Best NYC salons for affordable single-process color and highlights

These budget-friendly NYC hair salons offer highlights and single-process hair color starting at just $20.

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Anyone who gets their hair colored knows that a dye job with NYC’s best hairstylists can cost astronomical prices. We tracked down places that offer affordable single-process color and highlights, including Arrojo Studio, Fox & Jane Salon and Finishing Bar, and Parlor.


  • Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

    Arrojo

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Fox & Jane

  • The Owl & the Pussycat Salon

  • Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

    Parlor

  • Photograph: Alvina Lai

    Shampoo Ave B

Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

Arrojo

Arrojo Studio

Opened in 2001 on Spring Street by industry vet Nick Arrojo, whom you may recognize as the go-to hairstylist from the first seven seasons of TLC’s What Not to Wear, this sun-drenched salon has since expanded around the corner. The high-ceilinged, 36-chair space lies adjacent to its namesake cosmetology school—hardly a surprise, considering Arrojo’s focus on hairdressing education. Penny-pinchers can call to take advantage of the top-notch apprentice program, whose knowledgeable coiffeurs-in-training will contact you directly for a consultation. (While it’s best to book in advance, last-minute cancellations are common so it never hurts to check even the night before.) If your colorist is working on what you envision, you’ll be invited in for one of the designated hair-model slots at 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. During these sessions, single-process color ($30, normally $76–$123) and highlights (half- and full-head $45; normally $123–$168 and $148–$188, respectively) are a flat-rate bargain price, regardless of your hair’s length or texture. The meticulous sessions are supervised every step of the way by a senior stylist, and include a shampoo and blow-dry (worth $62). Apprentices mix Goldwell color on-site for each client’s individual strand needs, and wash and style the finished look with the house label’s sulfate- and paraben-free products. (212-242-7786, arrojonyc.com)—Anny Kim

  1. 180 Varick St, (between Charlton and King Sts)
More info

Fox & Jane Salon and Finishing Bar

While this two-year-old salon’s cool affect fits in with the trendy boutiques on its Lower East Side block, the affordable prices are a pleasant surprise. Opened by stylist Lorean Cairns and business partner Billy Canu in 2011, Fox & Jane garnered a loyal following and grew to another location in the East Village just a year later. Highlights are a splurge here ($143–$163 for a partial, and $173–$193 for a full head), but a full single-process color cashes in at just $89 with any stylist (although if you have extra-long hair, you may have to fork over an extra $20). The fee includes a consultation, a five-minute restorative conditioning treatment, a finishing style (such as a blow-dry) and one killer scalp massage. You’ll need to book an appointment a week or two ahead to ensure you get a spot, but the individualized attention you’ll receive once you hit one of the five chairs is worth the wait. We suggest scheduling with the Lower East Side site’s senior stylist, Jamielynn De Leon, who used Italian Alfaparf Milano hair color that gave our strands a rich, shimmering hue. Before leaving, nab AG Colour Savour sulfate-free shampoo ($12) to protect your freshly dyed locks. 154 Orchard St between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-837-2774) • 277 E 10th St between First Ave and Ave A (646-688-3643) • foxandjanesalon.com—Brooke Bunce

  1. Various locations

The Owl & the Pussycat Salon

This sunny, year-old salon has quickly gained devotees for its refreshingly friendly, upbeat vibe. Although walk-ins are welcome, it’s strongly advised that you make an appointment to avoid a wait. Of the six stylists available, we recommend booking with Kim Fernandez, who draws upon her extensive Redken training to work with your hair texture, face shape and skin tone. You’ll be guided to one of the four upstairs stations for the appropriate color application: A Redken Shades EQ demi-permanent glaze ($50) is recommended for those looking to revive dull tones, while a traditional Redken Chromatics single-process permanent treatment ($75) is used for color changes (pricier partial and full highlights are also available for $115 and $160, respectively). While you’re waiting for the treatment to set, scope out artwork ($200–$800) created by students at the nearby Pratt Institute; play with salon pup, Lucy; or relax on the secluded outdoor patio. The service concludes with a complimentary wash and dry (normally $45–$60). On your way out, grab the same Redken products ($14–$44) used in the salon to keep your tresses looking vibrant. (718-522-5697, opcsalon.com)—Gillian Fuller

  1. 154 Vanderbilt Ave between Myrtle and Willoughby Aves, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Parlor

Owner Gwenn LeMoine established her brick-walled salon’s weekly Education Monday program when she moved into this garden-facing space in 1999. (Parlor originally debuted in 1994 in a much smaller spot on East 9th Street.) Prospective clients send an e-mail (parlorbeautysquad@gmail.com) expressing an interest in a desired service and are set up for an appointment at 1, 3 or 5pm with the apprentice best suited to the task ($20 credit card or cash deposit required). Wait times can vary from a few days to several weeks, depending on the training needs of available stylists. The salon encourages you to strip down to your underwear and don a robe in order to protect your clothing (although it’s not required) before discussing your ideal color with the trainee and LeMoine, who oversees the progress with several check-ins throughout your service. Single-process color that would cost $125–$260 with a regular stylist is $20–$50 with a trainee, and highlights that normally go for $140–$300 will run you just $40–$50. A shampoo and styling (normally $45–$100) using Aveda products are gratis with any appointment, as is iced or hot herbal tea. Since speed is not of the essence on training days, expect the session to take longer than it normally would: Highlights and a toner—already a two- to three-hour prospect—can take up to four hours. Still, LeMoine’s expertise, Parlor’s exceedingly friendly staff and the slashed prices make the time investment worth it. (212-673-5520, parlorhairsalon.com)—Lee Magill

  1. 102 Ave B, (between 6th and 7th Sts)
More info

Shampoo Avenue B

This small, genial spot has been an East Village fixture for more than seven years, proffering upscale hair services that won’t hit you too hard in the pocketbook. Along with friend Joel St. Yves, L.A. transplant and senior stylist-colorist Carlos Ortiz took over from the original owner in 2010, and now plans to open a second location in Hell’s Kitchen this fall. The narrow, six-chair salon features white walls adorned with black-and-white graffiti-style art, juxtaposed by crystal chandeliers. You can get single-process color (stylist $75, senior stylist $100) and partial highlights (stylist $85, senior stylist $135) for relatively cheap. Colorists use Wella hair color, a line that Ortiz says is true to tone and lasts longer than other brands he’s worked with. Bumble and bumble and Kevin Murphy products are used for washing and styling, with both included in the price of color services. Although Shampoo Avenue B does take walk-ins, there’s likely to be a wait; we recommend booking in advance to be on the safe side. (212-777-2031, shampooavenueb.com)—Jenna Scherer

  1. 42 Ave B between 3rd and 4th Sts


Users say

1 comments
mimi
mimi

I go to this place on union square. You can get a cut and full head of hi lights for under 150! Blown out and styled. Its a studio called "the foil salon" or www.thefoilsalon.com She is awesome, fast and affordable :-) These places sound kind of pricey or you let yourself be a Guinea pig..

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