My Experience at Aveda Institute: Haircut + Mini Spa Day for Under $20

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I can’t believe it has taken me this long to write about the Aveda Institute! It is seriously one of the best frugal beauty deals out there.

Aveda Institutes are schools where students train to become licensed cosmetologists with a focus on using naturally derived Aveda products. If you aren’t familiar with Aveda products, they are made from pure flower and plant essences and are some of the best hair and skin products out there, in my opinion.

img_4309High-end Aveda products and salons would usually be financially out of reach for me as we currently live on one modest income. Enter the magic of the Aveda Institutes!

If you are lucky enough to live close to one of the 66 Aveda Institute locations in the U.S., you can get services at a huge discount because students will be performing the services. But don’t worry, experienced instructors are supervising and approve everything the students do! Women’s haircuts start at $19, though there are discounts available which I will share below.

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Click on this map to search for an Aveda Institute near you

I have been getting my hair cut at the Aveda Institute in Chapel Hill, NC on and off for the past five years. I have never had a bad haircut or a negative experience there! There is one major downside to getting a service there, which I will get to a little later on.

So in this post I’ll share my recent experience getting a haircut at the Aveda Institute as well as some ways to get discounts.

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First, here is the “before” picture of my unruly hair that was desperate for a haircut. It had been at least 9 months since I last had it cut… Clearly haircuts aren’t a big priority in my life. 😉

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After I checked in at the front desk for my 10:00 am appointment, I was offered some water or tea. I LOVE this tea so I always accept the small cup of tea while I wait! I consider it the start of my mini spa day.

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I also always sample some Aveda products while I wait. This stuff all smells amazing. I waited less than 5 minutes and the student who was cutting my hair, Katie, found me in the lobby.

When you call to make an appointment, you’ll be asked if you prefer a certain level of student. Students performing services at the Aveda Institutes are Sophomores, Juniors, or Seniors. Services from students with more experience are slightly more expensive (a few dollars more for haircuts). I’ve always had Junior and Seniors and they have been very skilled.

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Your student will take you to their station where you’ll discuss what you’d like done. I asked Katie to take about 6 inches off and put in some very long layers. At this point, an instructor comes over with the student and they discuss a plan for your haircut and the Aveda products they’ll use. Students must get approval from instructors before they do anything to your hair!

fullsizerender-8Then my favorite part… getting to lie down in this relaxing space to get my hair washed. Students give you a shampoo, scalp massage, and conditioner treatment with the incredible smelling Aveda products.

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I was the only one in there at the time so I had the place to myself!

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Now here is the one downside of getting a haircut at an Aveda Institute for me… it takes a LONGGGG time. I expect to spend around 2 hours there in total, though this trip was an hour and a half. The students are very careful since they are still learning, and they have to get instructor approval at several points in the process.

If you don’t mind the investment of time, you can have an excellent haircut and more for under $20. On top of your shampoo, haircut, and style, you also get a “mini spa treatment” as part of your visit. You get to choose from a mini-facial, hand and arm massage, or neck and shoulder massage from your student. I’ve tried all three in the past and today I opted for a neck and shoulder massage. I think they are all great options.

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Katie offered to take a picture of my haircut before I left, so here is my mugshot in front of the fancy Aveda backdrop. 😉

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And here’s the “after” selfie when I got back into the car. My hair felt so much better! You can also get face treatments (starting at $40), manicures, pedicures, and pretty much anything else you’d expect from a large salon.

Now here are a few tips for saving money on visits to the Aveda Institute. I’ve not sure if all locations offer these discounts, but they are regularly available at the Chapel Hill location.

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New guests at the Aveda Institue Chapel Hill can click here to print coupons for a $10 haircut or $10 off one service, plus 20% off products.

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I got 20% off of my haircut because my appointment was before 11 am during the week (my husband has Mondays off). This is a great way to save on your haircut if you can make it work with your schedule.

Last, if you go a long time between haircuts like I do, you’ll likely get an email from the Aveda Institute saying they’ve missed you and giving you a 20% discount! So I guess it pays to go too long between cuts sometimes.

After my early bird discount my haircut cost $17. I opted to leave a $3 tip for the Aveda “Tip for a Cause” program. You have the option of leaving a tip that goes to a local cause – this month it is PORCH, a grassroots hunger relief organization very active in our area.

I was also SO proud of myself because I scheduled my next haircut before I left! It is about 3.5 months out, which is much better than 9-12 months.

Have you ever been to an Aveda Institute? Would you consider it, or is it too scary to leave your hair in the hands of a student? Please leave a comment below!

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9 Responses to My Experience at Aveda Institute: Haircut + Mini Spa Day for Under $20

  1. Leah says:

    Wonderful, Molly! I’m going next week and am looking forward to it.

  2. i love going to the Aveda Institute!!

  3. Leah says:

    How cool that you are close to an Aveda Institute, Lee! Let us know how it goes if you check it out.

  4. Leah says:

    I agree, Rebecca – it is a lot of bang for the buck!

  5. Leah says:

    The mini-massage is my favorite part, of course. 😉 Thanks for stopping by, Valonda!

  6. This is GREAT information. I love that the mini-massages are part of the deal. Putting this on my list of things to do.

  7. How cool! That is a great deal!

  8. Lee says:

    This is so awesome! I have always wondered about the Aveda institute and with one being so close to my house I may have to try it out now that I understand the process.
    xo, Lee
    wineandcouture.com

  9. Cheryl says:

    I am very frugal in the hair area as well. My husband is the family barber. He cuts my children’s hair each month, and I get mine trimmed every other month. Between the cost of the haircut, transportation costs, etc, not even counting the time we save, it easily saves me over $900 a year. And frankly I always hated the time waiting in the salon, having them yank my hair, cut it too short and then burn my head with the hair dryer. So being frugal is not a bad thing, I call it being smart with your money.

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