Friday, January 23, 2009

How To Get Haircuts for 1.00 (and Cheap Massages)

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 :)


Anonymous said...

Great! I always love a fresh haircut. Boy do I wish I had straight hair, or wildly curly hair. But mine is just someplace in-between and very unpredictable...except that I always know it will be frizzy and horrible unless I curl it or iron it. Thats why I never know what I'm getting with a haircut. Will you post a picture?

jm said...

Thanks for the tips on haircuts. I'll try that next time rather than attempting to do it myself again using a pair of moustache scissors, a make-up mirror, and the light of a propane lantern...

diane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MsBelinda said...

Great tip for getting a haircut at an affordable price. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sonja,

I came across your blog just a few days ago. I'm just starting to research this unique way of life and am VERY interested, so thanks for all of the info you offer here!

With regards to your post I have some info that might be helpful. I have inexplicable anxiety about going to hairstylists. Always feel like they're judging me. Because of this I tend to go a LONG time without seeing them, and eventually I got fed up with having bad hair, so I researched ways to give yourself a trim.

I've found quite a few sites with info on self-trims, but this one seems to be the best. Her videos aren't super high quality, and she does tend to ramble, but she gives solid visuals on how to do the things that she's recommending.

Blunt Cut -

V-Cut (haven't personally tried this one) -

Layered Cut -

(Make sure that you watch the videos all the way through before actually trying it out. At least on the layered cut she goes into some warnings of what not to do at the very end.)

I prefer the layered cut and it's actually easier than the other cuts! It especially looks good when my hair is straight, so it would probably look good on you. Maybe give one of these a try the next time you need a cut. They're great because you can do them any time. The only expense would be a good pair of scissors, but after that it's totally free.

As a side note, while I haven't fully riffled through that site, just from it's title it seems like the sort of thing you'd find useful! It's all about saving money.

Hope that's helpful!

On a completely different topic, I have a question for you, which you may have answered in a previous post, I just haven't found it. As a young woman, what do you do to stay safe when you're on your own, and what would you advise other young women do if they were in a mobile living situation?


Anonymous said...

I agree, if you need to have a good haircut, a beauty college is the way to go. Just don't let them color your hair; students are waaaaay too inexperienced to rely on a good coloring job.


Teresa - I'll see if I can get a good pic, but really, my haircut was barely a haircut... Only like 2 inches off....

jmvan - you made me laugh out loud :)

Jana - thanks so much for the links! I'm so excited, I will definitely watch them and see if I can figure out how to trim my own hair next time. If I can do a layered look on myself, I will be thrilled! As for safety, that is a great topic.. I will write a posting for you about it soon. :)

LiveWorkDream - yeah, I definitely would NOT have let that timid guy color my hair...eek

Chris Dunphy said...

Awesome tips. We just got great $5.00 haircuts at a beauty school in Austin. I don't think I will ever pay more again.

Also - we have given up on shampoo, and our hair is doing great. Cherie hasn't shampooed in over a year, actually!

The secret is to wash your hair with a bit of baking soda once a week or so, and every so often rinse it with diluted apple cider.

Our hair looks great, and this is super cheap and easy.

- Chris

Ryan Warren said...

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