Some of the top salons in the city — salons that charge up to $200 for a cut and blow-dry — actually give away their services once or twice a week. Although newly hired salon stylists have met basic training and licensing requirements, they must still taught the salon’s signature techniques and styles — and even experienced stylists need ongoing training. They have to practice on someone’s hair, and if you volunteer to be a hair model, that someone could be you — and you’ll get your cut free or dirt cheap. If that sounds a bit risky, don’t fret: the salon’s senior stylists supervise the trainee every step of the way. So you won’t leave in shock (leaving in shock is for people who pay full price!). You might be required to stay for an entire trainee class, which could be two or more hours, and women volunteers are generally in higher demand than men. You also won’t get a whole lot of say in the style — you’ll get whatever is being taught that day. But if you’re open to new things, this is definitely the way to go. Unless otherwise stated, services are free. If you don’t see your favorite salon listed, call them directly and ask — most have training nights from time to time.
623 Comm Ave (Kenmore Square)
Dellaria Day Spa
1148 Centre Street (Newton Centre)
This salon dynasty began in Boston, and they actively train their stylists at both their Kenmore Square and Newton Centre locations. Training happens in Kenmore Square on Monday nights at 5:30 pm (cut and blow-dry for longer hair) and 6:30 pm (for short-hair barbering). Get your name on the list by calling the salon. Coloring is available at the Newton Centre location on Monday nights, but models must be there by 2 pm to be evaluated for that night’s class. Call the Newton location to get your name on the list.
286 Newbury Street
This friendly salon uses lots of volunteers, so call and let them know what you’re looking for. They’ll match you with a stylist, who will call you to get more information about your hair. Salon training takes place on Wednesday nights at 7 pm.
8 Newbury Street, third floor
I Soci is an edgy salon that isn’t afraid to push the envelope. It holds its employee education sessions every Tuesday at 5 pm, and they need volunteers for both cuts and color. E-mail the salon if you’re interested; include your name, phone number, and a description of your hair (color; short or long), and the services you want. Models are chosen on a first-come, first-served basis. The salon will contact you when an opening becomes available.
James Joseph Salon
30 Newbury Street
James Joseph Studio
168 Newbury Street
Cut and color apprentice training takes place at this award-winning salon twice a week, on Tuesday and Wednesday at around 6 pm. Cuts, including blow-dry, are $10, and coloring is $25. There’s also a special blowout training session on Monday, which costs models $5 and takes place at the 168 Newbury Street studio location. Call the salon a week ahead, ask for Julie or Rebecca, and find out what their needs are for the upcoming class.
Jerel Roberts Stylists
138 Newbury Street
This salon holds its training sessions on Tuesday nights beginning around 4 pm. Cuts are free, and coloring is never more than $15. Call Darla Kossack at the salon to let them know you and your hair are available.
Liquid Hair Studios
640 Tremont Street
This salon, one of the funkiest in town, is renowned for its edgy style and friendly, funny, welcoming staff. In-salon training happens Wednesday nights at 7 pm. Call ahead and tell them about your hair to get on the list.
11 Newbury Street, third floor
Runway uses lots of hair models and schedules training appointments on Monday and Tuesday at 10 am, noon, 2 pm, and 4 pm. You’ll pay $15 for a cut and $20 or more for a color treatment. Sign up online or call the salon and voice your interest. The Web site sign-up form also lists the types of hair models they’re looking for that week.
Super Cuts Training Center
24 Mystic View Road
It’s a bit of a haul out of central Boston, but Super Cuts holds training throughout the week, and it is in need of lots of models. Just call them, leave your contact info, and they will schedule you sometime Monday through Friday.