Angie's List: Hair care savings

Let's face it. Many of us obsess over our hair and are willing to pay just about any price to keep it looking good.

Consumer expert Angie Hicks of Angie’s List said, "In a recent Angie's List poll respondents reported at least 43 percent of them get their hair cut and styled on a regular basis. The interesting part of the finding was that 40 percent of them feel they pay too much for their hair cut. I think in these budget conscious days consumers are always looking for ways to stretch their dollars and their hair is no different."

Getting your hair cut does not necessarily mean getting "clipped".

"We talked to highly rated hair stylists on Angie's List for some cost saving advice on getting your hair done. The first tip they gave us was to talk to your stylist about hairstyles that will be low maintenance - that won't cost a lot for upkeep. Keep in mind that longer hair usually requires less maintenance than short hairstyles. Men should consider if they get a clipper cut, going with a shorter cut so their hair cut last longer. Also, plan ahead your hair appointments throughout the year. That way you can budget and know exactly how much you are going to spend this year," said Angie.

If you are looking for a new salon, it is best not to just walk into a new salon blind.

Shauna Becker, a consumer, said, "When I'm looking for a new salon I look for atmosphere and referrals based on the experience that anyone has had there. Definitely don't want to be breaking ground at a salon."

Angie said, "When you are considering a new stylist you need to visit the salon, get to know the stylist, and have a free consultant or even a low-cost consultation because you're going to want someone who understands what you like because this is obviously a very personal decision. Don't skip out on making sure that they are certified. Hair stylists should be certified by the Board of Cosmetology in most states."

Many places offer complimentary bang and neck trims so clients can keep their style fresh without paying for a full hair cut every time.

When it comes to color, a shade that is dramatically different than your natural color means more visits to the salon.

Some additional advice:

Angie's List tips for finding a hair salon:

• What's their specialty? If your hair is colored or highlighted, ask to book an appointment with their technician who specializes in color. Or if your hair is curly, ask to schedule with a stylist who specializes in cutting curly hair.

• Go in for a consult: Ask if the hair salon offers a free or low-cost consultation before the actual cut. It's important that you like the vibe of the salon and make a connection with the stylist before the scissors come out. Often stylists have a portfolio on hand or pictures on the salon's website.

• Do you feel at ease? Personality is important, so make sure you feel comfortable talking to the stylist and that he or she understands your look and what style of haircut will work best on you. You don't have to be best friends, but the last thing you want is a "yes man." A hair stylist should feel comfortable telling you up front that the celebrity hair style picture you brought in just won't work on you.

• Check licensing: Each state's Board of Cosmetology requires specific license requirements for the technician. The license should be posted in their workstation.

• Clean and sanitary: Ask how the stylist's tools are cleaned and sanitized. Is hair swept off the floor?

• Realistic expectations: Stylists are not magicians. There are just some things your hair can and cannot do. If you have dark curly hair you probably won't be leaving the salon looking like Paris Hilton with blond straight hair.

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