Cheap hack or destined disaster: should you risk a free haircut?


Julian Ahluwalia’s guide will allow you to access London’s free haircut.


A question that has popped into many a student’s mind, when their hair is growing long but their money is running short, is whether to risk a free haircut. You might have seen posters plastered around campus advertising free male haircuts and shaves at the London School of Barbering, based in Covent Garden.

Yet, for many, the fear of having some inexperienced hairdresser leaving you resembling a Van Gogh lookalike is too great a worry to even contemplate trying. I went and got the low-down from friends who have frequented the Drury Lane establishment numerous times and thus consider themselves experts on navigating the world of the free haircut and shave.

 London School of Barbering: “a gleaming and pristine space”.

Upon arrival you’ll find it located above ‘Echo Pizza’. Reaching for the buzzer sandwiched alongside several worn labels you aren’t exactly filled with confidence. However, all worries are assuaged as you walk up to the waiting room for your appointment (appointments are available online and the website is extremely easy to use). Inside, you are greeted by a gleaming and pristine space – quite the contrast to what you would expect from the building’s exterior.

Waiting for the chop isn’t so bad here.

You take a seat on the sofa before being called to one of the many chairs. They will ask you what sort of style you desire and the trainee barbers are capable of doing all haircuts and types. There are several master barbers walking around supervising, asking questions and examining the work to make sure that your coiffure comes to no harm. All haircuts need to be signed off by them and if something isn’t quite up to standard, as it was for a friend on one occasion, they’ll fix it immediately for you with no drama.

SNIP: Inside the London School of Barbering on Drury Lane.

So why not give it a go? While the haircut may take around an hour, it’s free and you’ll be helping someone improve – think of it as your good deed for the day. And even if worse does come to worst, you can always just grow it back! Let us know in the comments section below what your experiences have been like and whether you’d recommend our readers to try it out.


  1. Always had a quality cut here. It’s a lovely atmosphere and very professional. The only downside is that it does take longer than a regular haircut but these people are learning so it’s to be expected. It is free so I only say this as advice, rather than criticism.

    Depending what you want done (I get an all scissor cut) it might be best leaving an hour and a half in your schedule.

  2. there ought to be a few barbers who are registered with the Student Union (KCLSU OR ULU) who cut hair at a subsidized rate of 3 or 5 pounds for a few hours everyday. It’s true that this is much lower than the 10 or 15 pounds they normally make with a customer, however since they’re linked to uni’s. there would be no dearth of customers and it would be profitable to all parties.

  3. On a related note: you can also get free dental care with undergraduate dentists at any of the London dental schools. (KCL have a clinic for these free treatments) They are always supervised and take extra care to make sure everything goes well so treatments do last a bit longer.

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