Mon-Thu, 10am-3pm and 6pm-8pm; Fri, 10am-3pm; Sat, 10am-1pm; Sun, closed
G, R, V at Steinway St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Sometimes getting a bargain requires bravery. At Empire Beauty School on 34th Street, you'll have to brave both the Herald Square crowds and the chance that your student stylist isn't at the top of his class—but you'll likely walk away with a basic cut for a steal. Located on the second floor of a squat office building, Empire's New York branch is the largest of the company's 87 schools, attended by both recent high-school grads breaking into the field and professionals looking for a career change. This training center of about 600 students looks and feels like a seventies high school, complete with display cases showing off elaborately coiffed mannequin heads instead of trophies. Students—most of whom are halfway through their eight-month training—service clients in an enormous, over-70-chair salon. The bare-bones, fluorescent-lit space feels like the DMV of hair care, but the fact that all students are supervised by a teacher, use quality products like Goldwell hair color, and charge incredibly low prices ($8 for a shampoo, cut, and blow dry) makes up for it. In addition to basic hair services, Empire offers perms, straightening, highlights, extensions, manicures, waxing, and facials, though for the latter two keep in mind you won't be in a private room. Prom and bridal packages are also available (with further discounts for bringing in members of the bridal party); products for sale are those used in the salon.
Indoor surfing, spinning lovefests, a luxurious pig-placenta facial, and more.