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Training Day

At top salons, you can snip the price down to almost nothing—if you play guinea pig.

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Aveda Institute
233 Spring Street (212-807-1492)
Cuts cost: $18; free if you’re open to whatever they want to do.
Lag time: Booked within a week of when we wanted it.
Pros: : The stylist-in-training was confident and open to what we wanted; she even offered hints. We asked for long layers, and that’s what we got.
Cons: We were told that requesting the same stylist again “messes with the scheduling.”
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes.
Rating: Three stars

Redken Gallerie
565 Fifth Avenue, near 46th Street (212-984-5027)
Cuts cost: Free.
Lag time: We set up an immediate consultation, where we were given an appointment for about a month later. We were told we’d meet with the stylist before the cut to “reach a compromise” between our goals and his.
Pros: : Redken notifies clients of future color and cut availability.
Cons: The stylist didn’t deliver on any of our requests and disappeared before the last locks hit the floor.
Duration: Just over 2 hours.
Rating: One star

Bumble and Bumble
415 W 13th Street (212-866-7Bumble)
Cuts cost: $20; free if you attend a daytime modeling class and get the predetermined cut.
Lag time: At the model call, you’re given an appointment in the next two to four weeks.
Pros: : Confident trainees: They took risks and gave stylish cuts. Apprentices will give you their number so you can book directly with them.
Cons: Apprentices don’t keep their well-earned $20—it goes to their teachers, so tip well.
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Rating: Five stars

Parlor
102 Avenue B (212-673-5520)
Cuts cost: Free.
Lag time: We left a message and got a call the next day, arranging an appointment for the following week—on “graduated-bob day.”
Pros: : The hip cut was great—if similar to what we already had.
Cons: The stylist’s nerves: Her hands shook through the entire cut. And it’s not reassuring to hear remarks like “It takes so little to throw me off.” Luckily, the instructor was never far.
Duration: 3 agonizing hours.
Rating: Two stars

Stephen Knoll
625 Madison Avenue, near 58th street (212-421-0100)
Cuts cost: $30.
Lag time: No questions were asked about our hair type or the style we desired. An appointment was booked for three weeks later.
Pros: : Our hair turned out just fine—after the instructor stepped in.
Cons: Regarding the front of our hair, the stylist told the instructor, “I’m scared. I don’t want to mess it up.”
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (about 45 minutes longer than the three other stylists in the class took).
Rating: Three stars

Louis Licari
693 Fifth Avenue, near 54th Street (212-758-2090)
Cuts cost: Free.
Lag time: On the phone, our stylist said she’d do anything we wanted—except a trim. We got an appointment for the following week.
Pros: : The stylist confidently matched the haircut in the photo we brought in, providing tips on how to keep up the multi-layered look.
Cons: You can’t request stylists for future haircuts—you never know whom you might get.
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Rating: Four stars

Insider Advice
Paula Casano, co-owner of Gramercy Park’s Insitu salon, on how to head off haircut mishaps.

1. Stop by the salon before your appointment to get a feel for the atmosphere. Also, schedule a consultation: You’ll want to know exactly who is cutting your hair, what kind of training she has had, and what her ideas are.

2. Bring a photograph. A good stylist will tell you whether it’s possible to match given your hair.

3. Tell your stylist your color history, your maintenance regimen, whether you have scalp problems, and whether you’re on any medications (blood-pressure pills, for example, can prevent a body wave or perm from taking).

4. Ask your stylist which products you should use to maintain the look.

5. Speak up if you aren’t satisfied with the results. A good salon should adjust the style if you don’t like it.


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