Fantastic Sam’s: A Review and a Giveaway

Years and years ago, like six kids ago, I used to get my hair done at a very froofy salon in Santa Barbara. Back then I paid about $45 every six weeks or so to get coiffed and primped. We lived in an affluent community and we were dinks, so why not?

Then we moved to one income, and FishPapa and I realized that we probably didn’t need to spend our money on expensive beauty services. I started cutting his hair myself. I still got to go to a salon, but it was definitely a less froofy establishment. But, I really haven’t missed it. Well, at least not too much.

In fact, over the years SuperCuts and I have become good friends. And Great Clips has filled the bill when SuperCuts couldn’t. Recently, however, I was given the opportunity to try out Fantastic Sam’s.

Like SuperCuts and Great Clips, Fantastic Sam’s is a walk-in salon. You don’t need to have an appointment in order to have your hair cut or styled. Last week I was desperately due for a trim. It had been several months since I’d been in and I was feeling the frump. My big boys were, too. Not the frump necessarily, but we couldn’t see the whites of their eyes anymore, their hair was so long.

In the past I’ve always cut my kids’ hair. But, FishBoy12 is growing in independence and was really not liking his mama to orchestrate his grooming. Broaching the topic of a hair cut has not been the most fun. So, since I was going to go to the salon anyway, FishPapa suggested that I take the boys. Maybe FishBoy12 wouldn’t buck a stranger’s influence as much as he does mine. FishBoy9 came along, too.

But, I have to tell you, I wasn’t looking forward to paying for their hair cuts. And I was a little tempted to lie about FishBoy’s age when I found out 12 year-olds count as adults. But I didn’t!

In my area, an adult cut is $18 and a child’s cut is $15. This is a little higher priced than the base services at the competitors. However, a shampoo is included in the base services whereas it is an extra charge at Great Clips and SuperCuts. This turned out to be a good thing. Unbeknownst to me, one of my boys was not able to get all the shampoo rinsed out of his hair well. He had a build-up of shampoo on his scalp that was liable to cause him a great amount of discomfort. The hair stylist was observant about this. She showed me what was going on, washed his hair with a clarifying shampoo to break down the build-up, and gave him a good scrubbing, too. I was very thankful for her attention to detail as there would have been no way for me to know this, especially as we’re experiencing “grooming challenges” in the tween years.

Both boys like to wear their hair longer. However, all I know to do is a bowl cut, so I figured a trip to the salon might be a good thing for their fashion sense. Turns out the stylist didn’t even know how to do a bowl cut! Guess I am really behind the times…. Instead, she gave them updated cuts that a lot of the boys are sporting these days. We can see their handsome faces, and they are both happy with their haircuts.

As for me, I got a new ‘do, too. Every once in awhile I get bored of long hair and have it chopped. This was the time. I had searched the internet for styles that I liked. The stylist who worked with me listened carefully to my hair issues (cowlick, extra thick locks, etc.) She helped me find something that “would do something” for me and gave me instructions as to how to style it and retrain that pesky cowlick. It is a layered bob with a sidebang, in case you’re wondering. It’s a great “wash and go” style and I’m quite pleased with it.

Overall, we had a great experience. While my haircut was complimentary, I did spend $33 + tip on the boys. I am not sure if we will make this a regular expense for our family. The jury is still out on that one. I’ll tell you next time they get shaggy.

But, I was quite impressed with the service we received. The salon was not the fanciest, but it was clean and well-designed. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable. And as first time customers we were given welcome packets that contained money-saving coupons for future visits. You know me and coupons, that would certainly bode well for a return visit. How ’bout you? Where do you get your ‘do?

Check out Fantastic Sam’s website to find a location near you and be a fan on Facebook to get the lastest news.

Want to give Fantastic Sam’s a try? I have a $25 gift certificate to give away this week. 

There are three ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment about your experiences with walk-in salons.
2. Follow me on twitter and leave a 2nd comment telling me that you did.
3. Subscribe to LifeasMOM in a reader and leave a 3rd comment, telling me you did so.

Giveaway is open until Sunday, December 6 at 8 pm, PST.

Disclosure: I received a gift certificate for Fantastic Sam’s so that I could review their services and share my opinions with my readers. My opinions are my own and are not influenced by a complimentary haircut. C’mon!

Encouraged by what you’ve read? Subscribe to LifeasMOM by email or in a reader and join me on the Road to Joyful Motherhood.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The first time I went to a walkin for a haircut, I thought they washed your hair. I did not wash my hair that day…she just sprayed my hair with water.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your hair looks great! I learned to cut my kids and husband hair through trial and error, so thankfully I am the only one that goes to get my hair done, though not as much as I should. As far as walk-ins, they have been nightmares, so this would be something new to try.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I just subscribed.

  4. Your boys' haircuts look great!

    My 14-year-old son and I have some great horror stories about two walk-in salons that we USED to frequent. He saved face after one bad haircut by joking with friends that he went to Sweeney Todd for his haircut. Another time, the stylist was a mom like me, and when she was done butchering my son, I couldn't hold my tongue. I asked her to look at my son's hair and tell me…honestly…if her son would be seen in public like that. She blinked back tears and agreed that it was horrible. They fixed him up (as best as they could), and I must say that is definitely not the preferred route to a free haircut!

  5. I've never tried a walk-in salon for me – but I haven't had great experience with more expensive places either. I'm willing to give it a try! Your cut looks great, by the way.

  6. Katie @ goodLife {eats} says:

    I don't think we have Fantastic Sam's so don't enter me for the giveaway, but I just had to say how cute your hair looks!!

  7. says:

    Your cut looks good…Well one my experiences in a salon was horrific…Im a olive tone skin color and got highlights…but it was more bleached my hair it was awful and also that same hairstylist did short bangs..oh my gosh…I cried…they did fix my hair..but it was dry….and ugly

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ive never had good luck with walk in salons. My hair never comes out the way I want it to.

    dnalandeck at hotmail dot com

  9. Anonymous says:

    I've started using walk-ins. My favorite was a borics that closed. Now my husband and I are going to great clips, which is working well. I get my hair cut VERY short and color my own once a month with color I've gotten with coupons. I used to go to fancy salons but not any more.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have never had any problems at one- but I find that I cut my hair just as well as they do! Gasp. It just takes a little work and I save a ton of money! scg00387 at yahoo dot com

  11. Anonymous says:

    @desmoinesdealin I follow you on twitter scg00387 at yahoo dot com

  12. Anonymous says:

    we love Fantastic Sams…my oldest son wants his hair cut evry 4 weeks at the price of $13.50 a cut and he gets free shampoo included..we r excited this month because they got coupon in mail flyer for same cut $9.95..he is very picky teenager and says Fantastic Sams is the best cut in town

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am # 68 who loves Fantastic Sams..forgot my email… babyem2008 @ yahoo dot com

  14. We use walk ins for the boys often. Our experience has always been positive and kid friendly

  15. I LIKE IT!!!

    I use to use Fantastic Sams & BoRics where I use to live; now I have a friend cut & I pay with a dinner (:

  16. TopazTook says:

    Our whole family usually gets our hair cut at Fantastic Sam's. I did Great Clips for a while, but was never happy with the service. Then I did a fancy mall salon for a while, which was nicely pampering — but bad for the budget. And then a Fantastic Sam's opened nearby, and they will cut the hair of everyone in the family, there is no need to make an appointment ( a huge boon for us), and ours has a "kid's station" where they set up a TV with videos for our little one to watch — and stay nicely quiet and cooperative (usually) while she's getting trimmed.

  17. TopazTook says:

    I subscribe through bloglines.

  18. rankin1997 says:

    I have taken my daughters there and have been happy with it. They both have long hair, so we only go 1-2 times a year. I have not been brave enought to try places like that, I am too picky with my hair.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I have never tried it and I am subscribed to you. I like your cut, but think it would look better longer.

  20. SavannahsSmiles says:

    In general, I have had terrible experiences at walk-in salons. They always cut too much. But, you look wonderful!

  21. SavannahsSmiles says:

    i subscribe 🙂

  22. once i tried to take my toddler son to a walk-in place. he walked back out to the lobby area, sat down, picked up a newspaper, and pretended to read, refusing the haircut. seriously.
    joliecripps at gmail dot com

  23. i read you in google reader
    joliecripps at gmail dot com

  24. I would love to win this! I have had one very bad experience…it happened years ago. I went in to have them cut my hair, then color it auburn. Let's just say I left crying, with Ronald McDonald red hair. 🙁 But anyways, right now I have a family member who used to do hair cut it, so going somewhere for a cut would be a lovely treat. :0)


  25. Love the new haircut! Very cute! My experience with walk-in salons is 50/50. Half the time I like my cut, the rest of the time I don't. I can't justify spending a ton of money to go somewhere else though. I just walk in with my fingers crossed hoping my experience will be a good one.
    Would love to win! Thanks!
    I LOVE your blog, by the way. You are one ambitious and inspiring lady! 🙂

  26. I've never had too much trouble with walk-ins. I couple of really great lower-scale ones I've been to did a really great job with my toddlers, too.


  27. I follow on Twitter!


  28. I subscribe in googleReader. Wahoo!


  29. Anonymous says:

    My father uses fantatsic sams and loves it. This is much needed since he recently lost his job.

  30. I LOVE your new do! The side part looks great on you.

    I normally cut my hubby's hair and I go to a local salon for my hair cuts ($20 + tip) every 7 weeks.


  31. Dawn and Brian says:

    Cute haircut! 🙂

    I had a bad experience with a walk-in salon in high school, so I haven't been willing to walk back into one since. (I went in for a trim and ended up walking out with 6 inches cut off.) However, now that my husband and I are on a single income I'm thinking that I may need to give a place like Fantastic Sam's another chance…


  32. I love the haircut! I have a new baby and have a difficult time getting out to get a haircut. I usually pay $60 for a haircut, so I am definitely interested in trying Fantastic Sams! Thank you for the giveaway! ckellyo at

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