Need A New Haircut for the New Year? Save 75%

Beauty schools offer great services and haircuts at steep discounts. Courtesy of www.Jan-Leasure.com

You don’t want a $50 haircut on a 50-cent head!” – Garrison Keilor

I didn’t call him, but Garrison Keilor seems adverse to putting an expensive haircut on a brainless head? That’s my interpretation anyway, however, a good haircut, whether it costs you $5 or $50 is worth it’s weight in gold. Especially in our economy, looking good and feeling good are two important weapons against feeling depressed because of job loss and feeling financially helpless as the economy spins out of control. When it comes right down to it, sometimes there is little that we have control over except our attitude and how we look.

Looking and feeling well-manicured so you can face a new day or a job interview can seem unmanageable when funds are so low that every cent is needed to put food on the table.  However, there are alternatives to the $50 – $100 haircut.  Here’s what I learned recently.

Pampered for Pennies!

When I was in third grade my grandmother and my mom took me to a local Chicago beauty school and treated me to a $5 perm. I will preface this story with the fact that I am Italian and I have huge hair to begin with, although it is straight as a pin and I always wanted curls.  “Curls it is!” said my mom as we drove off to gather up my grandma and hit the beauty school.

Several hundred tiny perm rollers, gallons of smelly solution and six hours later, I emerged with hair sooooo big that in my mind although my body fit through the doorway, my hair might not follow.  Not a great look or feeling for a third grader! This experience soured me on gambling on discount beauty school services for a long time. My stylist was inexperienced, although I remember her as very hard working and eager to please and horrified at the look of shock on my face when she unfurled my new do. (I looked like an eight-year9old Martha Washington on crack, or possibly a little white Angela Davis for those of you who remember the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society, circa 1970). 

I eventually recovered, and like Scarlet O’Hara believe that, “Tomorrow is another day!” So, although I haven’t had a perm since third grade, I’m all-in for saving money on great haircuts and beauty services, especially if this was the first item eliminated from your budget in recent months. I think that feeling like you look your best can be your best asset for pumping up your self confidence at a job interview, it can even increase productivity at your current job to help you stay employed. (Just my opinion here, feel free to disagree…..)

I was motivated to research my “beauty school theory” because there is a She-she a stone’s throw from my office in my home town and paying $13 for a haircut versus $60 is a magnetic draw for me.

The Tricoci salons were merged with the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons a number of years ago, but the original owners, the Tricoci brothers still own the schools. All Tricoci schools are located in Illinois. They offer hair cutting, coloring, perms and spa services that include manicures, pedicures, facials and various hand and foot treatments all at discounts of more than 50 percent from the regular spa prices.  If you live near one of the Illinois locations I think it’s worth a try to squeeze a little more out of your beauty dollar.

I don’t think you will have a repeat of my third grade experience. Stylists are carefully supervised in beauty schools today, sometimes with more than one experienced instructor checking out their works in progress. However, there is a price to pay for the discounts.

  1. Call ahead to see if your school takes appointments, but not all students are available for appointments.
  2. Schools don’t always have parking as convenient as salons, so be prepared to walk and carry an umbrella!
  3. Usually schools are “first come first serve” so it is advisable to plan to go on a day off. Arrive when the school opens and get your name on the list.  If you can’t get in right away, you can be put on a list. Then go run some errands and come back.
  4. Expect for the service to take longer than normal because your “student” will want to get the service right.
  5. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your stylist. Students need feedback in order to improve, that is the point of the school.
  6. If you have a problem report it immediately. Don’t go home disgruntled. Students are there to learn.
  7. If you are delighted, make sure that the student and the instructors know. Positive feedback helps in so many ways.
  8. Always ask before you tip. Tips in a regular salon are the bread and butter of your stylist, however, some schools do not allow students to receive tips. Ask at the desk first to avoid an uncomfortable situation.

Mario salons are not the only ones, and because our readers are everywhere, I found a great site to help you find a beauty school near you. Check out this site.


This site lets you track down beauty schools right in your own zip code if they exist. They also give you information on various services that you can investigate. If you have a good beauty school experience and want to share it with other readers please do so! (Share the Good, the Bad & the Ugly!)

We are all in this together. I would love to hear how you are comparison shopping in these down times. 

Jacque January 04, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Great tip! Thanks Jan. I went once in Pensylvania as a teenager, but had forgotten about that. That is a great way to save some cash.
Jan Leasure January 04, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Our local Mario "university" offers more than haircuts also--they even have some spa services. A friend of mine just called to tell me that last month she and her daughter got a special: two manicures/two pedicures for $20! Can't beat that! ;)
Patty January 04, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Great ideas - although, the one splurge I have is my monthly haircut/highlight. I could maybe see doing this if you just need a trim (or for kids) or a manicure but I can't imagine letting a student touch my hair - ahhh! They're probably really good but I've it's hard to let go of a good stylist to try someone else, even if they are cheaper.
John Bloss January 04, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I went to the same barber for eleven years and always got a poor to medium poor haircut, but I enjoyed talking with Jim, so I kept coming back. I'm guessing he thought I looked good when I left. Jim passed away about 5 years ago and I spent over a year trying out new barber shops. I have found a new barber, acually a stylist, and now I get a "fabulous cut" every time. People no longer think I am in the Army because I have a strange haircut. Finding some one who you think makes you look good is not as easy as it would seem. John
Darcy Webb March 20, 2014 at 10:26 AM
Wow, saving 75% on a haircut seems like a really good deal to me. Especially if you are looking to get a perm or a dye. I would really like to try getting some highlights for my hair this summer. I also wouldn't mind having a shorter looking hair style as well. http://www.Cosmotechschool.com


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