It’s pretty much a given that we’d like to spend a lot more time at the spa or salon, indulging in blowouts, manis, and massages. Lucky for us, it’s possible to do it—without blowing an entire paycheck. From getting a trainee blowout to making a referral, here are the seven insider tricks to scoring beauty services for free.
Get a trainee blowout
When stylists are in training, they often need models, who are given free or discounted blowouts, hair cuts, even color and chemical services. Sure, they may be a student, but they’ll have a supervisor watching very closely (and sometimes even getting hands-on themselves). Look into cosmetology or beauty schools such as Aveda Institutes, Toni & Guy Academies, or Carsten Institute in your area.
Student stylists aren’t your only opportunity to embrace your inner hair (or nail, or massage) model. Visit sites like Salon Apprentice or Salon Guinea Pig, which post daily model calls across a large selection of cities. New stylists at top trendy salons often need to clock training hours before they are allowed on the main floor—meaning you can achieve your Dry Bar experience for free. (And yes, even the mimosa is included!) Also check under the beauty section of “services offered” classified on Craigslist. You’ll find all sorts of hair and beauty model opportunities there as well. I’ve even gotten eyelash extensions (a $400 value!) this way.
Score a makeover
Whether it’s the local MAC store, your department store beauty counter, or Sephora, it’s pretty easy to stop by and get your makeup done. Just go in, tell a saleswoman what you’re looking for, and ask for a demonstration on how to get the look.
Donate your hair
Thinking of pulling a Miley or Karlie? Donate your hair! It’s an amazing cause, and if you have hair with lots of length, you might want to consider it (Locks of Love takes hair that is colored or chemically treated, btw). Many salons offer discounts or even free haircuts when you donate your hair to groups that create wigs for kids battling cancer and other diseases. Locks for Love, Wigs for Kids, and Pantene Beautiful Lengths are just a few organizations that accept hair donations, and many salons are thrilled to be involved.
Give out referrals like candy
Many salons will reward their best customers for referrals since word of mouth is a great way for them to get new clients. These rewards can involve free products, discounts, or even free services, so don’t be afraid to ask! (Just make sure to tell your friends/coworkers/acquaintances to tell the salon that you referred them.)
Look for new client discounts
Just as salons will often reward clients for referrals, some give you a reward for being a first-time customer. Look into new client discounts whenever you visit a new spa or salon. For example, European Wax Centers offers first-time visitors a free bikini-line, eyebrow, or underarm wax, and if you visit any of Merle Norman‘s studio locations, you can get a free 20-minute facial.
Go all out on social media
Make sure to follow your salon or spa on Twitter and “like” them on Facebook. Join their e-newsletter. Don’t forget to check in on FourSquare or Yelp as well—many salons and spas are very active on social media and have special sales and offers for their online friends. It’s also a great way to find out if they have a last-minute need for a model, or are having some sort of special event.
Join daily deal sites
Are you on Lifebooker? Gilt City? Groupon? Many of these sites offer huge discounts for buying a salon’s daily deals, which means you can buy packages to your favorite salon for a fraction of the usual price.