Save Or Splurge

There are a lot of differing opinions about seeking professional help for hair and beauty services vs doing them at home for cheaper. I hope to present an as unbiased as possible review of several services to help best guide you towards investing smartly in your appearance.


This all really depends on what the final look will be like compared to the look your hair currently has. If it’s a simple all over color with only a small hue difference from your current color- go for it. Just buy smartly. Box color might turn out fine every once and a while but I HIGHLY recommend visiting a beauty supply and buying color and developer on your own. Some beauty supply stores will have licensed cosmetologists on staff who can help you find what you need but don’t assume they know what products will work for what you want to accomplish if they are not licensed. If you are going to take the time to dye your own hair do a little research and educate your self about the basics of hair dye.

If you have plans to lighten your hair with bleach or if you have ever dyed your hair before it is very important for you to visit a professional. Color cannot lift color and bleach is a very volatile product which can permanently damage your scalp or hair if you do not understand the basics of bleaching.

If you are trying to cut costs I suggest doing a mix of salon and at home. Go to your stylist for the bleaching and finish the color at home, just realize that you are risking spending more if you need to return to the salon to have the color fixed. You also might have difficulty getting your color formula from your colorist, many colorists will keep these secret to avoid loosing business or to prevent you from taking it to another stylist. This is a bit of a standoff in the industry- some colorists feel their service is about more than the formula its about the connection and luxury while others feel like constructing formulas is what separates colorists from box dye. If your colorist has a problem giving you the color formula don’t take it personally, instead maybe consider a color that will grow out in a more flattering manner so that you can skip a visit with out your roots looking like a nightmare when you return.


At home facials are easy enough, but have you objectively examined your skin type and correctly chosen products for it? This is one service that I think you need to only do a few times in your life. As long as you’re paying attention and asking all the right questions you will be able to fend for yourself for longer than you’d think.

There are 3 stages of life that most affect the skin that I think are important to be aware of – teenager, adult, and post-menopause. Teenage years are of coarse everyone’s favorite, your body is full of hormones as your body goes through its changes from girl to woman and your face looks like a war zone. Adulthood for skin is reached mid to late 20’s which can be just as difficult as teenage years, or at least I feel so. Nothing is worse as a beauty professional than giving clients advice about skin care when your own is clearly not behaving. Finally the last stage is post-menopause, I think this is when skin type can change the most. The majority of my older clients have experienced very dry and thinning skin at this point which can be a nice break for those who were previously of an oily skin type but left unaware of how to care for their new skin type.

If you are in between one of these points of your life and your current routine is working well for you then stick to what you’re doing. What works for you works- so don’t let any one or thing change your mind.


I am currently working as an eyebrow threader so this will be a little less unbiased. I believe in having a shape that is specifically crafted for your facial features. As a threading artist I use your bone structure and natural growth pattern to determine the best shape of eyebrow for you. If you have a well balanced shape from your own tweezing then there is no real need for you to get them professionally done.  If you have any doubts or questions about your eyebrow shape then I highly recommend you find an eyebrow expert near you.

If you’re going to take the time and money to see a ‘professional’ do your homework on them too! Far too many ‘professionals’ in the cosmetology industry do not take eyebrow shaping seriously and all too often that includes rules and regulations about sanitation. Go somewhere that is know for doing eyebrows- just about every hair salon will offer it but not all of them will be skilled in it. It might cost you a little more for these places but it will be worth it.

Of coarse I truly believe threading is the best kind of experience you could have for eyebrow maintenance but to each their own. Check reviews of their work no matter what you choose- not all threaders are created equal! Eyebrows have the ability to change your face dramatically so only trust it to someone who will make you look amazing.


This can be another tricky service that’s best to start off in a salon. There are 2 main types of straightening products: thio and sodium hydroxide. It is imperative to know which one is right for you. The wrong kind can either have little effect on your hair or leave you completely bald for life- literally.

If you start at a salon with a thio then doing your regrowth is less of a hazard but there is still a risk. Be extremely mindful about time and I highly recommend having a friend assist you with it. Your regrowth will take less time to treat than your initial visit did and it can be difficult to coordinate areas on the back of your head.

However if you are using a sodium hydroxide I do not believe that is something that should ever be done outside of a salon. Thios are much gentler and easier to manage but sodium hydroxide can have immediate scarring effects on your scalp. Sodium hydroxide is one of the main ingredients in Drain-o, it is safe to use in the right hands but if you wouldn’t imagine doing your own heart surgery I definitely advise against doing your own SH relaxer! There have been cases of scalps melting even in salon settings so this is not something to take lightly.

If you’re unsure of what kind of straightening system you had done, ask your stylist.


*Another cost saving option is to visit a cosmetology school, their prices might not be rock bottom but you will be giving a student a real client to work on and even if they don’t have much experience their instructors do and will watch over them closely. Personally I feel that community colleges are the best option, private cosmo schools are great but some will hire newly licensed cosmetologists as instructors or have students mentor other students instead of employing more instructors with more experience. Private schools have their benefits over community colleges but the instructor program for colleges is much more rigorous and often the instructors there will have quite a few more years of in-salon experience and teacher training.

So there are my as unbiased as possible tips about when to see a professional for beauty treatments! As always do your research before doing any service at home and don’t be afraid to talk to your stylist/colorist/esthetician about how do successfully do it. They will give you the best advice for what will work best for you, although slightly more biased, and can help guide you to safe savings.

3 thoughts on “Save Or Splurge

  1. Thank you for that article. Very useful. I had m’y eyebrows threaded for the first time and while she did a nice shape I’m not certain this suits my features really well.

    • Glad to help! Some people are not trained in shaping the way I was, so their approach might be a bit different. If the shaping is not symetrical though then there is a problem with the quality of their work. Speak up about it next yime you go in and maybe try another artist!

      • She’s a nice girl and did a decent job plus I’m a softie so I’ll probably go back. But I will make sure next time I know what I want! 🙂

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