Less is more: Student stylists offer high style for low prices

Allow me to fill you in on an important facet of my personality – I will do anything to save money. I buy in bulk, even if it will take me two years to use

Allow me to fill you in on an important facet of my personality – I will do anything to save money. I buy in bulk, even if it will take me two years to use it all. I order water to drink every time I eat out, simply because it’s free.

I clip coupons more than your mom, make curtains out of sheets and only shop at the Salvation Army on half-price colored sticker day.

To put it simply, I am Cheapy McCheap, mayor of Cheapsville.

When it comes to my frugalness, getting a haircut is no exception. In fact, I successfully avoided the entire expensive ordeal for the last eight months.

However, faced with a mane that felt like Cousin It and the daily nightmare of a 20-minute blow dry, I decided it was time for a change.

Finding a hair stylist in Philadelphia on my tight budget proved to be quite the conundrum. In a city rife with high-end salons, the dreaded words “$45 and up” seemed to pop up far too often for my taste. It became clear that I should turn to those who best understand my financial circumstances – students, more specifically, cosmetology students.

And so it was that my solace arrived in the form of a $12 wash, cut and style at the Jean Madeline Aveda Institute, a local cosmetology school brimming with big talent and small prices.

Tucked away on a quaint corner just south of South Street, the Jean Madeline Aveda Institute at 315A Bainbridge St. sits amid tiny shops and cute apartments.

On the outside, the salon looks more like the trendy boutiques surrounding it than a trade school.

Inside the signs of stylists-in-training are more obvious. Long mirrors reflect rows of life-sized plastic heads sporting different hairstyles under construction.

The spacious studio bustles with student activity. Budding cosmetologists (with their own interesting coiffeurs) cut, curl and chat at their stations, while blow dryers buzz in the background. Hair clips hold evaluation forms on mirrors. Teachers patrol the aisles, checking up on the progress of real and fake scalps alike.

It all contributes to a sense of organized chaos about the place. But rest assured; they all seem to know exactly what they’re doing.

My stylist, Philly Chann, admitted she felt a bit nervous about chopping off my extreme lengths.

But she listened attentively to my requests and explained the process every step of the way.

Apprehensive about losing more of my hair than I bargained for, I requested that she add an extra inch, just in case.

Philly gladly obliged and checked with me about the length several times before commencing the cut.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my inexpensive cut even came with some fancy fringe benefits. My service started with a cup of comforting tea and a relaxing scalp massage and finished with a rose water hand rub. Talk about star treatment.

Philly was very focused and hell-bent on shaping my layers just right. I appreciated the extra effort as well as her genial, yet professional, demeanor. She even gave me handy suggestions for replicating the style as she dried the final look.

I have fallen in love with my new coif and would recommend the Institute to anyone in search of a hair revamp.

Just make sure you arrive with photographic suggestions in hand, an open mind and a good amount of time to spare.

I spent more than two hours getting clipped and snipped, which is a bit excessive. However, taking into account the low-priced, high quality treatment I received, the positive aspects definitely outweighed the few negatives.

The Jean Madeline Aveda Institute also offers a long list of cheap salon and spa treatments ranging from $8 manicures to $40 highlights.

On a college student’s sparse budget, the Jean Madeline Aveda Institute is definitely paradise for anyone counting their pennies.

Kate Bolesta can be reached at katy.bolesta@temple.edu.

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