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16 ways to get a cheap or free haircut

Wondering how your student budget is going to stretch to a new do? With these nifty tricks, you can get a cheap (or free!) haircut that won't break the bank.

Hairdresser haircut pink blue hair shave trim

Credit: Focus and Blur (left), Serhii Bobyk (right) - Shutterstock

Although there's no better feeling than getting yourself a fresh new trim, a trip to the hairdressers is not known for being friendly to a student budget.

The average cost of a haircut is around £5 – 15 at a barber, but at a hair salon it can be anything between £20 – £100 (or more), depending on what you're getting done and whether you go for a high-end salon.

Over the years, we've gathered an extensive list of haircut spending hacks, including ways you can get a haircut for free – you'll never pay full wack to get a trim ever again!

Check out these great homemade beauty treatments while you're at it – you can have a full pamper day for pennies.

16 tips for cutting the cost of a haircut

  1. Become a hair model

    The Office US Dwight Schrute in wig

    Credit: NBC

    This might sound far-fetched, but it's actually a really smart way to get a completely free haircut!

    You don't need to be the body double of Kate Moss or Brad Pitt to sign up for this hair modelling stuff – you just need to let whoever is doing your locks take charge, and not be too fussy about what you want.

    The deal is that hairdressers wanting to practice particularly adventurous haircuts will offer free cuts to anyone willing to be a guinea pig.

    They'll always be supervised by someone more experienced, so the chances of something going amiss is low. That said, it's always a risk, so this might not be the best option if you've got a big event or job interview coming up!

    Keep an eye out for posters or leaflets in salons, or just pop into some local hairdressers to ask.

  2. Opt for a dry cut

    dog getting shampoo
    For some, getting your hair washed is part-and-parcel of the haircut deal. However, if you sacrifice the fancy shampoos and mini head massage that come with a hair wash, you can save yourself a packet.

    In fact, in some cases getting a dry cut is actually better than a wet cut.

    Experts say that cutting with wet hair is better for those with straight hair or those whose hair is all one length – those with a blunt bob for instance – as it creates sharper, more precise lines.

    However, for those who wear their hair in its natural curls, a dry cut can be better as the hairdresser can see how your hair curls as they're cutting, and can work around that.

  3. Ditch big name salons

    hair salon hairdresser interior

    Credit: ariadna de raadt– Shutterstock

    We've always suggested ditching big brand names when food shopping and the same goes for getting your hair snipped.

    The high street is full of big names vying for your attention – Vidal Sassoon, TONI&GUY, the list goes on...

    But remember that they cost way more than smaller local businesses, and unless you're going for a really adventurous catwalk style, we'd opt for the latter (also note that smaller salons offer free cuts to hair models, so if you fancy something outlandish, get it that way for free!).

    It's also true that heading a little out-of-town can save you loads too (although don't forget to factor in the cost of the bus ride too!).

  4. Cut your hair less often

    afghan hound long hair dog

    Credit: WildStrawberry – Shutterstock

    Many hairdressers will have you believe that you need a cut every six weeks, but this is more to keep them in a job than anything else!

    A good haircut can last as long as three months, and obviously the more you get chopped off, the longer it'll take for you to feel like you need another trim. So, be brave and get more off the length to make it last!

  5. Check your options

    hairdresser blow dry at hair salon

    You’d be forgiven for thinking that getting your hair cut would be a fairly simple business, but there are all kinds of options available which could come with wildly different price tags.

    If you have a senior stylist cut your hair, for example, it will be a much higher price than if a newly qualified 'junior' stylist cut it.

    Don’t be scared to ask what options are available, and how you could qualify for a cheaper cut – you could end up paying double the price to have one member of staff cut your hair rather than another.

  6. Get your hair cut on a weekday

    barber cutting hair with razor

    It's easy to forget that when you're not a student, you'll most likely be working nine to five and only get weekends off.

    Take advantage of your flexibility as a student and book your haircuts during the week.

    Some salons will even offer a lower rate for those who can fill in any last-minute gaps if they've had cancellations – these are normally referred to as 'standby cuts'. Once you've established a good relationship with a salon, ask if they'll put you on the standby list.

  7. Use training colleges

    model heads with wigs for training

    There are hundreds of students training to be hairdressers in colleges around the UK, and they're desperate for volunteers who'll help them practice their skills while getting a haircut free of charge.

    There's only so much practising trainee hairdressers can do on dolls before it's time to move onto the real thing.

    Trainees are always well supervised, so there's no need to worry about having your head shaved spontaneously. However, it might take a bit longer than you're used to, so set some extra time aside.

  8. Ask about student discounts

    student discount meme

    Credit: New Line Cinema

    All businesses love students, and many will offer some tasty incentives to get your custom. Armed with your trusty student card, you'll be able to get some serious discounts on your haircuts. For example, budget hairdressing chain Supercuts offers 10% off for all UK students!

    Just be mindful to compare prices across salons after the discount has been applied so you know you're definitely getting the best deal – there's no use having a 30% discount if the cut was £200 to start with!

  9. Take advantage of qualified friends

    Phoebe cuts Monica hair Friends

    Credit: Warner Bros

    Your best friend is a qualified or trainee hairdresser, you say? Your stepdad works in a salon? Get using those contacts!

    Never expect anything for free, even from friends and fam, but they probably won't mind if you enquire about their 'mates rates'.

    There's a chance that they have to cut so much hair at work that the last thing they'll want to do is more during their time off. But as you'll be offering them some extra income, they should be up for it!

  10. Change your hairdresser frequently

    barber haircut trim with razor

    When you find a hair salon or barbers that you like, we know it's easy to stick with it for months or even years. You might even build up a pretty good friendship with your favourite hairdresser.

    But remember that places will often offer special discounts for first-time customers, so if you don't change it up every now and then, you'll be missing out. Have a shop around for the best new customer deals and try them out the next time you need a cut.

    Don't worry, your old hairdresser won't take it personally!

  11. Cut your own hair

    bad DIY haircut viral video

    Credit: Facebook/양수빈

    Okay, just to be clear – this option requires a certain amount of bravery, some initial preparation and funds to set yourself up.

    Before you do anything else, you must invest in some good quality hairdressing scissors if you're going to attempt this. Anything else will end in tears.

    Check out the hundreds of YouTube tutorial videos available online first and keep it simple the first time you give it a try. Oh, and check out some of the viral 'DIY cut goes wrong' so you know what NOT to do.

If it's a big chop, you could even sell or donate your hair to charity.
  1. Take better care of your locks

    hairdryer blow dry hair

    You're much more likely to find yourself in a hair SOS if you fail to take care of your tresses. Treat them well and you can stretch out the time between cuts massively.

    There's no need to blow dry or straighten your hair every single day (see next point!) and if you really must use heated products, be sure to apply heat protection spray.

    Wash and brush well, don't mess around with hair dyes and bleaches, and you'll be well on your way to super glossy, healthy hair.

  2. Choose a low-maintenance style

    Anchorman I look good meme

    Credit: DreamWorks Pictures

    Not that we're trying to tell you how you should style your hair, but naturally some hairstyles will require less maintenance than others.

    Longer hairstyles can be left for much longer between cuts than short ones can, and fringes always have a tendency to cause unnecessary bother – if you're a fan of a fringe we'd definitely recommend investing in some hairdressing scissors, otherwise you'll be spending a bomb on trims to keep it neat.

    If you're unsure of how to style your barnet so it's hassle-free, just ask your stylist for advice. They'd rather keep your custom long-term than give you false advice.

  3. Scour discount sites

    Sale 100 sign

    Student discounts aside, you can often find loads of great offers on websites (especially daily deal sites) or local newspapers, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.

    Keep checking our health and beauty discounts section. We post deals on a daily basis and often you have to get in there quick to take advantage of them. Or join our WhatsApp group to get the deals straight to your phone!

  4. Double up with friends

    Monica and Rachel bad hair flashback Friends

    Credit: Warner Bros

    Most of your uni friends are going to need a haircut at some point too, so why not buddy up.

    If you ring up a salon offering to book five cuts instead of one, they're much more likely to offer you a group discount. There's always someone who'll be needing their hair cut round about the same time, so ask around.

    Some salons also offer referral discounts now, where you get a discount for referring a friend, and your friend gets a discount on their first cut too! There's no harm in asking next time you're getting a trim.

  5. Use home-visit hairdressers

    row of terrace houses

    Credit: Manchesterphotos - Wikimedia

    Feeling lazy? Home-visit mobile hairdressers could be the answer!

    Many professionals and particularly freelance hairdressers now offer to cut your hair in the comfort of your own home, and because they're not paying to be part of a salon you can save up to 50% on standard prices.

    To source home hairdressers, try searching online, on Gumtree or on Facebook – you'll be surprised how many will be working in your area!

Getting your hair cut is a great mood booster and a good way of looking after your mental health at university – make sure you take time to look after yourself. 

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