By Danielle Braff

Chicago Tribune

Haircuts, color and products can add up quickly at the salon, and while you may not want to cut corners when it comes to your hair, it’s possible to cut costs while keeping your cut fantastic. We reached out to salon experts across the country to learn the behind-the-scene secrets to savings at the salon.

• Ask about referral discounts: Many salons will offer a $15 referral discount, said Jamie DiGrazia, stylist, colorist, hair care brand ambassador and owner of Logan Parlor in Chicago.

“Salons and stylists love giving discounts for referrals,” DiGrazia said. “It really helps the salon gain new and loyal business when the salon is referred by friends.”

• Go to a gender-neutral salon: If you’re a woman with short hair, you can save money by going to a salon that charges by the length of your hair rather than by gender, said DiGrazia, whose salon’s pricing structure goes by the time and length of the cut instead of by gender.

“It’s now become a very popular way to charge,” DiGrazia said. “It is fair and equal to the guest and to the service provider.”

• Ask about being a hair model: Often, stylists are looking for models to enter into a hair show or competition, or to add diversity to their portfolio, said Greg Auer, stylist at PureBeauty Salon & Spa at Macy’s in Chicago. Many salons also require hair models for on-site training.

“This is a great way to get a new look on a dime — or even for free,” Auer said.

• Speak up: Your relationship with your regular hairdresser is important, said April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert and author of four relationship advice books.

“Usually, people don’t realize this importance until things go wrong, but if you’re looking to save money, and you have a regular relationship with your hairdresser, simply talking to them about your budget concerns is step one,” Masini said.

The hair dresser may suggest more time between appointments, leaving out special treatments you didn’t realize you were paying for, or simply avoiding the cost of blow dry services, especially in the summer when you may not need or want it.

“Many people don’t talk frankly to their hairdresser, and this creates miscommunication and second-guessing,” Masini said. “If you start skipping appointments because you’re trying to save money — but you’re not cluing your hairdresser in, they may think you’re not happy with them, or you’re finding someone else to go to.” If you speak with them, but don’t want to lose their services, they may try to help. If you don’t tell them, they won’t have that opportunity.

• Seek out a new stylist: Go to a high-end salon and choose a new stylist who is in the beginning of his or her career.

“Typically, a newer stylist will come with a lower price tag, but while they may lack experience on the floor, they are usually in the middle of a high-level training program,” said Tony Gordon, stylist with Gordon Salon, which has four locations in Illinois. At his salon, new stylists are $39, as opposed to master stylists, who can charge upward of $60.

Look for discounts: Even higher-end salons, like the Mario Tricoci chain, will offer discounts, said Tammy Baltrus, a top stylist there. Baltrus said her salon accepts Spa Finder gift cards, which can be purchased at Costco, saving clients $20 for every $100 they spend.

“Some salons are on the AAA list to receive 10 percent off products and services,” Baltrus said. She also recommends asking every salon if they would accept other salons’ coupons, as well as offering your email and phone number to your technician so she or he can keep you informed about current promotions.

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