Those 10-minute, 1 000-yen haircuts for men are well documented in cheapo circles. But I’m claiming I know something new, half the price and for women, too.

Sounds too good to be true, right? It is actually true, but there’s a catch – you have to be willing to get your hair cut by a trainee or assistant stylist.

Cuttaloca is a site used to match trainees with hair models willing to have their hair cut and styled by them. You can check out the stylist’s salon online, read their profile and see their feedback.  They are usually trainees or assistant stylists looking for experience and most of the appointments are available after salon hours. They also offer colouring and perming for discounted prices (1 000 – 3 000 yen). One thing to note is that Cuttaloca charges a 500 yen fee for “matching” you with stylists. The cuts themselves are completely free of charge.

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You login through Facebook and set up a mini-profile with what type of cut you’re looking for and when you want to go. Stylists can send you offers of appointment times to choose from, or you can send a request to a stylist. Within 24 hours of signing up to the site I had arranged the appointment and paid the matching fee at a Lawson. I rolled into a chic salon in Omotesando after-hours two days later.

All the staff were super chilled out and my stylist took a lot of time to talk over what he was doing. I gave a picture that he used as a reference. It was an awesome experience to hang out with the salon staff after they closed up shop and he gave the most hair-styling advice I’ve ever had.

The only factor to consider is that the site is Japanese-only. Usually the stylists also expect you to be able to communicate what you want in Japanese, so if your Japanese isn’t conversational it’s totally okay to bring a fluent friend.

So, next time you’re thinking of getting new hair style but don’t want to burn a hole in your wallet, try a trainee stylist! You’re also doing a good deed because the more chances trainees in Japan get to practice on non-Japanese hair types the better!

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