Monday, December 8, 2008

Hair Care on the Cheap

Maintain a Great Style That's easy on your Wallet
by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Shampoo and hair styling products go right down the drain
along with the money you spent on them. And doesn't it seem
like yesterday that your kids all had haircuts? Now they're
looking shaggy already! The following tips can help you can
maintain a great style that's easy on your wallet.

If you like expensive brands of hair care products, scan the
weekly flyers for Rite Aid and Walgreens. Both drug store
chains often promote free-after-rebate sales on premium
shampoo and other hair care products. You can also apply
manufacturer coupons towards them and, in essence, get paid to
purchase your items at these stores. Instead of spending the
approximate $30 on shampoo and hair care products for my
family annually, I'm paid an average of $6 per year. Both
chains let you enter receipts online so there's no need to
clip UPC symbols or mail in anything.

Instead of springing for premium or salon brands, try out a
less expensive one. A top sales representative for Nexxus once
told me privately that if you can't afford her products to use
Suave's line. When I can't score rebate shampoo and
conditioner, I've also found that White Rain shampoo or
conditioner, $.75 for a 16.5-ounce bottle at Dollar General,
does a good job at cleaning and conditioning my hair.

Some dollar stores accept manufacturer's coupons. Familiarize
yourself with the brands they carry and use coupons
accordingly for deep discounts on good brands.

As another strategy, send away for free shampoo samples (see
sites below). Even if you have a favorite brand, several
stylists have told me that occasionally switching shampoos
will rev up your hair.

Don't over-use products. Many people over age 30 do not need
to wash their hair daily. In fact, doing so can damage hair
and dry out the scalp. Try skipping a day and see how it goes.
Reduce the amount of shampoo and styling products you apply to
your hair. Would a smaller dab of gel work just as well?

Consider re-purposing less expensive products to do the job of
a more expensive one. Marlene, a mom of three girls in
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, uses diluted conditioner in a
spray bottle for her children's de-tangler instead of
purchasing pre-made de-tangler. A few pennies' worth of
conditioner is a far cry from the usual $3.69 for Johnson's No
More Tangles.

Marlene's dad, another thrifty consumer, uses petroleum jelly
as a styling aid. He's in his 70's and has a beautiful head of
hair. I'm not sure that the petroleum jelly can take credit,
but at least it doesn't seem to damage his hair.

Many hair styling smoothers and leave-in conditioners are very
concentrated and if you dispense a small amount in your hands
and thin it out with water, it works even better than full

Without question, hair coloring, straightening and perms at
salons cost more than doing it yourself at home; however,
going au natural has become in vogue. Many top stylists urge
their clients to work with, not against, their natural texture
and color.

Consider all the celebrities sporting silver locks, such as
George Clooney and Jamie Lee Curtis. With proper care, gray
can be great. Since it's often dryer and coarser than the
pigmented hair it replaced, it's important to condition gray
hair more often and to treat it gently. Go easy with chemicals
to straighten or curl it and skip tight hair accessories or

Your haircut can determine how much styling product you use
and how often you'll need a haircut. Consult with your stylist
as to what type of cut would complement your looks and require
little maintenance. If you can go eight weeks between haircuts
instead of the prescribed six, you'll save.

Complex cuts can also be difficult for less expensive salons
to achieve because their stylists often have fewer years of
experience. By switching from an inverted bob with a stacked
back to a simpler, one-level bob, which the lower-priced salon
can easily handle, I save about $150 annually (six $25
haircuts per year compared with six $50 haircuts).

During the summertime, I sometimes skip a few cuts since I put
my hair up in ponytails and buns so much anyway. The extra
length makes it easier to secure.

If you live in a larger city, consider surrendering your locks
to a beauty school student. Many schools give free haircuts to
allow their students practice on live clients. And don't
worry. They're carefully supervised by an instructor, so
you're sure to get a great look.

Ready to lose some major length? Some salons offer free or
discounted haircuts if you donate the hair to organizations
such as Locks of Love, which makes hairpieces for cancer

Learning to cut your own hair and that of your family's can
also reap a big savings. Again, simple styles will help out
here. Invest in a good set of haircutting shears and clippers
to keep your girls' and boys' hair looking neat. A $60
haircutting set will easily pay for itself within six months
for most families. And perhaps your savvy with the shears will
increase until you're cutting your spouse's hair, too.

Sites for free hair care products:

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant writes from her home in Wolcott, N.Y.
Her web site is

Thanks to The Dollar Stretcher!!

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