Reader question: Where can I get a cheap haircut in Toronto?

getting a haircut bang trim haircuts

I hesitate to ever talk cheap (or in many a beauty editor’s experience, free) haircuts, because it’s kind of like playing Russian Roulette with your hair. After years of bouncing around every hair salon in town—with, I’m sorry to say, often disastrous results—I now happily fork over the big bucks to get the haircut I really want.

(You may think I am totally insane for paying $150 per cut, but I justify it because I only go 2-3 times a year, get free bang trims and think he’s a genius on the level of any boldface hairdresser that works with celebrities. Except way cooler. Bill Angst is his name, but unfortch he almost never takes new clients. I got in 10 years ago, long before I even got into this industry. Obviously, I was destined for a career in beauty. Ha!)

Anyway! All of that being said, I know there ARE ways of getting a decent cut on the cheap. Have a look at my response to this question from reader Pria—and if you have any other tips, leave them in the comments!

I live in [the] Toronto/Mississauga area and need to find a good hairdresser. I have been to sooo many places and can’t seem to stick with one hairstylist that I like. I have paid $10-$55 for a haircut at different salons and I am now looking for someone reasonable, perhaps $40 or under, that does a great job. I always find hairdressers either cut too short, or don’t cut enough off, and they don’t seem to understand the styles that I want. Please help!

Here’s what I would do.

Try calling different reputable salons (eg. Marc Anthony, Fiorio, Civello, Coupe Bizzarre, Donato) and explain what you want to pay (i.e. no more than $40 or $50). Ask them if there is a junior stylist or apprentice who could do your hair for you.

Why this is a good idea: Your cut would be supervised by a more senior person, so I don’t think you’d be risking a botched job. (Which I fear is what might happen if you go to a hole-in-the-wall place, where ALL the cuts are at cut-rate prices and there is nobody to make sure you’re not walking out of there with a bad cut.)

Another option: Go to a hair school. This might mean you’d need to spend more time while the student gives you the cut, but again, you’d be supervised—probably even more than if you went to a salon. Most hair schools seem a bit cheesy so the one I’d try is the Aveda Academy. Haircuts there start at only $35.

(You could also try the L’Oréal Academy. Their site doesn’t specify any prices, but I know they always need models to practice on, and again, it would all be supervised…)

Readers: any other tips for Pria? How much do YOU pay for your haircut?

14 Comments

annabelle
Monday, June 21/2010 at 1:45 pm

I’ve been to the Aveda Academy. My haircut was free. Someone who was just about to graduate cut my hair for his final exam. It was a great cut but be warned…cuts like these take AGES. It felt like forever I was sitting there in that chair.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, June 21/2010 at 3:53 pm

Free? cool – that’s even better!
And yes… I figured these student cuts would take a long time. Good to hear your experience was generally positive though!

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Ellen
Monday, June 21/2010 at 4:40 pm

I am currently paying $80 for a cut and I feel it’s just too much – though I love my hairdresser. I’m thinking of chopping my hair all off so not sure where I’ll go.

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Kate
Monday, June 21/2010 at 6:41 pm

I’ve gone the hair school route for cuts for awhile now and LOVED my results. I’ve been to both the Aveda Academy on King (I’ve never paid over $50 there) and have also been to the Fiorio Academy on Yonge and have had some of my best cuts there! At first it may seem a bit risky, but like the post reads, the students are carefully watched over. Mr. Fiorio himself has given a hand in a few of my cuts (nothing fancy, just long layers). It reassures you to have someone there to guide them. The length of time mentioned is true, way longer than your average – but the pricing will meet your budget and helps out potential great stylists gain experience, what could be better? Good luck!

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Candy
Monday, June 21/2010 at 9:41 pm

There’s a Ray Daniels next to me at the Centrepoint Mall. I know what you guys are thinking: 1. we have heard horro stories at certain Ray Daniels, and 2. really? that place you can’t really qualify as a mall at Yonge and Steeles? I think an angel must have been smiling down on me when I walked into this place though. There’s a really warm and gentle lady named Leila and I love what she does with my hair. She layers it just right and really freshens up my style. It comes out to about $60 with tax and a 15% tip.

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Chantel Simmons
Tuesday, June 22/2010 at 8:56 am

I played Russian Roulette with my hair for more than 5 years thanks to all the free haircuts offered to me! The problem was, when I’d find a cut I loved, the stylist inevitably charged $400. Finally, while getting a pedicure at Concepts Salon & Spa (at Bloor & Yonge), where I get all my esthetics treatments, I asked my esthetician if anyone could cut hair well. She recommended Sun. I love her. Not only does she give me a great cut (that I actually get compliments on for weeks afterward from friends and strangers) but her blow-drys are amazing too. And she’s only $47. I often tell friends to look outside the downtown core – there are many really good stylists who don’t want to pay rent in Yorkville. Because their rent west of Dufferin or north of Lawrence is less, so are their prices. If you only have to go every few months, it’s not such a big deal if you have to drive/TTC out of your way.

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Pria
Tuesday, June 22/2010 at 2:37 pm

Hey guys thanks for the tips!, my main concern is my hair is really long and I think hairdressers use that as an excuse to charge more, even if i go in to chop off half an inch they charge me 50 bucks! I don’t mean to sound cheap but it is unfair, my mom has short hair and she pays about $30-35 bucks for wash, cut and blow dry. I went in once at a very reputed salon in mississauga that ends with “nato” ahem, and the student hair dresser totally butchered my hair I have been traumatized ever since and decided to grow my hair out for a while.

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salon insider
Thursday, June 24/2010 at 6:43 pm

I’ve been working in a salon at a mall for nearly ten years now (at the front desk) so I know first-hand how many senior or intermediate level stylists can try to be sneaky with their pricing. Price gauging is common practice for stylists who don’t have a steady clientele base. They think: charge her as much as I can get away with now because I’m probably never going to see them again. And if she does come back, then great, I’ll keep charging her that price. This happens everywhere but not with all stylists. The key to finding a good stylist for a good price is to build a rapport with them. Try this strategy: Start with a blow dry. Say up front that you’re budget is no more than $30. If you’re happy, tip him/her at least $10. Here’s the key: put the cash in their hand. And right there, say that your regular stylist moved away (fib here, say that you had been seeing them for years) and that you’re looking for a new stylist but your budget is say $45-$50 for a cut. That’s reasonably for a senior stylist in a salon– in a mall. Gauge their reaction. If they brush you off or roll their eyes, then they’re most likely in the group of price gauging stylists with little or no steady clients. If they’re courteous and agree to said price, then book your next appointment right then and there, making sure that the agreed price is documented either by the receptionist or on a business card that you take. Don’t worry about appearing like you’re being cheap, you’re just being stylist-savvy. When you’re back for your cut, bring the stylist a coffee or a bottle of water. Instant rapport. Stylists love this kind of appreciation and you’re most likely to get a good cut that day. You’re not done yet: prebooking your next appointment is key to keeping your agreed upon price. So prebook even if you’re not sure you can commit (you can always cancel on the phone). Even if you only get 2-3 haircuts a year, prebooking tells the stylist that you’re serious about keeping them around – for the agreed upon price.

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JC
Friday, June 25/2010 at 6:28 am

Have you tried Marca College? http://www.marcacollege.ca/hair-services/ They’re a school so you’ll be getting your hair cut by students; however, just like all hair schools the students are supervised by their instructor/a senior stylist. They do haircuts for very, very cheap.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, June 27/2010 at 5:22 pm

@Chantel – Janine was just talking about your new hairdresser, wondering if that worked out for you… so glad it did! Concepts – who knew!?!

Great tips, everyone…thank you!

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Flav
Tuesday, June 28/2011 at 4:00 pm

Try goa beauty salon ,ask for Hanna I belive she is very good and you pay around 30 dollars for a godd hair cut.

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Angela
Saturday, October 29/2011 at 11:58 pm

If anyone’s interested, I need models for haircuts at Holts Salon and Spa – for FREE of course =).

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Agnes
Saturday, November 5/2011 at 2:08 pm

Angela – I’m interested in being a model. How can I get in touch?

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Angela
Sunday, November 6/2011 at 12:15 am

@Agnes
Email me at angela@asyc.co

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