Trial Run: Sam Brown's Institute of Cosmetology cuts hair just like the pros

Friday, October 12, 2007 | 3:00 p.m. CDT; updated 11:56 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The idea: Due for a haircut at the end of the month, I searched Columbia for an inexpensive, quality solution.

A friend recently had her hair cut at Sam Brown’s Institute of Cosmetology , 1729 W. Broadway. She got bangs and they looked good, so I figured they could easily trim my overgrown summer style.

While booking my appointment, I decided to add to the challenge and get highlights.

The process: The salon at the front end of the cosmetology school is warm and inviting. My stylist, Felicity, introduced herself and helped me choose a color. She is a student with “junior” standing in the 12-15 month program.

Owner Sam Brown stopped by to give his advice, and the three of us settled on weaving in a lighter color to take my hair from a beach-blonde summer shade to a softer, darker hue for fall.

After highlights, Felicity would wash, cut and style my hair.

Musings: Felicity pinned back my hair and Sam began applying the color, thoroughly describing the process while Felicity watched and asked questions.

At this point it hit me that Felicity was a student, and my haircut was an assignment. She finished applying the color and finished an eyebrow wax on another customer while I waited for the dye to set.

Twenty minutes later, my head was under warm water, bathed in rich Biolage shampoo, since Brown thinks students must practice with the professional products they will use in professional salons. The institute also sells these shampoos and styling products.

Felicity trimmed my long, layered hair relatively quickly and finished with a blow dry.

The verdict: I’m picky about haircuts. I never like my new ‘do right away, let alone within the first 24 hours.

Yet, when Felicity spun me around to the mirror, I loved the polished version of myself. After paying the unbelievably low bill — less than $40 for a cut and color — I had enough money left over to treat myself to ice cream.

Felicity and the staff were polite and helpful every step of the way. This haircut was nothing short of professional, at a fraction of the cost.

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