QALI Diaries

Great Hair on a Budget

Great Hair on a Budget

I’m an indecisive spender  - I’ll shop online, add things to my cart and then abandon it before clicking “Confirm Order”. I’ll keep thinking about it for a few more days and then go back and repeat the same cycle a few more times until I finally pull the trigger or the item is no longer available. I have a hard time parting with money (unless you catch me at a Happy Hour). 

That being said, I like nice things. I like looking good and feeling good but duh, nice things cost money. When it came to my hair, I had a really hard time committing to appointments because it was such a big cost and I was never entirely sure how much I was going to be spending. 

I know having a head full of long, thick hair means maintaining my hair will cost more but I was always nervous about the “+” next to every service on a price list. I would talk to my stylist at the start of the appointment to discuss what I wanted and what I was looking to achieve, but most of the time the price was never discussed until I was standing at the till.

Asking someone how much their services cost always made me feel like I was offending them, as if I was saying I don’t value their skills or time unless I’m willing to pay whatever price they tell me at the end of my appointment. As much as I might respect someone’s abilities and the prices they charge, sometimes my bank account has other ideas - and to be honest, it’s usually telling me “nah girl”. Sometimes you can’t make an appointment because you can’t afford it and I wish we didn’t have to feel so bad about admitting that. Let’s be real… everyone has said a silent prayer at McDonald’s hoping their card doesn’t get declined for a 6 piece McNug. 


Everyone deserves to do nice things for themselves, at any budget, which is why we’re upfront about our pricing at QALI - you can come in for a colour or extensions consultation and we’ll walk you through what it will take to get the hair you want, and exactly how much it will cost. We know what it’s like to feel intimidated to ask about the price, so we try our best to give you all the information you need without needing to ask. If you can’t afford a $600 bleach out, but you want some blonde highlights to freshen up your old colour, your stylist will walk you through options in your price range that will still give you that “new hair, new me” feeling. That being said, we’ll still give you realistic expectations - you can’t go from jet black to platinum blonde for $200 (or in one sitting) but we’ll make sure you understand the steps it will take to get you there. 


One of the best options for affordable but fabulous hair is balayage - balayage is a French word meaning “to sweep or paint”, which describes the way the colour is applied. The colour in a balayage is painted on freehand which creates a more dimensional, sun-kissed look. The roots are usually left untouched so when it grows out there isn’t a visible line of demarcation and it’s less obvious that it’s been a while since you visited the salon. 

QALI Hair Extension Studio Vancouver

Go Halfsies 

If you like the look of highlights but aren’t ready to drop the dollars for a full head, you can opt for a ½ head instead - the foils will be placed on the top half of your hair, leaving the underside untouched. If wear your hair down most of the time the bottom layers of your hair generally won’t be visible, so it won’t make much of a difference if you skip the foils on them. If you wear your hair up in a bun or ponytail frequently there will be a more noticeable colour difference between the top and bottom of your hair.


Regardless of what method you go for, toning in between appointments is key to maintaining your colour or switching things up without paying the full price tag. Once my blonde balayage had started to go a bit brassy I decided to go in for a tone and ended up with an ashy cool brown that blended nicely with my natural colour and allowed me to grow out the blonde with almost no maintenance. I got a fresh new look and it cost me under $100. Toners will fade faster than a permanent colour and won’t lift or lighten your hair, but they’re a great way to get a quick change with less commitment and a smaller price tag.

QALI Vancouver Hair Extension Studio

Spend Money to Save Money

Although it might sound counterintuitive to being budget conscious, dropping some cash on good hair products is worth the investment and ends up saving you in the long run. A $34 blowout spray and a $20 texturizing powder lasts me months and makes a huge improvement for my at-home hair routine. Rather than impulsively buying four $15 products that I don’t end up using, I did a bit of research and bit the bullet with pricier items that I was ultimately much happier with. Better products = better hair styling = happier me. Most take home products are available in mini sizes so you can try them out before committing to the full size, or you can book a blowout and ask your stylist which products they used so you can recreate the look at home. 

It doesn’t take a no-limit credit card to have great hair all year round, just a bit of research and planning ahead. Time your appointments out ahead of time so you can budget for them and get services that will be able to handle a salon visit once every 6 months instead of every 6 weeks. After all, your hair is 90% of your selfie so it’s worth taking care of. 

xo Alyssa

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