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Save Money

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.

Pink blue hair and shave trim

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

Although there's no better feeling than getting yourself a fresh new trim. But, unfortunately, a trip to the hairdressers isn't known for being student-budget friendly.

The average cost of a haircut is around £5 – £20 at a barbers. Although, at a hair salon it can be anything between £20 – £100+, depending on what you're getting done and which salon you visit.

Over the years, we've gathered an extensive list of haircut spending hacks, including ways you can get a haircut for free.

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

How to save money on haircuts

Here's how to save money at the hairdressers and get a discount on regular haircuts:

  1. Become a hair model

    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 either. 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 practise adventurous styles will offer free haircuts to anyone willing to be a guinea pig.

    They'll always be supervised by someone more experienced, so the chances of something going wrong are low. That said, it is still 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 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 go without the fancy shampoos and mini head massages, 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 (a blunt bob, for example), as it creates sharper, more precise lines.

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

  3. Ditch big name salons

    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 those aren't the best places to visit when you're looking for a cheap haircut.

    Remember they cost way more than smaller local businesses. Unless you're going for a really adventurous catwalk style, we'd opt for the latter. Smaller salons are also more likely to offer free cuts to hair models (as we mentioned in our first tip).

    Heading a little out-of-town can save you money, too. Just don't forget to factor in the cost of the bus ride.

  4. Cut your hair less often

    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. 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. Choose your stylist

    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 can come with different price tags.

    If, say, a senior stylist cuts your hair, it will cost more than if a newly qualified junior stylist cuts it.

    Don't be scared to ask what options are available. 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 likely be working nine to five and only get weekends off.

    Try to take advantage of your flexible student schedule and book haircuts during the day on weekdays. This is especially helpful if you book online through third-party websites like Treatwell as these are 'off-peak' hours and haircuts will cost less.

    Some salons even offer a lower rate for those who can fill in 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 hairdresser training colleges

    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 free haircut.

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

    Some big-name salons also have training salons in their bigger branches. It's worth having a Google to see whether there's one of these nearby.

  8. Ask about student discounts

    All businesses love students, and many will offer some great incentives to get you to book through them.

    Armed with your trusty student card, you'll be able to get some serious discounts on haircuts. For example, budget hairdressing chain Supercuts offers 10% off for all UK students!

    To make sure you're getting the best deal, compare prices across salons after the discount has been applied. 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 family. But they probably won't mind if you ask 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 cut more during their time off. But as you'll be offering them some extra income, they could be up for it.

  10. Change your hairdresser frequently

    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 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

    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 YouTube tutorial videos first and keep it simple the first time you give it a try. Oh, and check out some of the viral 'DIY haircut goes wrong' videos too so you know what not to do.

  12. Take better care of your locks

    woman blowdrying her hair
    You're much more likely to find yourself in a hair SOS if you fail to take care of your locks. 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!). But if you really must use heated products, 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 glossy, healthy hair.

  13. Choose a low-maintenance hairstyle

    We're not here to tell you how to style your hair, but some hairstyles require less maintenance than others.

    Longer hairstyles can be left for more time between cuts than short ones. Plus, fringes have a tendency to cause unnecessary bother.

    If you're a fan of a fringe, we'd recommend investing in some hairdressing scissors. Otherwise, you'll be spending a bomb on trims to keep it neat.

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

  14. Check discount sites

    Student discounts aside, you can often find loads of great offers on discount sites (especially daily deal sites) or local newspapers. Keep your eyes peeled.

    Keep checking our health and beauty discounts. We post deals on a daily basis and you often have to get in there quick to take advantage of them. Or join our Telegram group to get the deals straight to your phone – that way, you'll never miss out!

  15. Book a group haircut

    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 haircuts instead of one, they're more likely to offer you a group discount. There will always be someone else needing their hair cut around the same time, so ask around.

    Some salons also offer referral discounts, 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.

  16. Use home-visit hairdressers

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

    Many hairdressers (particularly freelance ones) 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 Marketplace. You'll be surprised how many will be working in your area.

If it's a big chop, you could even sell or donate your hair to charity.

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