Great Clips + Sally Beauty Supply Vs The Salon

hair-colorI have another confession to make. It’s probably the number one reason why I never fit in as a true Southerner growing up in Kentucky. Ready?…. I hate to have my hair done. I have naturally straight, thin, brown hair. My Mom always loved big hair, even before big hair was a thing. She started me on perms when I was in 5th grade. Highlights followed. Until I was in my early 20’s, I had a standing haircut, color, or perm appointment every 3 months. It was more regular than the dentist!

I gave most of that up a long time ago, but I do still enjoy the results of a good color job and a new haircut. We all know it’s easy to spend a small fortune on personal care, but I don’t think it has to be that way. I though it would be fun to compare the cheap  DIY routine of Great Clips and Sally Beauty vs going to the actual salon.

In A Perfect World

If life were as it was supposed to be, I’d just cut my hair really short and let it go gray. I am OK with getting older, but I’m not ready to let it go to that just yet. Although brown is my natural color, I really believe I was meant to be a red head. It’s hard to find a stylist who is willing to dye my hair red. I’m not sure why, but that’s my experience. Let’s just say I have had some interesting colors over the years, either from home experimentation or from stylists who could not commit.

The Salon Experience

I’ve mostly used the same hair stylist for over a decade. I found Sandy through a recommendation years ago. She really understands me and is not afraid to dye my hair red. She looks the part too, with her hair always styled and nails done. When I go to her salon, it’s a very relaxing environment. She has background music, filtered water, and a shabby chic decor. In the evenings, she even offers wine or champagne. Her salon is full service and offers any sort of hair treatment, manicures, pedicures, waxing, tanning, extensions, etc. It usually takes about an hour and a half to two hours to get a shampoo, color, cut, and blow dry. It costs around $100 including tip.

I realize BFE, Colorado is not the most expensive place to get a hair style. Back in our spending days, I once went to a fancy salon in Las Vegas. My stylist was a very tall European fellow who had his own army of shampoo girls. Mostly, I remember his enormous shoes. They were those pointy toe kind that most American men could not pull off. I remember thinking they could double as gondolas at the Venetian. Anyway, that appointment took over 2 hours, set me back $250, and I didn’t even get a color.

Great Clips

As of last week, I hadn’t had a hair cut in over 6 months.  I looked like a shaggy dog and my hair color was kind of between brown and hay yellow. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Great Clips is kind of like the McDonald’s for haircuts. They don’t do coloring or any other salon services. I got a coupon in the mail for a $7.99 haircut and thought I’d go for it.

You never need an appointment at Great Clips. I walked in and had maybe a 3 minute wait. You get  whoever is the next stylist in line. There were two ladies working when I went in. One of them looked normal. The other one, well, I’m not sure if she cuts her own hair, but it reminded me of a cross between a mullet and Mohawk. It was dark at the roots and bright orange at the tips. Maybe that’s cool with the younger set? Let’s just say I was relieved when I got the normal looking one.

The decor at Great Clips is gray, literally. All the chairs, counters, floors, and cabinets are gray. The furniture could have come from a box at Office Depot. The overhead lights are super bright fluorescents. The most colorful thing, aside from the one stylist’s hair, was the display of hair products for sale.

My stylist asked me how I wanted my hair to be cut. I asked just to have the ends trimmed up, maybe one or two inches off the bottom. She wet my hair with a spray bottle and went to work. We chatted a bit about our kids. She was nice and efficient. It took about 10 minutes. I went up to the counter to pay and was charged exactly $7.99. I gave a $2 tip, which felt cheap, but I’m never sure what to do with tips on low cost services. She did try to sell me a conditioner from the store, but I declined. It wasn’t a memorable or particularly relaxing experience, but it was fast and cheap.

Sally Beauty Supply

A Sally store opened up in our town about 6 months ago. I was anxious to try it out. If you are unfamiliar, Sally sells hair and cosmetic products like a stylist would order. I do color my own hair from time to time, usually when I need to look presentable and haven’t been in to see Sandy in forever.

I bought a color and cream developer with a bottle to mix them in. I also bought a pair of disposable gloves. The grand total came to $8.14. You can actually get cheaper colors, but I chose to try the soy based one. I’m glad because it didn’t smell nearly as bad as the regular ones.

It took me about 10 minutes to get everything mixed and on my head. I did some laundry and scheduled a blog post while I was waiting the 35 minutes for the color to set. Then, I jumped in the shower and rinsed it all of. For a type-A, it’s really, really hard to sit for over an hour to get your hair done. I loved being able to multi-task while doing it at home.

Final Verdict

The salon wins hands down for atmosphere. Great Clips is very utilitarian while Sandy’s place feels like a warm cocoon.

Great Clips and Sally win hands down for price. If you want a basic hair cut and don’t mind getting dye on yourself, it’s awesome. If you are someone who would freak out if your hair comes out a different shade than you thought, I would not try this at home. Also, if I wanted a more elaborate haircut or hairstyle, I would not go to Great Clips. For under $20, you kind of get what you pay for.

For the time involved, the cheap approach works much better as well. I like being able to walk in without an appointment, and I love being able to get housework done while my hair was changing colors. I’ll probably always go to the salon off and on, but if you’re on a budget or just don’t have much time, the cheap route is certainly more than adequate. After all, hair always grows back and dye always fades. What do you have to lose?

Do you DIY for hair care? Ever had a bad hair cut or color job?

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. I admit, I go to Great Clips. I’ve gone the salon route in the past and didn’t really feel like there was much difference other than the price. Maybe I just visit bad salons! 🙂

    I really enjoy having my husband color my hair using supplies from Sally Beauty Supply. I went that route after a Feria box dye gave me a funky color not advertised on the box.

  2. I was just talking with a friend about this the other day; she colors her own hair with supplies from Sally’s. As I approach my 40’s, I am thinking of it but as of now, I’m highlighting and getting my hair trimmed a few times a year. As of today, it hasn’t been done (cut or color) since the beginning of January and I’m certainly due but not willing to fork over the cash.

    I was glad to read about your experience.

    1. We have had lots of travel this summer and fall, and I am with you. I just don’t want to fork over an extra $100 that would buy a hotel night somewhere fun.

  3. When I was in college, I went to great clips every 4th Thursday and saw my “regular” lady. We did get to know each other over time and she did a good job with my hair cut. Then, my BFF would color my hair every 6-8 weeks (to touch up the roots, not all over, YIKES!). It was pretty cheap and my hair looked decent. Then after graduation, I moved back to my tiny hometown and had to either really DIY it or go to the salon. I’ve been going to the salon ever since, though I stretch it as far as I can between visits and try not to go to complicated with my color to cut down on costs.

    1. I would love it if Groupon was in use here. There are a few places in Durango that are on there, but that’s still an hour away.

  4. Nice! I cut my husband’s hair at home and I’ve gotten pretty good at it! But, I’d say my hair is currently in a state of neglect… it’s realllly long and needs a trim. I can’t stomach salon prices and we don’t have any cheap-o Great Clips-esque options close by. I want my husband to cut it for me, but he’s hesitant–I’m sure it’ll be fine though :)!

    1. Too bad he is hesitant. My guy cuts my hair for me and it has saved me hundreds. Perhaps the next time your husband wants his hair cut, you could tell him you need one too and it will save money. Don’t ask for anything too elaborate, just a trim and watch a couple YouTube videos first. Hopefully it will ease his concerns about screwing up your hair. I know I have received far too many bad haircuts at the salon. Good luck, I’m sure he will do fine.

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