Last updated: Sep 20, 2009
haircare-budget
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There are women with last names like Trump and Hilton who will never have to worry about how much they spend on their hair. Then there are the rest of us, who wonder if theres any way to save on the cost of haircuts, color, and the styling products we rely on to keep bad hair days at bay.


Even clients at the tony New York City salon Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger—a favorite of Sarah Jessica Parker and Renee Zellweger—are feeling the pinch. “Lots of women have come in asking for color that requires less maintenance and ways to stretch out the time between appointments,” Dorram says. But before you buy that expired shampoo at the dollar store, read on for smart ways to save at the salon—and at home.

Trimming Haircut Costs
The right (think long-lasting) style can buy you a few extra weeks between cuts—and save you major money over the course of the year.

Add some layers
Styles that have precise angles or very blunt ends tend to look messy if you go too long between haircuts, according to Pam Kelly, the national director of technical services for Fantastic Sams salons. “No matter what length your hair is, incorporating layers will help your cut maintain its shape over time,” she says. Ask your stylist to cut long layers that take weight off the ends, so your hair doesnt take on a triangular shape as it grows out.

Avoid the razor
Some stylists use a razor to thin out hair or create a piecey look, but the tool slices the tips of your hair on an angle, which can cause split ends to appear sooner than they will if your stylist uses scissors. If you like the textured look, but want to keep your ends smooth for as long as possible, Kelly suggests asking your stylist to notch or point cut the ends. “Shell cut up into the hair to create texture, using scissors instead of a razor,” Kelly explains.

Color-Saving Tricks
Whether you dye your hair at home (a wallet-friendly strategy right off the bat) or go to the salon, there are ways to keep color costs under control.

Pick a shade close to your own
You dont have to be Vidal Sassoon to realize that dyeing dark-brown hair platinum blonde is a high-maintenance, high-cost endeavor. For the most-flattering and longest-lasting results, stay within two shades of your natural color, suggests New York City colorist Kelly Van Gogh. And experts recommend thinking twice before going red or auburn—those shades are notoriously quick to fade.

Choose the right dye formula
Semipermanent dye typically fades gradually over four to six weeks, so it wont leave you with telltale roots if youre short on cash and unable to get a touch up. Highlights are also a low-maintenance option. “Because you only color-select strands, its not as obvious when they grow out. Theres less upkeep, too,” Van Gogh says.

Dare to DIY
If you love salon color, but dont want to blow quite so much dough on it, why not occasionally do your own? If your color-ist typically gives you a single-process color, alternate with an at-home kit thats meant to be applied only on new growth (not your whole head). We like Clairol Nice n Easy Root Touch-Up ($6.99). Highlights are trickier, for sure, but you can pull them off at home: For the best results, use a home highlighting kit, and just add several streaks along your hairline and part.

Stretch it out with shampoo
Shampoos for color-treated hair arent just a gimmick; experts agree that they can help you eke out an extra week or two between dye jobs. “They help seal the hairs cuticle, preventing dye molecules from leaching out,” Van Gogh explains. Many also contain UV filters that protect your shade from fading due to sun exposure. Try Natures Gate Organics Color Protecting Shampoo ($7.99) or Nexxus Dualiste Shampoo Color Protection + Intense Hydration Shampoo ($11.99).

Revitalize with a glaze
If your colors starting to fade, use an at-home glaze like John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze ($9.99), Dorram suggests. Just dont use it more than twice a week. “There are ingredients in glazes that can build up on your hair and dull the color if you use them too often,” she says.


Style Savers
Frizz, fuzz, and split ends can send you running to the salon for (pricey) professional help. At home, treat your hair right to avoid any unwanted expenses.

Be (a little) stingy with shampoo
To save shampoo—and keep your hair healthy—dont suds up every time you shower. (Washing too often can cause dryness.) When you do wash, use “a dollop about the size of a quarter,” says Edwin Johnston, the North American artistic director of KMS California. Massage shampoo into your scalp but not on ends; this technique prevents ends from drying out (they still get clean when you rinse).

Concentrate your conditioner
Plopping a big glob of conditioner on top of your head wastes valuable product and causes your roots to fall flat. (Even after you rinse, some of the smoothing ingredients are left behind to detangle, but they may also weigh down your hair.) Because your ends benefit most from conditioner, Johnston suggests rubbing a quarter-size dollop between your hands, then gently raking it from the midshaft down so its evenly distributed; wait a few minutes, then rinse.

Limit heat exposure
The easiest way? Air-dry your hair. If you must blow-dry, switch to an ionic dryer, such as the Conair Infiniti Cord-Keeper ($34.99). “Ionic dryers produce a negative charge that helps suck the moisture out of your hair and cut drying time almost in half,” Kelly explains.