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Beauty pampering for a lot less

Saving money is always attractive. And with an insider's secret, you can make yourself attractive -- and save money at the same time. That's right, you can look and feel like a million bucks -- for just a few dollars. By letting future professionals learn their magic, you can get everything from a beauty makeover to a massage to dental work for a lot less than you'd expect.

The price of beauty
Just 'cause you want to save money doesn't mean you have to look bad. At a local beauty school, you'll find bargains on everything from the basics, such as haircuts and manicures, to the luxurious, such as spa facials and highlights.

"We offer everything a salon offers," explains Brenda Saric, manager and recruiter for the Oliver Thein Regency Beauty School in Burnsville, Minn. But she adds, "Our services probably cost half as much." Oliver Thein's price list includes $18 facials, $9 haircuts and $30 perms. What a bah-gain!

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Don't think that you have to be broke to take advantage of these deals. Saric says the school's clients are all sorts: "People with tons of money and people with no money." Hey, everyone's looking for a deal, so why shouldn't you?

And just because a beauty school offers great deals, doesn't mean you'll end up looking like a failed Frankenstein experiment. These students want to graduate -- therefore, they want to make you look good. They may be new to the techniques, but they learned them recently.

"All students have an instructor on the floor," explains Saric. "You actually have a better chance of having a bad haircut at a salon with someone who's not supervised."

But there is one drawback. Unlike a professional salon, you can't establish a standing appointment with a favorite technician. The students are required to see a variety of clients in order to get a variety of experiences.

"We don't take requests [for a specific stylist]," says Saric, "because the students have so many requirements to fulfill." Another reason not to get too excited about one student is that they do graduate and move on. But hey, you can always look them up at their new job and pay their new high prices if you want.

Rub me the right way
Beauty may only be skin deep, but the tensions of life can permeate your whole body. And, if money troubles are adding to your stress, you can relax knowing that it's possible to get an hour-long, full-body massage for as little as 55 bucks.

To find a good deal, contact a school in your area where massage therapy is taught. Usually, these schools offer massages to the public at a reduced price so that their students can gain experience.

Imagine how much better you and your wallet will feel knowing you spent a lot less than what a professional massage therapist would charge.

That small fee you pay for being a student's homework covers the overhead costs for the school. States that require licensing for massage therapists don't allow students to make money until they are licensed.

If circumstances allow you to get a practice massage away from the school, you could save even more. For example, a few years back, I befriended a couple of local massage students and got free massages as they were filling their quota before graduation. These rubdowns were at no charge because they were in the students' apartments. Don't try this, however, if you do not know the therapist-to-be. Taking your clothes off and lying down for a stranger in a non-professional setting doesn't seem to be a wise idea.

Cheap teeth
A good haircut and massaged muscles should leave you smiling. And we all know that your smile could make or break your beauty image. Yet those good-looking teeth can cost you a lot. But, if you've been paying attention to this article, you've probably already figured out that you can straighten, brighten and fix any dental woes for a fraction of the cost you were expecting ... at a dental school.

I saved more than $500 when I had my wisdom teeth removed at the now-defunct dental school at Washington University in St. Louis. Yeah, I was nervous about some student trying out his technique in my mouth -- but a teacher was to supervise. My deal worked out even better because the student had an emergency that day and my surgery was done by the professor -- at the same low price!

If there's a dental school near you, go ahead and smile wide. Folks living in the Seattle area can save their teeth and their money at the University of Washington Dental School. According to the school's Web site, their dental services "are 20-40 percent less than a private dentist."

Boston residents can get dental services ranging from cleanings to porcelain veneers to crowns at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine. As the school's Web site points out, patients benefit from the latest research on dental techniques, while saving big bucks. At both of these schools, the fees are a bargain because you are allowing someone less experienced work on your mouth -- though there is supervision. Additionally, UW warns that extra time is needed if you are being treated by a student dentist.

If you have dental insurance, depending on your policy, some or all of the dental work could be covered. The catch is that you'll have to do all the paperwork to get reimbursed for the payment. Both UW and BU offer to assist you in preparing any insurance claims.

Keep in mind that a trade school that offers discounted services to the public may have limited hours or days. Some services may only by appointment or standard hours in weekdays. Take note that they're also closed during student holidays.

So start saving money and looking good today. Just ask at a trade school or medical school near you for a long list of services at a discounted price. Your wallet will thank you.

-- Updated: May 2, 2005

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See Also
Money-saving gems for working moms
20 ways to save every day
Cheap is chic
Financial advice glossary
More advice stories

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