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Money-saving tips for hair maintenance

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Spending $60 on a fresh relaxer and a basic cut is not an unusual price. And for the basics (relaxer every three months, professional wash biweekly for $40), that can easily add up to approximately $1,120. Add in hair color, a full haircut and extras (such as eyebrow waxing) and the price skyrockets.

Everyone doesn't have the confidence or know-how to relax, wash or cut their own hair. But everybody has the right to save money when possible.

Give cosmetology schools a chance

A licensed hair professional may charge $60 for a relaxer, but cosmetology schools, such as Truman College, charge $25 for virgin hair and $20 for a touch-up relaxer. A licensed hair professional may charge $40 for a full haircut and wash, but Paul Mitchell charges $15 to $21. Make sure faculty members are licensed and verify pricing before showing up to a cosmetology school though, but don't ignore these students. As with any job or career field, everyone starts out new at some point or another.

Barbershop lining for short haircuts

Don't underestimate how well barbers can do a shape-up or line up the "kitchen" of a woman's short haircut. Beauty salons tend to charge more to do this. Call local barbers to see how much they'll charge to do the same thing. But talk to barbers the same way as tattoo artists; make sure they've actually worked on women's hair before or would at least be willing to negotiate the price for being a newbie.

Pay attention to a beautician's next step

It's fair to understand why many women don't want to do their own hair. Running shampooed fingers through hair isn't the problem. Even lounging around with conditioner on for a set time works out well. But after hair is clean, then what? Without a beautician, she's stuck figuring out how to style her hair once it's dry. Beauticians usually turn the styling chair away from the mirror. With a woman's back turned, how can she possibly see what the beautician is doing? Just ask. Or pay attention to how it feels. Flipping through magazines, talking to other patrons, watching television and falling asleep are great ways to be regular customers. But for customers who want to save a few dollars, be more observant. Check out the products that are being used to style hair. What's combed? Which way? For how long? What brand is that? Be inquisitive but don't turn the beauty salon visit into an investigative report. And since a customer is paying for a service, she has just as much right to ask what's being done as she would ask a chef what's in a meal item she wants to eat.

Be creative with bad hair days

Got a wrap? Does it feel like that wrap is starting to become a cotton ball? Enjoy it. Braid hair up until it waves, undo the braids and enjoy the crinkles. Got straight, limpy hair that refuses to curl? French Roll, it is. Have split ends or dried tips completely ruined a bob? Get those clipped immediately to avoid ruining more strands of hair, but check out shorter hairstyles that are easier to maintain. If a ponytail looks more like a rat's tail than a ponytail, twirl it into a circle and tie a loose knot to resemble a pretzel. And if all else fails, head wraps come in many colors. Wear one to match the outfit, apply some lip gloss, a nice pair of earrings, make sure the eyebrows have a decent shape and let people enjoy admiring the face hiding behind the hair.

There is a time limit between chemicals, such as hair relaxers and hair dye, for a reason. Don't be so impatient for the next look that it'll compromise the hair growing from the head.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest black hair & hair health entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Black Hair & Health channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews.

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