other hand, used to pay us a nickel to brush her hair when we were little, so in essence, I think she is continuing to do that — paying for the experience. My mom doesn’t have much hair, but she is in a position where she can afford this luxury.

  • jr

    What a crock. Group discounts? How many are in your family? Scrap loyalty? I think that heading says it all! Unless I was dissatisfied with a barbar (yes, I said barber, not stylist), I prefer to be a loyal customer. Sort of like the idea of shopping locally. I am funny like that.

  • Keri Hat

    Local beauty schools? I have had my hair screwed up at the salon by so-called pros who have their license. My kids have left the barber looking hacked. Starting doing their hair at home and now I get better results. At $12 per haircut plus tip and transportation costs, I save over $500 a year. My guy trimming mine every other month @ $50, plus tip and transportation saves my budget about the same. And there are no bad haircuts that we need to go home and fix. My guy is great with the shears and clippers, so it may not be an option for others who aren’t so adept. But there are so many tutorials on You Tube, that there are great resources to learn. A license doesn’t guarantee they can give a good haircut, just that they pass the sanitary standards with clean equipment and work areas. And I’ve seen some where that went out the window after they passed the test. The cost of the clipper set, capes, neck strips cost me about $90 up front. My guy spent over $85 on the good shears he uses on my hair, plus hair clips, cape and styling combs were probably another $25. And he does get the shears sharpened every so often, using them only on hair, not paper or anything else. Good tools do make a difference and pay for themselves.

  • LagunaLady27

    For women with long hair, almost any licensed beautician can do a good job. But for those of us with short styles, this isn’t the case. Finding someone who does a good job and does not “forget” the style you want is tough. Once we do, changing is not an option. But I have reduced my costs in a simple way. Instead of having my hair cut every four weeks, I switched to five. Sometimes, if the haircut still works, I wait an additional week. Depending upon where you live, this can save hundreds each year.

  • Nancy

    Now that I’m retired, I’ve reduced spending in all areas. For this reason, I have stopped coloring and highlighting and have chosen a simple A-cut because I can go a week or two longer between cuts without looking scraggly. Because the cut isn’t complicated, I decided to give the person who cuts my husband’s hair a try, instead of going to the high-priced full-service salon. She cuts hair at her home so she can care for her ill husband. And she does a fine job. For hair care, I wash with baking soda and rinse with 2 teaspoons of vinegar in a glass of water. My hair has never been softer and healthier. And I’ve gone from spending $150 a month on hair to about $25.

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