Getting your hair cut can be a traumatic experience; for example, one may spend upwards of £30 within London simply to get a wash, cut and blow-dry. However, there is not only the expense, but also the risk. Although you may reduce the chance of getting a bad haircut by taking a picture from a magazine of your desired style into the salon with you, there is always the problem of the style looking nice in the photo, on the model, but with no real inkling of how it may look on you.
One way around this is to go to one of the established salons. But the drawback there, of course, is that they are obscenely expensive.
Fortunately, there is another, far cheaper way...
Everyone has to start somewhere, and for hairdressers, it is no different. Once they have qualified, they must learn how to cut the latest styles at the breakneck speeds required of their salons. Not only that, they have to learn how to cut the various types of hair of, naturally enough, real people. That is where you come in.
Adverts may appear in the local press, of established and well-known salons requiring 'models' for various aspects of hairdressing, such as colouring, perming, trims, restyles and 'classic' cuts1. These adverts will state the requirements for the cut, usually that you must be over 18, and appointments are only available for weekdays, at certain times in the morning or afternoon.
What is more important is that the advert doubles up as a voucher. Usually the booking fee is, at the time of writing, £5. The production of the advert means that the cut is free. Colouring and perming are in fact charged for, at around £15, at the time of writing.
Of course, even without the advert/voucher, you will be receiving a haircut on the cheap. Phone the place up about a week before and book your appointment. Now start flicking through hair magazines for styles.
The Cutting Experience
The actual cut may occur at one of the salon's academies, or indeed, one of their salons. Either way, you will have a long queue ahead. So it is advisable to try to turn up to the place early.
Once at reception, hand over your cash or the voucher, and take off your coat if you are wearing one. Almost immediately, you will be asked to put on one of those salon gowns, which prevents you getting nasty slivers of cut hair all over your clothes. Then, you'll wait some more.
Shortly after, a stylist will come up to you and ask what you would like to have done to your hair. It is at this point that you either give a rough description of what your haircut should look like, show them a picture, or just admit that you have no idea at all. If it is indeed the latter, then the stylist will suggest things, look at your hair, bring out a book of styles, and suggest some options. This is technically known as a consultation and is, in fact, available from all salons, often free of charge. Then, after a decision on the style has been made, you will be led to another area, where you'll have your hair cut.
Take a seat - any seat - and you will find that a trainee will be standing behind you. Chat to them - if you are nervous about letting a trainee loose on your hair, then they will be twice as nervous: anxious to get it right. So it's a good idea to calm the situation before anyone has real cause to panic. In fact, there is very little chance of getting the cut wrong; a 'teacher' (the trained stylist) will check up on your cut and the trainee's cutting style constantly.
Then, the cut begins... very slowly indeed. A cut could take two hours or more; so make sure you have plenty of time on your hands before undertaking such an exercise. Remember, even though you signed on as a model, you are really more like a block of plaster or a lump of clay; and it is in everyone's best interest for the apprentice sculptor to work slowly and methodically.
After the lengthy amount of time that the trainee has spent on your hair, you should emerge with a great hairstyle which, in effect, has been carried out in one of the top salons of the country. If, however, it has turned out to be a disaster, then at least you can console yourself with the fact that it was dirt cheap or free, and that you haven't wasted vast amounts of money on it.