I have another confession to make. It’s probably the number one reason why I never fit in as a true Southerner growing up in Kentucky. Ready?…. I hate to have my hair done. I have naturally straight, thin, brown hair. My Mom always loved big hair, even before big hair was a thing. She started me on perms when I was in 5th grade. Highlights followed. Until I was in my early 20’s, I had a standing haircut, color, or perm appointment every 3 months. It was more regular than the dentist!
I gave most of that up a long time ago, but I do still enjoy the results of a good color job and a new haircut. We all know it’s easy to spend a small fortune on personal care, but I don’t think it has to be that way. I though it would be fun to compare the cheap DIY routine of Great Clips and Sally Beauty vs going to the actual salon.
In A Perfect World
If life were as it was supposed to be, I’d just cut my hair really short and let it go gray. I am OK with getting older, but I’m not ready to let it go to that just yet. Although brown is my natural color, I really believe I was meant to be a red head. It’s hard to find a stylist who is willing to dye my hair red. I’m not sure why, but that’s my experience. Let’s just say I have had some interesting colors over the years, either from home experimentation or from stylists who could not commit.
The Salon Experience
I’ve mostly used the same hair stylist for over a decade. I found Sandy through a recommendation years ago. She really understands me and is not afraid to dye my hair red. She looks the part too, with her hair always styled and nails done. When I go to her salon, it’s a very relaxing environment. She has background music, filtered water, and a shabby chic decor. In the evenings, she even offers wine or champagne. Her salon is full service and offers any sort of hair treatment, manicures, pedicures, waxing, tanning, extensions, etc. It usually takes about an hour and a half to two hours to get a shampoo, color, cut, and blow dry. It costs around $100 including tip.
I realize BFE, Colorado is not the most expensive place to get a hair style. Back in our spending days, I once went to a fancy salon in Las Vegas. My stylist was a very tall European fellow who had his own army of shampoo girls. Mostly, I remember his enormous shoes. They were those pointy toe kind that most American men could not pull off. I remember thinking they could double as gondolas at the Venetian. Anyway, that appointment took over 2 hours, set me back $250, and I didn’t even get a color.
As of last week, I hadn’t had a hair cut in over 6 months. I looked like a shaggy dog and my hair color was kind of between brown and hay yellow. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Great Clips is kind of like the McDonald’s for haircuts. They don’t do coloring or any other salon services. I got a coupon in the mail for a $7.99 haircut and thought I’d go for it.
You never need an appointment at Great Clips. I walked in and had maybe a 3 minute wait. You get whoever is the next stylist in line. There were two ladies working when I went in. One of them looked normal. The other one, well, I’m not sure if she cuts her own hair, but it reminded me of a cross between a mullet and Mohawk. It was dark at the roots and bright orange at the tips. Maybe that’s cool with the younger set? Let’s just say I was relieved when I got the normal looking one.
The decor at Great Clips is gray, literally. All the chairs, counters, floors, and cabinets are gray. The furniture could have come from a box at Office Depot. The overhead lights are super bright fluorescents. The most colorful thing, aside from the one stylist’s hair, was the display of hair products for sale.
My stylist asked me how I wanted my hair to be cut. I asked just to have the ends trimmed up, maybe one or two inches off the bottom. She wet my hair with a spray bottle and went to work. We chatted a bit about our kids. She was nice and efficient. It took about 10 minutes. I went up to the counter to pay and was charged exactly $7.99. I gave a $2 tip, which felt cheap, but I’m never sure what to do with tips on low cost services. She did try to sell me a conditioner from the store, but I declined. It wasn’t a memorable or particularly relaxing experience, but it was fast and cheap.
Sally Beauty Supply
A Sally store opened up in our town about 6 months ago. I was anxious to try it out. If you are unfamiliar, Sally sells hair and cosmetic products like a stylist would order. I do color my own hair from time to time, usually when I need to look presentable and haven’t been in to see Sandy in forever.
I bought a color and cream developer with a bottle to mix them in. I also bought a pair of disposable gloves. The grand total came to $8.14. You can actually get cheaper colors, but I chose to try the soy based one. I’m glad because it didn’t smell nearly as bad as the regular ones.
It took me about 10 minutes to get everything mixed and on my head. I did some laundry and scheduled a blog post while I was waiting the 35 minutes for the color to set. Then, I jumped in the shower and rinsed it all of. For a type-A, it’s really, really hard to sit for over an hour to get your hair done. I loved being able to multi-task while doing it at home.
The salon wins hands down for atmosphere. Great Clips is very utilitarian while Sandy’s place feels like a warm cocoon.
Great Clips and Sally win hands down for price. If you want a basic hair cut and don’t mind getting dye on yourself, it’s awesome. If you are someone who would freak out if your hair comes out a different shade than you thought, I would not try this at home. Also, if I wanted a more elaborate haircut or hairstyle, I would not go to Great Clips. For under $20, you kind of get what you pay for.
For the time involved, the cheap approach works much better as well. I like being able to walk in without an appointment, and I love being able to get housework done while my hair was changing colors. I’ll probably always go to the salon off and on, but if you’re on a budget or just don’t have much time, the cheap route is certainly more than adequate. After all, hair always grows back and dye always fades. What do you have to lose?
Do you DIY for hair care? Ever had a bad hair cut or color job?