Monday, February 21, 2011

The Great Frugal Failure

Here on The Beautiful Thrifty Life I take great pride and great joy in sharing the ways that I find beauty and style in my life without spending a lot of money. But with great successes, there must also come great failures. And last week I had one.

Growing up, my mother had always taken my hair very seriously and had always taught me to do the same. Even when I was very young she would scrimp and save to be sure she could take me to the best salons so that my hair would get the star treatment. As I grew up and left home, I tried to continue that way of hair care, because I liked the pretty salons and my hair always turned out great. I couldn't afford to get it cut often, but I didn't mind. I always requested a cut that would grow out nicely so that I wouldn't have to shell out another $50 anytime soon. I figured that for something I'd be wearing every day for months on end, a good cut was worth the extra cash.

So last summer when I decided to go bold and cut my longer locks, I went to a nice salon that had been recommended by a friend, and I requested something like this:

I was absolutely ecstatic with the results- it was low maintenance, sophisticated yet sexy, cute yet classy. It did exactly what I wanted it to do when I wanted it to do it, and I even had friends say, "You should have always had your hair cut like this! It's so...YOU!" :-)

Well, as the months went by I enjoyed my new cut even as it grew out. It was still cute and manageable, but the longer it got, the less I felt like styling it in the morning. Eventually it was long enough to put it back up in a ponytail, and so that's what I did. Every day! For me, that's always been my red flag- when I'm just throwing it up in a ponytail every day, it's time for a cut!

We've been trying to save even more money lately, and I was really struggling with the thought of shelling out the usual $50 for a snazzy salon. There was a little voice in the back of my head that said, Come on, how bad could a cheap salon be? They had to go to beauty school too, you know. They must know something about cutting hair. Then one day I got a coupon in the mail for a local haircutting place- a cut for only $5.99!! Seriously? I finally decided that for that price I just had to know. What if I had been paying ridiculous amounts of money for something I could get for six bucks??

And so I went. I brought the same photo of Katie Holmes with me that I had taken to Fancy Shmancy Salon the year before, expecting similar results. Instead, I got something like this, minus the bangs:

It would be funnier if it weren't MY hair.

I should have known when I walked into the salon and the lady sitting behind the reception desk just smiled at me, asked me to have a seat (because someone would be right with me) and looked back at her magazine. After a few minutes she glanced up and said, "I would help you but I'm on my lunch break. Just so you don't think I'm ignoring you or anything." Oh no of course not. Why would I think that?

Finally a stylist finished up with her client, an older gentleman, and called me over. She shook off the sheet-bib-cover-thingy and told me to have a seat. She then put it around me and I could see the short white hairs from the man before me clinging to it. Um, gross.
I showed her my photo and she said, "You know your hair won't lay like that, right?" Ummm....why not? I told her that I had had it cut like that before and it worked out just fine. She shrugged and started pulling at my hair. Then she picked up the photo again.

"Is this longer or shorter in the back?"

"It's short."

"Oh, okay."

We went through the shampoo process (no towel under my neck led to drippy water down my back) and when she was through she shook off her hands, splashing water in my eye, and then ran her damp fingers through her own hair. Nice.

Once she started cutting, she asked if I wanted any layers. Umm, duh! How the heck are you going to get that look without layers? I mean, yes, layers please. She chopped away and kind of brushed through it when she was finished. She could have blow-dried it and styled it, but that would have been another five bucks and this was an experiment in thriftiness, so I figured I should keep my five bucks since it was a windy day outside anyway.

When I left, my hair was short and it looked kinda funny, but I figured it just needed some styling, which I'd give it when I got home. I walked in the front door and saw my reflection in the mirror and said, "Egad, must find curling iron!"

Well, I went upstairs and messed with it but to no avail. I am Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

So, the short end of this long story is that sometimes, yes, you do get what you pay for. Which is fine as long as you don't have to live with it on your head.

Have you had any colossal frugal failures? Is there anything that you believe in paying more for? Leave a comment and share!


  1. I'm sorry, but I have to admit that I was laughing through your entire story...but I really am sorry! I have had two haircuts in a row that were like that...I decided it's worth the extra money to look...normal!

  2. Kasey! I am so sorry! No matter where you go or how much your haircut is, a Cosmetologist should know how to cut a simple bob! I am sorry you had such a bad experiance:-(
    I will be in VA in a few months, so if you would like you can try to just grow it out and then I can cut it when I come!

  3. I had one bad haircut...2 months before our wedding...supposed to be a trim of my much longer than shoulder length hair and it ended up way above shoulders with 2" the tune of $65...18 yrs ago. Now I know to always ask how much before they start, don't go into an 'artist's basement', even with a friend. And I am sure you still look pretty!


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