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How to Save Money by Skipping the Hairstylist (and When)


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Talk about hating paperwork: Four in ten Americans would rather cut their own hair than do their taxes without the help of an accountant.

Actually, we would rather not pay anyone to do something we could do ourselves. So, in our DIY or Not series, we convince the experts to give us the inside scoop on when we do — and when we don’t — need to pay them a visit, plus tips on how to DIY well.

In our first story we asked an accountant when it’s OK to do your own taxes. But now, since spring is the perfect time to freshen up your look, it’s a also great time to cut down on those pesky hair expenses. We just want to make sure you don’t find yourself in a tough spot (or with a terrible haircut).

To get the facts on the rules and tips for doing your own hair without penalty to your self-esteem or social life, we talked to Eugene Toye, a stylist at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City.

Here’s what he told us:

Don’t visit me if:

You’re handy with the blow dryer. Getting your hair blown out for a special event is one of the least essential salon services. Most salons include a blow dry in the price of the service, but other places like the Hair Cuttery will charge less if you forgo the hot air. Note: If you’re doing it at home, be wary of “salon grade” hair dryers and tools. They come with professional grade heat, which could burn.

To read more about when to skip a hair stylist, read on.

You need to straighten out . . . your hair, that is. If you have “virgin hair”—hair that’s free of highlights and other treatments—you could try a home straightening treatment, like this well-reviewed relaxer by PHYTO. Before doing your whole head, test it on a small patch of hair. Most women love the results of an at-home relaxer, but some experience occasional negative side effects.

You want extra tresses. Normal clip-on hair extensions you’d find in the store can give you long, lush locks for a short time. Of course, find a good color match for your hair so you’ll look classy, not trashy.

Visit me if:

You’re looking for highlights. It’s one thing to use temporary hair dye, but putting bleach on your hair is another. And screwing up is costly: Color correction for clients who have highlighted their own hair can be one of the most expensive items on a salon’s menu.

Your craving a perm. Perms may be back in style, but they aren’t any easier than the first time around. Don’t do anything yourself that could result in long-term damage. (“Perm” is short for permanent. ‘Nuff said.)

You need a haircut. Hair cutting is the last thing you should do yourself. Trimming split ends might be viable for the rare woman with a long, straight, non-layered ’do (or movie characters going through dramatic life changes), but most of us require more layered haircuts to show our face to its best advantage. Leave this to someone who knows what he’s doing and has the right tools, like razors and good-quality scissors.

Maybe visit me if:

You need to trim your bangs. It’s not rocket science to trim your own bangs, but it’s hard to achieve the same precision as your stylist when it’s just you in a bathroom (with higher odds of screwing up). And there’s not much to lose by going in: Many stylists will trim your bangs for free as a thanks for being a customer. Opinions differ on tipping, but about $5 is standard.

You want semi-permanent color. Hair coloring can cost a lot, especially if you go in every few months. Using color from the box means that you won’t benefit from a professional’s color recommendations and touch, but semi-permanent color rinses out over a few weeks, so it’s a good option for changing up your look without the huge risk. (Try one of these six at-home dyes.)

A good rule of thumb is not to do anything permanent on your own, since it will be harder, and more harmful to your hair, to fix. Try out any new colors or relaxers on small bits of hair before going all out, and just use your best judgment when deciding whether a salon visit makes the most sense for you.

Also find out what products you should pick up during your salon visit, and which ones you can get right over the counter. Check out our recommendations here.

Source: Thinkstock
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