Nothing gives a sense of renewal quite like a fresh haircut or a one-hour massage. It is even better when you know how to get one (or both) without putting a big dent in your wallet.
As a vandweller, it is good idea to keep your appearance looking neat & tidy, especially if you are trying to live undercover, don't want to appear homeless, or are trying to find a job. If you can keep yourself clean and keep your hair under control, then it won't seem very likely that you are living in your vehicle. It doesn't always have to be expensive to get your hair cut, either, and this blog post is to assure you of just that. I just got a haircut for 1.00, and you can usually get them for under 7.00 if you know where to look.
Since I am trying to find some temporary work, I decided it was time for a haircut. I was really craving that freshly-trimmed feeling, and it always gives me a highly-energized boost of confidence that is terrific for job-searching. Fresh haircut = fresh start. A good feeling to start a new day. It had been probably 3 months since my last haircut. Eek!
I don't use styling products, blow dryers, or bobby-pins because I've never bothered to learn the correct way to use them. It would also be a pain to cart any of that stuff around inside my van. All I use for my hair is: shampoo, conditioner, hair-pick (for wet hair), and hair-brush (for dry hair). I keep an elastic hairband on my wrist at all times, and I also have a bandanna, although I haven't used either of them lately. I simply just let my hair "do its thing," until it gets long, unruly, and full of split-ends. At that point it drives me nuts, and I am subconsciously forced to go ahead & finally do something about it.
I also feel I should mention that I've got the straightest hair imaginable. Not curly, not thick, no wave what-so-ever. It is extremely fine & extremely straight. For that reason, my haircut is always a really easy one, and I just won't pay much money to get a tiny, simple trim. I can understand paying more if you are getting something difficult done, but I never do. Just 2 inches off, please, every time, that is all I need. I'm trying to grow my hair out, nice & long & straight. All I ever want is to kill-off all the split-ends without paying an outrageous amount of money.
I know that many van-dwellers cut their own hair, but I'd rather not attempt that if I don't absolutely have to. I don't know how people do that if they don't have eyes in the back in their head. That is why I did what I've done in many other places, which is what you can do to also find yourself a cheap haircut:
Search online for a local "beauty academy," "cosmetology school," or college/university that has a cosmetology department. All of these places have student clinics that offer services to the public for a reduced fee: haircuts, facials, manicures, pedicures, hair coloring, waxing, hand massages, different stuff. For a half price massage, however, you need to search for a "massage clinic" or "massage school." The idea is the same.
The students need practice, which is why they are always inexpensive. Practice = good for them, and Cheap Prices = good for us. It is a win/win situation. These student clinics are everywhere, in cities in every state. I've gone to them several times, and they have always done a great job. I guess my haircut can't really be screwed-up, but I don't think anyone should worry about them ruining their hair. There is always a teacher nearby, helping the students, looking over their shoulders, and doing finishing touch-ups.
Using google search & google maps, I recently discovered the "Artistic Nails & Beauty Academy" here in Tampa. Because of the bad economy, they give all haircuts for 1.00 on Tuesdays & Thursdays. The rest of the week, men's haircuts are 5.00 and women's are 6.00. I just walked-in, told them I needed a trim, and it was definitely a good deal - especially since they also washed & blow-dried my hair. I felt like a whole new person when I walked out of there!
I would say that they took quite a while, though, so you would want to allow yourself longer than usual. Also, the guy that cut my hair was really timid. He acted really afraid to touch my hair, like it was going to rise up and bite him. He said that he was a barber, and he hadn't cut a woman's hair before. That seemed pretty obvious, so I really got a kick out of it when he washed my hair - He just kept lightly massaging the shampoo onto the surface, seeming quite afraid to touch my scalp. He also mumbled really quietly, so I couldn't hardly understand him. He was definitely gentler than the teacher was, and I told him so, in an attempt to boost his confidence a little. His teacher was pretty marine-like, very stern, bossy, and direct. It was painful every time she ripped that comb down thru my hair. Luckily, she wasn't the one giving the haircut. I couldn't even feel the timid guy's comb :) Actually, her attitude was probably the whole reason that he seemed so timid in the first place. She probably scared him to death about making any mistakes. Nutty lady, just leave the poor guy alone.
All in all, I've had great experiences when it comes to student clinics. The last beauty-college haircut I got (before Tampa) was up in Michigan, which was also the last place I got a student massage at a separate massage-school. That massage school gave 30 minutes massages for 10.00, and I think the normal rate for a 30 minute massage is 30.00-40.00. Down here in Tampa, I found the "Cortiva Massage Clinic," where students give a one-hour massage for 25.00-30.00. That is a great deal, too, because I think most one-hour massages are at least 60.00. I haven't gotten a cheap massage down here, yet, though, because it is not essential. That would be classified more as "pampering," and I can't afford to pamper myself right now. A haircut on the other hand, that is a little more necessary. Plus, it was so inexpensive that I paid with change :)