Your Hair is a Money-Pit #1 – Start With a Frugal Hair Style


After her last guest post (about clothing), I asked Kathy if she’d again be willing and generous enough to contribute to my blog. Her last article was great. Also, the majority of my regular readers are female. I spent a very nice Mother’s Day in the company of my Mom who is one of my regular readers, so I wanted to share a Mom-friendly topic. Kathy sent me a huge article composed of three parts that I’ve split into as many posts. Enjoy! (Guys, again, sorry. But it’s pretty much “Frugal Hair Week”).

I care a lot about my appearance, especially my hair. As a female in my twenties I feel it is just one of those things that I am allowed to make a fuss about. I do not enjoy feeling like I don’t have the cash to make said fusses and so I do my best to keep my girly beauty drama as far away from my wallet as possible. It is really easy to spend way too much money on hair care considering the extraordinarily expensive cuts (that vary in maintenance costs), the high-cost styling tools every woman feels obliged to have (as though they’re all essential tools in some kind of arsenal), and the plethora of product options (which all seem to be at ridiculous prices). In this it sure feels like the odds are against you if you want to have stunning locks and be frugal about it. The good news is that it is possible. The even better news; I’m going to share how I manage this conundrum and I hope it’ll help you, too.

#1 – Start with a Frugal Hairstyle

Not all hair styles are equal. Some are ugly, some are pretty. Some are expensive, some are frugal. I know it sounds weird, but factors such as length, color, texture and trend all have a huge impact on how much you dole out on hair care over time.

Length has a big impact on how often you go to the salon to get your hair cut. So let’s say there are 4 ranges in length. Short includes everything from cute pixie cuts to jaw length bob styles. Mid length includes longer bob styles to shoulder length layers. Long includes anything below the shoulder and the final category is bald or buzzed which is pretty self-explanatory. In general, the longer your hair is the more finance-friendly it is. Exceptions to the rule are those with a bald or buzz cut. Why? Well, simply because it is an easy style to touch up at home (generally guys prefer such styles much more than ladies). Regardless of your overall hair length, if your look includes a ‘hair tattoo’ you go to the end of the line because that is something extremely difficult to maintain on your own and you look like a character from The Hunger Games.

Colour is the next big factor in how much your style will cost to maintain. There are 5 options in this department. Natural, ‘non-hair’ colours, highlights/lowlights, similar full colour, and drastic full colour. What I call ‘non-hair’ colours includes anything that isn’t naturally occurring in humans and it is the most difficult to maintain because it tends to fade out and look unkempt the soonest – and again you’ll look like a character from The Hunger Games. Drastic full colour looks (ex: a brunette getting all over platinum blond) is the second most costly because your roots are noticeable very quickly and touching them up can really add up (I’m guilty on this one). Next up is a tie between similar full colour and highlights/lowlights. Getting a similar full colour or highlights/lowlights means your roots aren’t as obvious when your hair grows out which means you can go to the salon about half as often as a drastic full colour. Now if you are the lucky gal blessed with a stunning natural hair colour then 1. I’m jealous and 2. you totally win for finance friendly colour. No colour is the way to save.

Texture is next on the list and has a lot to do with your personal preference (and genetics). This one is pretty straight forward. If you like your natural hair texture like I do, good! Embrace your natural texture – you’ll save money.  Getting a straight or wave/curl perm is always going to mean dropping the big bucks. If your texture problem is just thick hair then just make sure when you go in for your regular cut the stylist is competent in dealing that type of hair (which they should be if they are experienced and well-trained).

Finally we get to trend as a factor in hair style affordability. Again this has a lot to do with your preference although it does relate to length too. The ‘so in right now’ styles tend to need more upkeep and are frequently shorter styles. Trend being what it is means that it is changing all the time and consequently puts you back at the salon getting updates more, too. This doesn’t mean if you want to save a few bucks that you are stuck with less-than-fabulous hair, though! There are certain ‘classic’ hair styles that never seem to go out of style. Generally these are longer looks so it’s a double win in your wallet. Of course if you have short hair but want to get into a longer style and your hair isn’t growing fast enough for you then getting extensions of any sort can really break the bank so here’s my advice: think really hard about it before you get the latest trendy haircut. Pick a timeless finance-smart hairstyle! [Editor Joe’s note: Kathy totally snuck the name of the blog into that sentence. Nice.]

What’s the most affordable hairstyle to have?

A longer, classic style in your natural hair colour and texture.

I like to think I’m doing OK with a good three out of four here. Sorry wallet! There is no way I am giving up dying my hair to that perfect light platinum I covet!

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13 Comments… Share your views

  1. I get my Wife to cut my hair! Its affordable if you buy a haircut kit at Walmart or wherever for 20ish bucks.

    • Nice Sam! I think that is awesome. You can get a reasonable hair cutting kit for anywhere from $15 to $30 bucks so if your style suits an easy to maintain style then kudos to you! Typically the home hair cut is most easily managed with men’s cuts and women with longer hair but no layers. I highly recommend doing as much hair maintenance at home as reasonable since going somewhere always means a big mark up.

  2. Has anyone ever noticed how women always end up paying more for practically everything? With me and my hair, I got to the point where the higher price got to me with the excuse from the hairstylists: “There’s more hair to cut; we have to cut the whole head”.

    Being a dancer, and with my type of very straight fine hair that won’t do anything no matter what it gets hit with, I’m at the stage now where I almost “can’t be bothered”. I refuse to go to a regular stylist on a regular basis.

    My hair suits 3 different styles – medium length always in a ponytail and out of my way (my favourite, ‘cos I’m a dancer). Blunt cut bob. Extremely short (which always earns me the nickname “Audrey Hepburn”.

    I go to a stylist on the Danforth which is walk in and only charges me @ $20.

    My kind of frugal haircut! Easy to maintain, sling it back into a ponytail, and when that gets too heavy go and get it dealt with. And not all that often.

    • A very good point S M. Any guy can go to a salon and leave without spending $20 meanwhile a woman getting just a cut is hard pressed to drop less than $30. I know Joe will probably comment about how men pay too much for insurance. A walk-in place is definitely the way to go if you can.

      I happen to be friends with my hair stylist so occasionally she’ll do it for free if she wants to try something new out for her hair portfolio but that comes few and far between. If I go to the salon to get it done without that excuse I blow at least $120 every time. It makes me sad to spend so much but at least I don’t have shorter hair that needs that type of upkeep too. The colour costs a lot but it would probably cost a lot if a man wanted it too of course.

      • Hey thanks Kathy
        The other thing to consider in general for us women is keeping up with lifestyle and jobs. And hey, I have to also admit, its sometimes gives a fabulous feeling to spend money on pampering yourself from time to time, doesn’t it?!!! However, again, since my hair won’t do anything ‘cos its so straight and fine, I’ve opted for the K.I.S. rule (aka Keep it Simple) ‘cos in the end that’s what works best for me. And I know I can always get a darned good cut and style at the walk in (also I tend to have to go to the UK to visit my ageing folks and have a stylist there who doesn’t charge an arm and a leg either!). WuHu!!

        As for the fellas, I know one or two who do go to sylists and spend a lot. Its down to individual choice with all of us in the end.

        But as for insurance, I’m aware there are wide discrepancies, and it seems mostly for men, in car insurance rates (depends on where you live, what you drive, and your age, doesn’t it?). Maybe we can should add that one to the list of topics to explore!

  3. I agree with you on length. I get my hair cut maybe 2-3 times per year. I find that if I always chop it off to shoulder length or a bit longer, the layers don’t really grow out that badly and I can avoid going to a hair stylist for longer. I’m getting it cut this week after about 6 months, so I’ll probably get about 4 inches chopped off and then I’ll be good to go for another 6 months or so!

    Coloring your hair is terrible for it, so I stay away from it. I absolutely love my natural hair color and texture though :)

    I also really don’t care about trends. I just want my hair to look okay and to fit into a ponytail!

    It seems to cost me about $40-60 per visit, but at least I don’t do it all that often. I spend far more on food or even utilities…

    • So true. See there is another reason other than your wallet to not colour your hair. Even semi permanent dye isn’t good for it. Sadly I am going to ignore all this wonderful advice. and continue to dye mine. But really if you are happy with your colour then that is a huge money saver. Given the factors above colour is the one most likely to blow your budget. Especially since it is such a common thing for women to do these days.
      I think if you are only spending $80-180 at the hair salon a year then you are managing pretty dang well. Goodness knows I once dropped $180 at the salon in a single sitting.

  4. Turning 40 this year, I’ve found a LOT of white showing up in the past couple of years, so I colour. I get an all over colour a couple of shades off my natural, then gat a wide blonde streak added at the front (that’s where the worst of the white is, so as it grows out, the roots actually blend), and one streak of pink on the underside. Yes, it fades fast, but it fades first to pale pink, then to blonde, so I don’t have to touch it up. I get my hair cut/coloured about every 3 months for $100 – my girl does it in her basement and is CHEAP (but awesome!).

    • If you are going to colour your hair then it sounds like you are doing it the right way. Something similar to your natural is always going to cost you less in the long run.
      Not really on topic but the fading pink streak you go for reminds me of something I did ages ago when I was a teen. I literally dunked my head in a bucket of red tye dye at the beginning of the summer. My natural hair was a blonde I pay good money for now and for some reason the tye dye stayed in my hair for the entire summer but it faded of course. By the time school started up again I still had a slight pink tint to my hair. lol
      Not something I’d ever do again but I imagine doing just the streak of it is much more manageable (not to mention it is being done by someone that actually knows what they are doing in your case :) ).

  5. I used to get mine cut for free from my stylist neighbour. It was great, I would wash my hair, and call her over. I did have to clean up the floor after and change my clothes. Too bad I moved :(

    • Wow! That is awesome Koala! I don’t think it’s possible to beat getting a free cut from an actual well trained stylist. I am very impressed. :)

  6. I have to disagree slightly on the length issue. I have a pixie cut, and while I do need to go in for a trim every 8 weeks or so, it saves me untold money and time on styling. I don’t need tools (barely even a brush), I don’t need products, and I spend next to no time styling it. It’s wash and go! And it looks better when it’s not washed every day. The $60 I spend every couple of months is pretty frugal, I think.

    But I agree with everything else, especially colour. Most frugal thing I ever did, beauty wise, was stop playing with my hair colour.

    • I won’t say that what I said above is the one truth. There are always exceptions to the rule. Every 8 weeks for a cut isn’t bad at all.There are certainly people that go more frequently. Personally I only get mine cut 2-3 times a year and it works for me.
      A very money smart call on not dying. (Besides your natural looks great on you anyway) I am constantly feeling a teeny bit guilty for dying mine but it is worth it to me.

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