July 01, 2012

Caring for my Hair and the Cost

Recently a reader of my blog e-mailed me about any frugal ways of caring for my highlighted blonde hair. Haircare, makeup and skincare products can eat up a budget if you aren’t savvy.

Here is what I know about my hair: I am blonde by birth but as I have aged my hair color has obviously gone darker and greyer. If I don’t get it highlighted, my hair will be a dark blonde or dishwater blonde as some people refer to it. My hair is thin but does have a little wave to it when it gets wet. On a humid day my hair will not stay perfectly straight, the wave comes through and as it grows out I have a little bit of curl at the ends.

I have my hair highlighted by my stylist every three months during the warm months and about every four months during the winter months. It turns out beautiful and lightens my hair with what appears to look like natural highlights.

In the winter months I am able to get by with my hair being darker so I go four months between highlighting. The cost for getting foil highlights (in three shades of blonde) is $60. Yep – It is probably the most unfrugal thing I do. Highlights make a big difference in my appearance and I feel it is worth it. However, in saying that, if I could not afford professional highlights I would find a way to get my hair highlighted perhaps by a friend whom I trusted. I am not confident in highlighting my own hair. I have had numerous discussions with my stylist about stories of hair coloring/highlighting gone bad and the cost of fixing those mistakes.  Also when it comes to putting chemicals on my head, I would rather leave it to the experts.

The first year I was home full time, I didn’t get my hair highlighted at all as our budget was beyond tight. I had the choice of grocery money or hair money and frankly, we needed to eat. As we paid off bills I was able to free up some money for getting professional highlights in my hair.

For me to pay someone to do the job right, is worth it, but it is up to me to keep it looking good. How do I do it? I don’t shampoo my hair every day. I shampoo every other day. Think of your highlighted/colored hair like clothing. The more you wash your clothes, the more they fade. The same is true of highlights. I also use Suave Color Protection Shampoo and I only lather once. Yes, I use Suave or Pantene when I can get it on sale such as I did yesterday with a great coupon deal. I don’t buy shampoo at the salon. It is just not worth it. Also, I use conditioner every time I shampoo. While I towel dry my hair I apply a liquid volumizer that I have diluted so that I get the volume but I extend the bottle so it lasts me a year.

I blow dry my hair alternating between the high (hot) and low (cool) settings. In other words when my hair feels warm I switch to cool to cool off the hair strands and I use the cool air to blow the hair around. By alternating from high to low I don’t wreak too much heat damage to my hair.

As my hair has grown, I have found that I don’t need to flat iron it every day. Some days I blow it dry and apply a balm to it to help the small amount of natural curl that I have. I scrunch it and it ends up looking pretty good, especially if I use a little barrette on the side, and I leave it at that. If I am going to be home all day, my hair does not need to be picture perfect. In fact I find that as the day goes on and I get a little a natural oil in it, it tends to look better. The next day I skip the shampoo and I may pull my hair back into a pony tail or I pull it back and leave the sides down. I use a flat iron to straighten the sides and back into a flip. Some days after shampooing and drying I flat iron my hair and let it be straight for the day.

By not using a flat iron every day and by being careful with the heat settings on my hair dryer, my hair does not get the damage that it used to get when I was shampooing, drying and ironing or curling every morning. Therefore because my hair does not get the damage that it used to get, I am able to grow my hair out and not get the ends trimmed as often. I am now at about 7 weeks for a trim when I used to go in every 4 or 5 weeks. 

If you have a shorter hairstyle, it takes frequent trims to keep the appearance looking good. I have found that as I have let my hair grow to shoulder length (and the goal is to get it 2 inches longer than that), I have the option of going longer between trims with my hair still looking great. If my hair starts to bother me and I have another week to go before a trim, I simply pull it back.

To sum up: I never use a curling iron or flat iron two days in a row. I blow dry my hair alternating cool and high to prevent further damage. Because my hair is getting longer, I have options of pulling my hair back with a clip, putting it into a pony tail or using a barrette to pull one side back. I only shampoo every other day and I only lather once and I always use conditioner.

Although I have never tried it, I have read that chamomile tea sprayed on your hair while you are out in the sun will help your natural highlights show up. I have never tried this as when I am outside in the sun I tend to wear sunscreen and a hat. I have read that lemon juice will do the same thing but lemon juice dries out your scalp.  Also, I am not in favor of putting acid on your hair.

Back to the cost of highlighting, at $60 for every 3 to 4 months, I have to save $5 a week to find the money to pay for this. I can afford $5 a week.

Next post:  makeup on a frugal budget.


Becky said...

That sounds pretty frugal to me and I love your hair! I pay $163 plus tip for haircut, color and all-around highlights on my long, dark brown hair with lots of grey. I get it done 4 times a year but would love to do it more often as my roots look terrible after the 8th week. It makes me feel attractive and well worth the expense IMHO. I wash my hair 3 times a week which is plenty unless I've been to the beach. Like you said, I really believe this helps keep the color from fading. I use John Freida Full Repair Shampoo & Conditioner that I purchase on sale with coupons.

BTW - I love reading your blog! Are the college girls away for the summer?

Martha said...


The college girls have jobs here and they are living with us through the summer. It has been very busy in our household.