I alternate fairly evenly between visiting my salon colorist and doing my color at home. And I bet you can guess why—because I can save money, and still have great-looking hair!

Here are seven great savings tips I've picked up over two decades of coloring my hair. These tips can ease any strain on your salon budget all year long!

1. Know when to book your appointment

This tip may work in two different ways to help you save.

  • Slow days "happy hour" prices: Some salons offer special discounts or services on their traditionally slower days (such as mid-week).
  • Stylists who are not as busy may throw in extras: If your stylist is not heavily booked when you arrive, you may get freebies—anything from professional advice to a free blow dry or styling tips—even product samples (my stylist gives me lots of these, and it keeps me from having to buy pricey products as often!).

2. Maximize your color between salon visits

My longtime stylist and I have been "together” for more than a decade now. She gives me so many hints to help my color last longer between visits. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Don’t wash your hair for the first few days to let the natural oils in your hair and scalp replenish your hair and help your color "set" better.
  • From here, if your hair is dirty, rather than washing daily—just wash your bangs or the hair around your temples and forehead. Aim to wash every second or third day—this is because shampoo and water is the number one reason why color fades more quickly.
  • Protect your hair color from the elements—wear a hat when in the sun and precondition when swimming.
  • Use the right products to nourish hair without stripping (this may mean buying a salon-grade shampoo and conditioner, but if you just ask for recommendations, you can go online and likely find a lower-priced dupe that works just as well!).
  • Do this right and you could get an extra two to three weeks out of your color!

3. Ask about salon loyalty clubs and incentives

The best time to ask about perks and discounts is when you’re moving to a new salon—this way, you can choose a place where you know already that you will be earning discounts from the first visit!

One place where you should look for incentives and discounts is on the stylist's menu. For instance, some stylists charge for each service a la carte, while others bundle different services together to help their clients save (my stylist does this).

If you’re not sure or the menu is not posted, ask first. Don't just let the stylist start dabbing on different products. Ask in advance what the whole visit will cost you, and ask for an itemized list of costs so you can see what you can do without.

Also, many salons now charge for a blow dry and style set. So long as you book your appointment at a time when you can go home right after (or have a few minutes to blow dry your own hair in their bathroom!) you should be able to skip this for a savings of $25-$30 per visit.

4. Learn how to touch up your own roots

It took me years before I had the guts to try this, but once I did—I was hooked.

Here is what to do:

  • If at all possible, let your stylist know you want to do this to save money, and ask for his/her opinion on the best products to use/how-tos.
  • You can often get professional-grade products on Amazon for cheaper (and without having to show a stylist's license).
  • With this method you have a whole bottle of color that costs you between $8-$20, and the labor is free (plus you don't have to tip!).
  • You can buy the basic supplies at Sally Beauty Supply (they have a great rewards club). All you need is a little mixing cup, a brush and a pair of gloves.
  • First, do a test check (inside of the arm is good) to make sure the product doesn't irritate.
  • Put Vaseline around the edges of your face/ears/neck to keep the color off.
  • Mix up the color as per the package instructions, then dab onto your ROOTS ONLY with the brush and let it sit for as long as the package recommends.
  • Wash, condition and enjoy!

5. Opt for one all-over color instead of root touch-ups and highlights

Two salon visits ago, my stylist and I had a frank discussion about budget and color. I wanted a very dark brunette color with highlights, which was going to be quite expensive. She suggested a color that included its own low lights, so my hair would look similar but without the expense since I would just pay for all-over color, not highlights and root touch-ups.

While this may not work for everyone, it is worth asking if there is a way to come close to the look you want for less. Stylists tend to be happy to apply their knowledge in creative ways to help a client—mine saved me $50 on color!

6. Check out local beauty schools or stylists-in-training

Every stylist starts somewhere, and you may just luck into a diamond-in-the-rough. Plus, your bill will be MUCH lower (or even FREE)! You can find local beauty schools using BeautySchool.com.

7. Volunteer to be a hair model

Salons frequently participate in hair styling events and require hair models for showcasing their salon specifics. Ask your stylist if this would be a possibility in trade for getting your color and cut done. For more details, click here.