Three ways to liven up your locks for less.
Find a “roving” or at-home stylist
Tracking down this person is the difficult part. Since Illinois doesn’t license home-based salon businesses and many don’t report their earnings to the IRS, these stylists are skirting legal issues, making them tricky to locate. We talked to Britney, a professionally trained home stylist who works in the ’burbs. Like most, she cuts and colors based on a client’s schedule: either making a house call or opening up her in-home salon, complete with shampoo sink and a bevy of high-quality products and tools. “You’ll receive the same great service as your regular spot, minus other customers,” she says. Meaning you won’t have to listen to the next woman over dishing on her neighbor’s affair. Want your own home-stylist hookup? “Ask around to friends, family, everyone—you’ll find them,” Britney says. Or, solicit your current stylist for an “arrangement.” Just be sly about it to avoid pissing off salon management. Britney’s rates (similar to most home salons): women $25, men $10; single-process color or partial highlights $45, full $65.
Visit an alterna-salon
Twisted Scissors’s sunshine-yellow walls provide the backdrop for what loyal client Samantha Starr, a 28-year-old bartender, calls a “spunky, lively” vibe (think vintage-y pin-up posters, floral couches and rose-n-thorn wall art). But it’s the cheap, kick-ass cuts and color at this rebellious West Bucktown salon that draw her all the way from her Berwyn home (owner Angela Hartman, “a goddess at color,” keeps her a bright, buttery blond). After offering clients free beer or wine, tattooed stylists get right to work. One caveat: It’s boomed in popularity since opening two years ago, due in no small part to Starr, who turned her friends into devotees. Now she has to make appointments—and so will you. 2001 N Point St, 773-227-1077, twistedscissorschicago.com. Cuts start at $30 for women, $25 for men (includes blow-dry); color runs at least $60 (single-process), partial foils $75, full $95.
Head to a low-cost chainThe cliché of Weedwacker–like results from bargain chains isn’t always true—salons like Supercuts and Great Clips provide quality, inexpensive cuts without storefront aesthetic appeal. Uptown resident Jay Taylor, 33, regularly goes to a Lincoln Park Hair Cuttery (2734 N Clark St, 773-244-3982) to maintain his layered cut. It’s the same style every time for him—something “they’ve gotten right for the past three years.” The chain also offers its stylists classes on design and color so they can stay up-to-date on techniques and trends. Still wary? Play it safe with a trim or basic cut—so ditch those photos of Rihanna’s short coif. Locations citywide, haircuttery.com. Cuts $15 (sans blow-dry); color starts at $45, partial foils $50, full $80.