London is home to some of the best hair salons in the world, but you’ll pay a premium to get a haircut at a top salon. If you’re in need of a trim or fancy a restyle but you’re short on cash, there is another option. There are many salons in London that offer cheap or free haircuts and colours by a trainee stylist.
This can be a great way to get a budget or totally free haircut in a top London salon, and while it may seem nerve wracking to let a trainee loose on your hair and take longer than a normal appointment, there will always be a senior stylist supervising.
In some cases your hair will be cut or coloured by a senior stylist demonstrating how to cut a new style or technique, so no need to worry about the skills of the stylist. However, you might not always get much of a say in the final result if they’re wanting to demonstrate a particular style, so keep this in mind.
1. Toni & Guy Academy
The Toni & Guy Academy is open to the public to get haircuts and colours from trainees five days a week. Expect to spend around three hours for a cut or four hours for colouring, as the trainee will stop at each step to get approval from their supervisor to continue. Trainee experience can also vary quite a lot.
You can request any kind of hairstyle you wish, although both the supervisor and trainee may make suggestions based on your hair or the training needs of the students. If you want a colour you must get a free skin test at any Toni and Guy salon before your appointment.
Price: £5 for cut and £20 for colour
Available Monday to Friday, 9.30am – 1.45pm
71-75 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1DG
The King’s Road salon is one of the most popular Hari’s salons in the city, and is also the home of their training academy. Here you can get a highly discounted cut, and colour services are available for the cost of the materials only.
Hari’s regularly put out a call for models on their Facebook page. Sometimes they’re offering haircuts to people with only a particular hair length or type, or those happy to be given a particular style. All bookings for discounted model styling must be made online and there can be a waiting list of around three weeks. Check the online calendar to see when appointments for your hair length are available.
Price: £7 for cut, £10 – £20 for colour
233 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 5EJ
3. Vidal Sassoon Academy
If you’ve always wanted to treat yourself to a cut at a Vidal Sassoon salary but haven’t been able to afford it, the academy is your chance to get a designer cut and style at a budget price.
Prices are a little higher than some of the other options, but you’ll get the style that you want. Perms are also available on consultation. Be prepared to give up a few hours of your time, as the process is slower than a standard cut.
Price: £13 for cut, colour £15 – £40
Appointments available at 9.15am and 1.15pm
58 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AJ
4. Aveda Institute
The Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa in Holborn has a well-earned reputation as being one of the best hair salons in London, and their products are particularly effective for treating damaged hair. All hair styling services also start with a head massage.
Aveda don’t offer a walk-in service for people wanting a cut or colour by a trainee, but they often post on Facebook and other forums with a call for models. You’ll have to wait until a particular trainee is looking for a model with your hair length or type or wanting to try a certain style (recent calls for models have included one-length bob, blow-dries, and various types of colouring.
Available on Mondays only, 9.30am – 6pm
174-177 High Holborn, London WC1V 7AA
5. Jo Hansford
Hair colour expert Jo Hansford runs a training school from her Mayfair salon two nights a week. A professional colour here will normally set you back at least £125, but for an appointment with a trainee you’ll pay only the cost of the materials. Haircuts are also available.
Price: £10 for a cut; colour £20 – £35
Appointments available on Wednesday evening for colour and Thursday evening for cuts and styling.
48 S Audley St, Mayfair, London W1K 2QB