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

Aveda institute exterior

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.

sign showing services with pricingHigh-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.

Map of aveda institute locations

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.

before photo of woman who is getting her hair cut

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. 😉

Aveda tea cup

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.

Aveda product wall

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.

beautician stations at Aveda

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!

hair wash stationsThen 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.

hair wash stations

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

woman receiving haircut

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.

photo of woman after haircut

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

woman's selfie after haircut

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.

Aveda promotions image

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.

Aveda early bird pricing promotion

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!

beauty on a budget my haircut and mini spa day for under $20 pinterest image

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Saturday 25th of March 2023

I just got my haircut at Aveda. I thought the haircut was okay when I was in there, though there were supposed to be some medium layers, and I don't see any.

Unfortunately, the instructor never stopped by once during the haircut. I realized as I was walking home that the stylist never asked me to look down. Uh-oh! (I saw a video on how that can give you an uneven cut, and all professional stylists have done this.)

Now that I've looked closer, it's actually very uneven, though it looked fine when I was there. I'm probably going to have to go back and get it fixed, and I'm nervous about it bc I'm worried that the instructor won't be there to help again.

Also, it was very loud in the salon, and my stylist, who was very friendly, talked the whole time and joked around. That would be fine, but I'm neurodivergent and wasn't catching all his jokes, especially with the noise in there. It made me feel kind of dumb, though I know that wasn't the intent.

Mary Szilágyi-Ovaitt

Monday 11th of May 2020

I have been using Aveda for my color for years and have saved a fortune. All too often the students forget the shoulder massage :-(! ...and our location does not have the 'lay down' hair wash system!

Molly Stillman

Monday 31st of October 2016

i love going to the Aveda Institute!!


Tuesday 1st of November 2016

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

Valonda Calloway

Monday 31st of October 2016

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


Monday 31st of October 2016

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

Rebecca Lately

Monday 31st of October 2016

How cool! That is a great deal!


Monday 31st of October 2016

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

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