My luck in finding great hair cutters who work for a song may have run out.

The trouble started last year when my long-time hairstylist abruptly disappeared. After a few cryptic phone conversations, the awful truth came out. She had left the country and returned to her native Afghanistan to work for the US government. She was skimpy on details, but in speaking to others I surmised the work she was doing was both dangerous and lucrative. A heck of a lot more lucrative than the pittance she had been charging me for a great short haircut: a big $50.00.

For my next cut she recommended the owner of the hair salon where she had been working. Which turned out to be DISASTERVILLE! The woman whipped out a razor and proceeded to scrape and thin out my hair while bad-mouthing my previous short hairstyle and pushing her expensive salon products on speechless me. Numb and stunned, I finally made my escape and shambled up Third Avenue, spooking passer-byes left and right with my new witch wig.

So profound was the shock of that wicked haircut, I haven’t set foot in another salon for 16 months. Since then I’ve let my hair grow out and worn it pulled back in an elastic cord. When it gets too long I chop off a few inches, the unevenness camouflaged by the bunched hairstyle.

But finally I’m sick of that and have been looking around for a new stylist who knows her way around a good short haircut and who charges considerably less than $100.00. I have found both those things — just not rolled up in one person. The personal recommendations of women I know here in the city are in the more expensive category. Ditto the recommendations of women whose cuts I’ve admired on the street. It turns out haircuts with talented stylists can zoom anywhere from $100 to the stratosphere. Highlights now cost from $200 to $500. A smidge out of my range since I was previously paying for a cut AND a full head of highlights the awesome total of $110.00.

During my search I found a New York Timeout list of the city’s best cheap salons featuring beauty schools and top salons that charge low prices for hair cutting and coloring done by assistants and stylists in training.

I’ve also been reading customer reviews of hairstylists on Yelp and City Search. Conveniently the reviews are arranged by salon neighborhood, category and, in yelp’s case, by expense. I’ve also come across a few people who questioned the validity of excessive laudatory reviews for a few hairstylists at certain salons.

Whichever way the ball bounces here, no scissors are approaching this head until I’ve gotten a good gander at previous tresses they’ve snipped.

Has anyone else ever been the recipient of a botched haircut?

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