NYC is not a good place for living that frugal life. But alas, here I am with a few cents in my pocket and dreams bigger than I can afford. I thought, why not blog about it? Enter my new blog series: Skint in NYC.
For the first edition of Skint in NYC, it's all about the hair. If you're going to do NYC when you're broke, you're going to have to do it with good hair. Having no money in this city is ten times when you don't feel and look your best.
I was having a bad day in general, but it was also a bad hair day. My buzzcut had grown out to an awkward, untamable length and the rest of my hair was simply greasy and unloved. Oh, and there was no end to my split ends. All these factors were at play when I wandered past a hair salon with a sign calling for hair models. I barged in, ready to sign my soul away in exchange for a new do.
This is only for hair style changes, you know?
Yes, yes okay.
How short would you go?
As short as you want.
...That, my friends, is the conversation of a desperate girl and a sightly bemused Asian hairdresser.
So I put my name down and later received a text from Mami, the hairdresser who would be giving me my new look. I'd since calmed down a bit and started backtracking... I don't want it tooooo short. Luckily, she wasn't eager do an extreme makeover so I was happy to trust her with my unruly mane.
The hairdresser's was the quirky KIDA NYC at 369 Broome St. Freebies aside, it seems like a great salon to get a cut, with its cool decor, chill tunes and lovely staff.
After letting Mami know what I wanted, she got to work. The buzzcut was snipped to size with scissors - rather than a razer - to make the ends look more natural. To finish the look she blowdried it to its natural wave, by scrunching the hair as heat was applied.
Since this was a training exercise for the Mami, the supervisor came over to review her work. The two girls nattered away in Japanese about my hair - presumably the supervisor was giving feedback and letting Mami know where she went wrong. The longer they talked the more I worried something had gone array with my hair! Since their conversation was in Japanese, I was left in ignorant bliss. The cut looked good to my eyes anyway...
All-in-all, it was a pretty stress-free experience, but not one for the faint-hearted! Ultimately, you are letting someone practice on your hair, so mistakes can be made. And with that word of warning out of the way, here are my tips for getting a free or cheap haircut in NYC, if you care to dare with your hair...
How to bag yourself a free or cheap haircut in NYC:
- Decide what you want: Are you going for a colour or a cut? And just how wild would you go with your new style? Obviously, the more open to new styles you are the easier it will be to find a hairdresser who wants to practice on your hair! But don't feel pressured to go for a completely new look if that's not what you're after. Just know how flexible you want to be and make what you don't want very clear once you've found a potential hairdresser.
- Bookmark this: This handy guide by New York Magazine has a list of all the top hair salons that offer cuts and colours for free or cheap.
- Pop in and ask: New Yorkers are a friendly bunch, so if you spy a cute salon that you'd like to try out, why don't you go in and ask if they're looking for hair models?
- Search the Craigslist "free stuff" section: I know, I know. Craigslist is full of creepers, right? Well, not necessarily. I've been using Craigslist to find photography gigs for a while now, and it's been great! You can find freebies here by simply typing "haircut" or "hair color" in the search bar. Of course, on a website where anyone can post anything you're going to get some dodgy posts - so be careful! Have an email or text conversation first and if it's at a legitimate salon, you've found a winner!
- Don't forget to tip: Just because it's free doesn't mean that you shouldn't give your hairdresser a small token of appreciation in the form of a tip. Since I am still getting used to tipping etiquette here, I turned to @LeHoarder - a blogger who always bags herself freebie haircuts. She told me that while it is optional to tip, if you're going for a cut you could tip $5-$10 and if it's a colour then $10-$20 will do.
And that's it! Let me know if you've ever been a hair model in the comments.