Expensive salon cuts vs. cheapo Supercuts--does it make a difference?

I am so bad about getting haircuts that I only end up getting it done once or twice a year. I've only gotten it cut three times since joining YLF a year and a half ago! The first two times were at salons:

This last time I just went to Supercuts because I didn't have time to schedule a salon visit, plus I wanted to see if I could get away with a cheaper cut since I really never style or blowdry my long straight hair so it seems like a waste to spend all that money.

#1 is before the latest cut, and #2-4 is after the $20 Supercuts. It was much quicker (10 min vs 1 hour), and no real layers. #5-6 is after the first salon cut, #7-8 was after the second salon cut at a different salon (Though it looks different because he blow dried and straight ironed it and I never ever do that--no iron and no time!).

Do you think going to a salon makes a difference and is worth the extra time and money? I don't remember how much the salon cuts were but probably at least around $100 with tips. After this last cut when I came home DH said my cut was very "nondescript" and thought I should get it cut at a salon next time. What do you think--salon or Supercuts? Oh, and do you like me with bangs (#4-5) or no bangs?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Karie replied 8 years ago

    The Supercuts pics look nice, but my favorites are #5 and #6. I vote for the Salon cut with layers and bangs :)

  • Jules replied 8 years ago

    If you're only going twice a year, it's not too much money to spend at the salon, and you can time it for an event or date night and ask them to flat iron or whatever you want for styling for a night out. I have short hair and I'm at the salon every 6 weeks! I cheap out by doing my own colour.

  • Thistle replied 8 years ago

    I like 5-6 the best. However, you have such beautiful straight hair that you can get away with Supercuts. Still, those layers look beautiful, and I wold never ever trust Supercuts with layers.

    Honestly, the right cut can really make styling go fast, especially if you find a good stylist who understands the time constraints you are under.mthose stylists are almost always at a salon, though.

  • rute replied 8 years ago

    I prefer 7 and 8!!

  • replied 8 years ago

    I am going to vote salon. Nothing against supecuts and the like but you get a more precise cut from a salon. Cut looks good anyhow! Not bad for ten mins.

  • Janet replied 8 years ago

    I think people with longer blunt-cut hair can get away with cheap haircuts much easier, but I have never been happy with the few experiences I had with those places. My hair type and texture can be challenging to cut in a shape that grows out well. A bad haircut on me means that the waves hit in weird places, stick out, and put bulk where it's not needed. Thick, straight hair like yours is much more predictable.

    Your hair always looks nice and sleek, so there is not a drastic difference in appearance between the two approaches. Still, I do like the layers, and I think they add a little extra sophistication to your look. I like 5-6 in particular. How does it feel to you? Do you feel better after a Supercuts cut or a salon experience?

    For me, it's worth the extra money to relax in a nice salon six times a year, flip through fashion mags, chat with my stylist (who I have been going to for 10 years), and most importantly, walk out feeling fab with something a little different each time that I love. Budget wise, so I buy one less jacket or something a year -- that's fine! I think you need to decide whether its worth it to you.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    I echo what Janet says. You can certainly get away with the inexpensive cut because you wear your hair in a simple style and it is in great condition. But the salon styles do look more "finished." So...maybe you can combine the approaches? Me, I'm in the salon every six weeks, too, for cuts. Then again, I don't have to do anything to my hair to style it between times except add a bit of product.

  • cinnamon fern replied 8 years ago

    $100 with tip for just a cut is high - there are plenty of salons cheaper than that but still a big step up from Supercuts.

    I think it's worth going to a salon just to have your hair cut by the same person every time.

  • TraceyLiz65 replied 8 years ago

    I definitely see a difference in the salon cuts and I prefer the salon myself, I do it 2-3 times a year.and have used the same stylist for 7 years now!!!

  • Transcona Shannon replied 8 years ago

    Because I have such short hair with a very specific style, a bad cut can be incredibly obvious and downright disastrous - I personally would never have my hair cut anywhere other than a good salon.

    I think for someone with your hairstyle, you can get away with a quick trim from a place like Supercuts but I'll be honest Natalie, your hair looks incredible in pics #5-6 in particular. It's not that the cheap cut looks bad (you could never look bad!), but it doesn't look as "finished" and is less styled. That having been said, $100 for cutting your hair seems excessive - maybe a slightly less expensive salon?

  • Joy replied 8 years ago

    It sounds like DH would like to see you in a style with more shaping. I used to wear my hair like yours when in college, but needed something more professional when I got out. My compromise for awhile was to wear it down at home and up in a French roll for teaching.
    I like the bit of fringe and would suggest having your hair cut at a salon at an angle ( shorter in back angling to the front or vice-versa. It may not be thick enough to layer at that length, but you would know best. To keep it looking sharp, go more often. Like specs, your hair style is seen daily and worth maintaining.

  • Jules replied 8 years ago

    I'll be honest that $100 does not sound out of line to me. Of course there is a huge range, but I pay $80 with tip and I know people who pay a lot more (and a lot less). But you can certainly ask around.
    The only thing about getting into more detailed haircuts is that they require maintenance, and you have to figure out how that fits into your lifestyle, not just financially but time and effort-wise. I was terrible about getting my long hair cut and I knew it, so I didn't go short and high-maintenance (meaning in frequency of cuts, not daily styling effort) until I found a stylist around the corner from my house.
    My style is not anywhere near your level, it's pretty basic. I don't wear make up and I'm bad at styling my hair. So I feel a high-maintenance cut with a lot of style is pretty important for me. I don't think YOU need to do this, it'd be more a matter of WANT. And I wouldn't be wanting to start in with a newborn coming, personally :)

  • Amy replied 8 years ago

    Yes, where you go to get your haircut makes a HUGE difference. More specifically, who cuts your hair makes a huge difference. The quality of cuts can differ in the same salon. My previous stylist did a nice job, but her tastes were different than mine. My current stylist is very talent and her tastes are more in line with my own. I never walk out of the salon feeling disappointed or end up having to fight with my hair to make it behave.

    I think it's even more important to get a good cut if you don't style your hair much in the mornings. The better the cut, the nicer shape it will have. I spend very little time on my hair in the mornings, and it generally falls into a shape I like.

    I like your hair with a few layers. Bangs will mean more time needed at the salon or *gasp* trimming them on your own. Since I'm low maintenance, I prefer no bangs for myself and suspect you might feel the same way.

  • krishnidoux replied 8 years ago

    Agree that 100$ only for a cut and brushing is high, and that you can get something verty nice for less (around $75).

    I do much prefer pics 5 and 6 and see a difference. The subtle layering gives your hair more shape and body.

    I find the whole scheduling business, on top of high prices, a real drag, but to me it's worth it. I schedule many apt. in advance, all on Saturday mornings so it doesn't feel like an extra thing I must do and for which I have to destroy my weekly schedule.

  • replied 8 years ago

    I think the true test is how your hair behaves once you get home, shower and fix it yourself. You might not have "fussy hair" and might be able to get more inexpensive haircuts. I go to Great Clips and I have a specific stylist that I ask for. She is very accommodating. You could try taking a picture of your haircut in #5 and asking them to copy it at the inexpensive place if you like the bangs and layers that you have there (I do). But if hubs wants to to spring for the salon experience, by all means, go for it!

  • Isis replied 8 years ago

    $100 (with tips) does not seem at all out of line considering you live in the bay area. The salon has to pay rent, the stylist needs to pay rent, etc. You can't compare prices across the country.

    And $100 for 6 months is not much for a fashion item since you wear your hair with every outfit, every day!

    The time thing is another issue. I schedule my next appointment at the end of the last one. My stylist is booked months in advance, and otherwise my hair drives me crazy if I wait to schedule when I need a cut! Also, I enjoy the hour in the salon; it's relaxing. No phones, no internet, I close my eyes and relax....I would go to a cheaper place to get a 10 minute cut if I didn't enjoy the experience or I didn't preschedule.

  • cinnamon fern replied 8 years ago

    I don't think $100 on a haircut is 'too much' in some absolute sense - I'm just suggesting that there are options in between $100 haircuts and Supercuts if you're not totally comfortable with either of those.

    I agree with Inge about scheduling the next appointment when you leave the salon, it's much easier. They will call to confirm/remind a couple days ahead of time most places.

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    I don't think the cost matters as much as the particular person you get. I want consistency not in my cut but in my stylist. My hairstylist is a little pricey ($55 for a cut), but I will move to another state if she does, because she is so familiar with my hair and what works in terms of cutting it how I want. If she were at Supercuts, I'd go there. I do think the best people tend to move to places where they can make more money for their expertise and have recurring clients, rather than dealing with walk-ins.

  • Diana replied 8 years ago

    Well, you know we have similar hair and the same philosophy toward (not) styling it! I ALWAYS go to the salon precisely because I don't want to spend a lot of time styling. My stylist knows this so she cuts layers and angles it in the front so it will look good without much effort. When it's shorter she also does a modified undercut so the bottom is not overly poofy. These are things that they generally wouldn't do at supercuts. I guess it's important to have a good relationship with your stylist so he or she works with your preferences too.

    (Plus I get my hair colored, and I definitely don't trust cheap places to do that!)

    I do have friends who swear by the cheap stylists in Chinatown though... but frankly my chinese is not good enough so who knows what horrid hairstyle I'd end up with??? ;)

  • Kristin L replied 8 years ago

    I prefer salons, though it's been a long while since I have been. It is more expensive, but I feel like the stylist listens more closely to what I have to say about my hair and I feel like they take their time more to do it.

    And I like the bangs.

  • lyn* replied 8 years ago

    I want to cry/vomit if my hair cut costs me more than $40, so I understand your dilemma. My sister has similar hair to yours, and it looks like you got a reasonable job at Supercuts. Last time she went, it was quite terrible and choppy and looked like I had cut it for her with butcher scissors - so she had to go and get her hair cut again at a salon to 'fix' the problems.

    I think Supercuts is a gamble, but your hair looks nice! I also vote for fringe.

  • Aziraphale replied 8 years ago

    For me, yes. Last time I cheaped out and went for a cut at a local salon, I came out looking like Joan Jett. Not good.

    Perhaps straight asian hair like yours is more forgiving!

  • goldenpig replied 8 years ago

    Wow, thanks for the insights! I am surprised at the overwhelming support for salon cuts--it must get expensive for those of you who have to go in every six weeks! The problem with me not having time to style my hair is that it looks great after the salon cut, but I'm worried it turns into the Supercut version after I wash it. I was trying to be frugal, but if DH wants me to get a nicer cut next time who am I to argue? ;)

    Actually Diana, you bring up a good point. DH goes into the city to one particular $15 Asian barber shop (he needs a buzz cut every 3-4 weeks because it's so short) and he doesn't trust Supercuts or even salons. One time he had to go to a regular salon in town here because he didn't have time to drive out to the city and he was SO peeved--it cost $50 and he said it was the worst haircut of his life. So he always takes the extra time and pays bridge toll to drive out to this cheap place because there are two Asian barbers there that know exactly how he likes his hair cut and know Asian hair. But he won't let me get my hair cut there because he doesn't think they'll be good at cutting women's hair, LOL. A lot of the salons in this area are pretty fancy and $80 and up seems to be the norm (darn high cost of living). I could go searching for a stylist who might be cheaper (I think there may be some Asian salons that are more reasonable, but more of a drive).

    Krish and Isis, I agree, the hassle factor of having to schedule the next cut and planning in advance is what makes me go so long between cuts. If I was more on the ball I'd schedule the next one at the time. I probably should get it cut more like 4 times a year instead of twice a year.

  • Angie replied 8 years ago

    Personally, I prefer your salon cuts. But the super cuts cut isn't bad :)

    I pay MUCH more to have my hair done every 6 weeks and I do so with pleasure because my hair is an extremely important part of my style. A super short cut has to be cut to perfection - more so than longer cuts - and I am not going to skimp on that part of my look. It's a priority that I budget for and I'm lucky to be able to afford the luxury.

  • tayleigh replied 8 years ago

    I would probably not get my hair cut at all by non-Asian salons, because I feel like the Asian salons know Asian hair better. But I've noticed the difference between the $15 cuts I used to get when I was younger and my current Japanese salon ($40 for a cut and dry) is amazing and that's barely a difference in cost. Of course what's most important is that you find a stylist that you really like, I think.

  • qfbrenda replied 8 years ago

    For what it's worth I like all the cuts, though I like 5/6 best. But this seems like a false dichotomy, as if a $20 cut and a $100 cut are the only two options. I don't think you have to spend $100 to get a good haircut. There are lots of places that do hair cuts in the $30-$50 range that do a good job.

    This is so dependent on budget. If I had to spend $100 on a haircut, I would have to get a style that could be cut only a couple of times a year. Instead, I pay about $35 and go every 7-10 weeks. It's what I can afford to do. :) If I could afford the $100 hair cut, then maybe I would try it. Until then, I don't what to know how much better it could be!

    I agree with Una that consistency with the stylist is very important.

  • cciele replied 8 years ago

    I also prefer your salon cuts and totally emphasize with the cost of cuts (and really, everything else) in the Bay Area. The thing I like about a good stylist is you can tell them, I don't have time to style or fuss with my hair, and they'll give you a great cut that works with your hair and can be pretty much wash and go. Also, good cuts tend to grow out well so I can go for a looooonnnggg time (sometimes 6 months) between cuts--and it's like growing into a longer hairstyle ;)

  • Mo replied 8 years ago

    I think hair style and texture do matter when going for a less pricey cut. I also don't go in for a cut as often as I should. Usually I go 3 or 4 times a year. I pay under $50 before tip. Add me to the list who doesn't want to have to bother styling my hair most days, so I'd rather the cut do the work for me :)

  • Ingunn replied 8 years ago

    I'm with Una, I follow my stylist! She has been doing my hair for six years now, and I don't intend to change that in a foreseeable future. The most important thing is to find someone that you can trust, who understands your ideas and have the skills to execute them. Price matters, too, but there is always a choice no matter your price point. I pay mid range, I think, and I'm often surprised when I hear what others have paid for the same service. It surely is costly to have a nice looking hair!

  • MsMary replied 8 years ago

    One of the reasons I go to the salon is that my stylist and colorist (yes, I have a Hair Team!) both know my hair, they know me, they know my life, and they work with me to keep my look current and appropriate. Plus I love going in regularly and being pampered and treated like somebody special. I spend a fortune on my hair but it's worth it to me.

    Since price isn't really an object for you, I really recommend that you look at is as pampering in addition to just plain upkeep.

  • Echo replied 8 years ago

    I agree about following my stylist. The main thing is finding someone who is really good with YOUR hair, and that is possible at a Super Cuts or another less expensive option, but it is harder to find the really great stylist at those places, IMO. I found my stylist at a JC Penny of all places. I followed him to a nicer salon (more $$) and now he has just opened his own salon with a partner and I have followed him there. He is the right one for my hair, and he is well worth the expense (I do not find $100 out of line for a cut and style). My mom, on the other hand, found her stylist at an inexpensive place. She recently followed that stylist to another salon, but she discovered her at a walk-in, chain place.

    And honestly, I think your hair is so shiny and beautiful that you could get away with almost any stylist! I like all the pictures, although I prefer you with fringe.

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Agree with the others who've said that it's the stylist that makes the biggest difference. And also that your particular hair will factor in. My own hair, which is thin, fine, and curly, isn't a very common type at all. I have had PLENTY of bad cuts, both expensive and inexpensive; most stylists just don't have experience with my hair type! When I find a stylist that does AND who gets my style desires? I hold onto them as long as possible!! With my short hair, I'm happily paying around $90 every 6 weeks or so to get it cut. I ADORE my current stylist, she really knows her stuff AND is experienced with my hair type. It is absolutely worth it to me. Like Angie, my hair is a HUGE part of my look and so getting the right cut is a priority that I budget for. When I wore my hair longer, I got it cut every few months (same price) because it didn't need to precision that a short cut does.

    I quite like your salon cuts Natalie, especially #5/6! The bangs and feathered ends are really nicely done. Plus I think the layering really does make a difference in the overall look. And hey if hubby likes the salon look, who's to argue? ;)

  • rae replied 8 years ago

    If you want a really simple cut and very few layers, I think Supercuts is A-ok. This is coming from someone who cut her own long, non-layered hair for 10 years without anyone saying boo.

    Have you seen those flat irons that dry your hair as you go? I'm wondering if you could get the same effect of 7-8 with your Supercut and without any extra time. I also have this tool that my mom gave me, and it takes about 3 mins to straighten my hair whereas I never would have dreamed about flat ironing before.

  • nancylee replied 8 years ago

    I'd say it's worth the money for a salon cut if you go only twice a year. I go every 5 weeks or so and I go to a salon every time!

    I have had bad experiences with cheap salons in the past, although there is always the chance that you'll find someone talented at once of those places.

  • DonnaF replied 8 years ago

    Another vote for a salon cut, but I suggest at least four times a year to maintain a polished look. I think it is important to find a person you can worth with and then stay with him/her since that person will know your hair and how it grows and behaves -- so you will ultimately get better cuts. When I was looking for a stylist, a lady at a clothing store was talking about how she thought she would fly him out to the Virgin Islands where she was moving, since she didn't trust anyone else with her hair. I figured that kind of loyalty was quite an endorsement! And although he is in the Bay Area, he has clients drive down from Fresno and fly out from Hawaii. I have followed him to several different salons since starting with him in 1985 or 1986.

    He happens to be Chinese American, and I'm also Asian but with the world's coarsest hair (not at all like your shiny hair), but I've never seem him cut another Asian's hair. When my daughter was young, I used to get my hair cut at some ridiculous hour like 6:30 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday (hardworking Asian, right? :)), so I would schedule my appointments 12 - 18 months out so as to reserve the slot. I knew I would be up anyway. . .

  • goldenpig replied 8 years ago

    OK, you all convinced me to go back to a salon next time! Maybe I should find out who DonnaF uses--he sounds amazing!

  • ManidipaM replied 8 years ago

    I have to say your 'cheapo' version would suit me just fine if I could get away with it. Your fabulous hair texture and condition really, really ensures it looks anything but 'cheap', even though viewed side-by-side, I have a preference for the extra movement of the bangs and layers in #5/6 too.

    This was an interesting discussion for me because, for similar reasons to you --- saving on budget and time and effort --- I'm actually going the opposite route. I'm booked with a different, more expensive stylist this month, who is supposed to be good with wavy hair and short styles especially. I'm enjoying the easier wash-and-dry of short hair, but anticipate little time for regular trims once the baby arrives. So I hope to get a shorter cut that grows out well and will let me go a few months without looking too disastrous, before I go back to my usual stylist more regularly. Let's see how that plan works out!

  • unfrumped replied 8 years ago

    I've been going to the same guy for years at $20 . I''ve had several different styles but had gotten into a rut & would tell him to cut the same do. Last year I decided on a big change and collected.photos. Was torn between going to an unknown persons vs.him.. Went to him. He took a lot of time and talked about what he would do a little differently based on how my hair would behave. Also I always tell him don't dare cut it in a way I have to duplicate his blowout skills.

    After that people literally turned heads or pulled.me.over to tell .me how.much they liked my New do, and that is still going on a year later (which I imagine is as much a sign of how badly I needed a change.)

    So the common threads are not just price but results & relationships & consistency. Your friends' stylists might or might not be the one for you and you might have to try someone out & be prepared to make a change if you don't hit it off. The good thing about hair is that you do get a second chance( especially with just cuts) .

    I still really like my guy but paradoxically feel more open to someday trying a new stylist
    with the idea that new can be fun.

  • Keix replied 8 years ago

    I have very similar hair to yours (Asian/straight/long and generally low-maintenance), having tried both layered and non-layered cuts at mid-range "regular" salons and Asian salons in Philly Chinatown. Hands-down, I much prefer the Chinatown hair salons. The prices are cheaper, which is a bonus, but I really feel like the hassle of going into the city is worth the confidence I have in a stylist who cuts my type of hair every single day.

    In fact, right now I'm in Europe for 4 months and am going to try to grow out my bangs until I go home. Especially in the south of France, I don't really trust the salons to have experience cutting Asian hair.

  • rachylou replied 8 years ago

    No question. Salon cut. However, yes, $100 is significant moola.

    I personally don't know what to do either. I am procrastinating on even searching for a place to go. I am in the mood to buy gadgets, not hair cuts... but the $40 haircut bus experience fills me with trepidation: I did not pay for style, I did not get style.

    Also I am going to argue: I would never go to Chinatown for a haircut. Don't make me tell my Toisan stories. You KNOW the style is defined by hiding from the *tax* collectors (and German Hello Kitty and Japanese Honda). The haircut bus lady was Chinatown Asian. Your husband is right: all those little places are meant for men... RANT RANT RANT ;>

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