Cheap and Free Haircuts in New York City

By: Lisa -
Last Updated: March 2, 2012

You live in New York City. A city full of beautiful super models with perfectly coiffed hair at all times. How do you get that “do” without spending a fortune?

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of salons in the city and a lot of them offer special training to younger stylists looking to perfect their craft and learn new techniques. How does this affect you? Students have to practice and they need someone to practice on.

How to Find Cheap or Free Haircuts in NYC

On any given day, check the Beauty Services section of Craiglist and you’ll find cheap haircuts or coloring, usually around $20 or $30. A lot of times they’re looking to perform a specific cut (like an A line bob) and if you’re willing to try that, those are usually free. Most of these services are performed by licensed cosmetologists or junior stylists and are usually overseen by head stylists or salon owners.

One of my favorite sources for finding free haircuts at great salons is The site is a database in which salon students and owners can post ads for hair models. They will give you the location of the salon, what kind of cut or coloring they want to try and how much it will cost, if anything. The database is updated in real time, so check it often. Amazing studios such as Arrojo post there.

If you can’t find something online that suits your need, you could always go straight to the source and ask the salons if they’re in need of any hair models. Most of the top salons in the city have programs like this, so chances are, they do. Some of the top ones that are always looking are Arrojo Salon (owned by What Not to Wear’s Nick Arrojo), Bumble and Bumble and Aveda. Of course there are several others, but on any given day, you’ll find these people looking for models.

What to Keep in Mind

The downside to these free or cheap haircuts is there is often limited time. They need hair models for a class tomorrow between 2pm and 5pm and the first people to respond get it. So be persistent. Check online or with the salons often to find something that fits with you and your schedule.

You should also be aware that since the cut is being done by students it will probably take a little longer than usual. You’ll also have a lot of people (i.e. instructors, students and other random people) touching your hair and scrutinizing the cut. Don’t worry. It’s a good sign. It means they’re making sure they get it right.

So now you know the secret to getting that “in” ‘do on a budget. My friends and I have done hair modeling several times and have always walked away happy (and fashionable). And it’s a great way to get to know some soon to be amazing top professional stylists. So go for it. Try something new. You live in New York and with deals like this, there’s no reason NOT to look fabulous.

NYC Salons Offering Free or Cheap Haircuts, Colorings and More:

Arrojo Studio
180 Varrick Street, 212-807-7786
Owned by Nick Arrojo from What Not to Wear, this solon is always looking for hair models for cuts and colorings.

Aveda Institute
233 Spring Street, 212-807-1492
Another top salon always in need of hair models.

Butterfly Studio Salon
149 5th Ave. #2, 212-253-2100
Coloring models are needed from time to time.

Bumble & Bumble
415 W. 13th Street, 866-7-Bumble
They can be precise about who they choose for their hair models, but if you are picked, your haircut and/or coloring will be free.

57th Street, SoHo and on Park Avenue, 212-308-3838
Often looking for models to get a cut, highlight, glaze and blow-dry for $25 or less.

Cristiano Cora Studio
3 West 13th Street 2nd Floor, 212-414-1333
They are often looking for color and highlight models.

Eiji Salon
601 Madison Ave., 212-838-3454
Cuts, single process and highlights supervised by a master colorist.

Jeffrey Stein Salon
Six locations across the city, 212-777-7717
This salon is always in need of hair models. They offer free and discounted cuts, hightlights and coloring to models.

Vidal Sassoon
90 Fifth Ave, 212-334-3770
Call or stop by a week before you want a discounted cut.

This is only a fraction of the many amazing NYC salons that offer cheap or free haircuts by apprentice stylists.