Beauty on a budget: Headmasters Salon

About two months ago, I returned home from a trip to the US; New York and California. Of course, it was amazing, fantastic, wonderful and all other positive adjectives that are associated with an overseas jaunt. However, what most people forget to mention is the crippling lack of finances that comes with returning home. Well, that’s the case with me! Yep, basically every dollar spent over there.

So what’s a beauty lovin’ girl to do as she struggles to get back on her (in dire need of a pedicure) feet? Expenditure on beauty treatments is only going to cause guilt, and in the case of those with boyfriends, those shifty accusing yet bemused glances – come on girls, you know what I mean.

Having always wanted to try out the services of a hair/beauty school, I figured now was the best time and fired up Google to get researching. I’m based in Melbourne, and there were a plethora to choose from, as I’m sure there would be in the other major cities. I have to admit, quality of web page did come into it when deciding who I would go with, I guess it’s the new ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. Well, Annoymous, I was going to judge them by their webpage because looks are everything in this business! Plus, I was already nervous about students performing treatments on me…

For a $10 blow wave, I couldn’t go past Headmasters, located in the CBD on Collins Street. As I felt this was such a bargain, I opted for a 10-min treatment too, which was another $10. I had somewhere to be, but gave myself an hour and a half chair time. After being greeted on arrival and shown to my chair, an extremely shy girl handed me some papers to fill in, which resembled a hair ‘medical history’ of sorts asking you to detail all the products you use. Thoughtful, but I wasn’t really in the mood as I wanted fab hair, and fast. And please note, this is a budget service so there’s no coffee/tea offer and some a pile of glossies to read. My hairdressers proceeded to mix up my treatment (Paul Mitchell brand) and my first impression was that she did everything very slowly. I decided to tell her I had somewhere to be, so if she could stick to the time frame that would be much appreciated. She nodded, then went on to paint the treatment into my hair, about ten strands at a time. Yes, the most miniscule amounts of hair were attentively coated in the masque. I appreciated the gesture, but anxiety was rising.

In the end, I had to ask her to rinse the treatment out, and get onto the blow drying as I was really going to be in a rush. She approached my wet hair cautiously and began to blow dry, very slowly. Time was seriously flying by and my hair still a sopping mess. Another girl was called in to help, which was a relief and stress levels were hitting the big time. I was concerned that they hadn’t used any product in my hair (yes, none) before blowdrying, nor after – not even a finishing/fly away spray. I hastily paid and left, running for my appointment 20 minutes late.

Not fully deterred yet, a friend and I booked ourselves in for a $30 dollar facial, again with Headmasters. We were led into a small room partitioned with screens, which had about nine massage table beds ready for clients. On the bed next to my friend, I eased underneath the towels and was introduced to a sweet girl who would be my therapist.

‘This won’t be so bad, sharing is caring,’ I thought. The facial itself was adequate, but once again my therapist did everything incredibly slowly, and spent a fair bit of time away from the table finding things. It was quite distracting really, with a gaggle of other students outside the partition deciding where they would like their next tattoo overpowering the rainforest music being played over the speakers. ‘You didn’t pay for luxury,’ my sing-song voice taunted me.

After an hour, with my mask not even having being applied yet, I was beginning to become uncomfortable. A quick peek to my left confirmed that my friend was nearly done. What was taking so long?! Not being the type of facial that you would want to go on forever and ever because it was just heaven on a plate, I became fidgety and felt myself counting the minutes. After an hour and forty-five mintues, I was done. Unfortunately I just felt sheer relief at the fact it was over and also that I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be. I think that is definitely the key with these appointments – make sure they are the last item on your schedule for the day!

While the treatments were definitely good value, especially considering the time taken to complete them, I’m not sure how regularly I would go back. I thought the budget facial might be good for a bit of low-key maintenance from a therapist, but I think I would rather pay full-price for a professional facial, one that’s more likely to induce drool out the side of my mouth rather than stress. However, my friend loved her facial, and raved about her therapists massage skills, (man, I was jealous, the massage was one of the lowest points of my facial!) so I suppose like most things, it’s just luck of the draw!

I might consider trying another hairdressing/beauty school in the future – I was really hoping this idea would have been my budget-beauty winner! Ahh, maybe next time.

So, have you ever had treatments from a beauty school?
Would you?
I’d love to know what you think about the whole idea.

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6 Responses to “Beauty on a budget: Headmasters Salon”


  1. 1 Jade September 30, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Interesting, shame it was such a lengthy process, you’d think they would get taught some customer service skills 0_o there’s a school near me now I’m curious to give it a go hehe

  2. 2 Hannah September 30, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I used to get my hair dyed at a school in Brisbane (years ago when I didn’t work full time, as they only work business hours – grr). Since my colour is the same all over and nothing tricky like foils or fancy stuff, it was a really good, cheap option. They were watched really carefully by their supervisors so it always turned out well.

    You really have to allow at least double the time in case you get a nervous first-year student, and I agree with the lack of product in blow dries (WTF??). I haven’t tried a beauty treatment, but maybe I’ll just keep investing in fully trained therapists. The idea of a newbie giving me a bikini wax… *shudder*

    • 3 hollyjcurtis September 30, 2010 at 9:24 am

      Yes, I guess I didn’t realise they would take so long! I think if I just had block colour ie. Brunette then I may go, but for foils no way! Thanks for your insights Hannah and Jade 🙂

  3. 4 Annette @ Wellness WA September 30, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Great review Holly.

    I’ve had real trouble deciding whether or not to post up somewhat negative experiences on my site, but I think you’ve handled it really well and I’m starting to reconsider.

    Did you contact the beauty school directly after your experience?

    • 5 hollyjcurtis September 30, 2010 at 9:38 am

      Hi A! Thank you, it is hard to go about the right way.. I hope my post was balanced rather than rude or All out bagging! If a product is useless & all I’m going to write is negatie, then I usually just skip it – unless I think it’s something my readers really need to be warned about. (eg. Did damage, caused reaction)

      No, I didn’t contact the salon. During my blow dry I expressed my concern to the supervisor who then chastised the girl and only said to me, “they’re students, it takes double the time.” I think it would be beneficial to let customers know to allow for double time when booking!

  4. 6 olivia November 24, 2010 at 12:12 am

    thanks for the smudging thing, i left a headmasters branch in London in tears a few days ago (loud, loud sobs in fact) after attempting this look with a baffled colourist. i tried the terms ‘ballyage’,’ombre’, ‘dip dye’, nothing worked. i came out looking like a punky badger with white and black streaks all over my normally caramelly brown hair. i havent got over the experience, and have had four appointments in two days to try and rectify the damage, but when i finally DO get over it, I will ask for ‘smudging’.


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