IDK about you, but it feels like every time I'm getting ready to leave the salon after a hair cut or color appointment, panic and confusion sets in. I start to ask myself: How much should I tip my hairdresser? How much should I tip my colorist? Do I tip the salon owner? What about the person who did my shampoo? Did I bring cash? Help!!!
If you also ask yourself those questions when you're wrapping up at the hair salon, you're in the right place. To clear things up once and for all, I turned to Leigh Hardges, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, for a hairstylist’s perspective on how much to tip hairdressers.
Ahead, the ultimate guide to hair salon gratuity and tipping etiquette, whether you're getting a whole head of highlights, a bang trim, or any other type of hair service. Read it before your next appointment I promise you won't be sweating it out and trying to figure out the math at checkout.
Why do we tip hairdressers?
Think about it—your hairstylist does sooo much more for you than just cut, color, or style your hair. They go out of their way to make you comfortable, sanitize the station (something that's especially impt at the hair salon during COVID), maybe even offer you a water or coffee, and depending on how long the service lasts, your small talk could turn into a full-on therapy session. Tipping your hairdresser is a way to show how much you appreciate their services but also the relationship and their time. And who knows, it might even make your stylist more willing to work with you if you ever need a hair favor down the road.
Similar to servers and workers in the restaurant industry, a lot of stylists and colorists make the majority of their living off of tips and not a low hourly wage, so it's important to keep that in mind when booking your appointment too.
How much do you tip for a haircut or hair color service?
First things first, tips are a hundred percent up to your own discretion. While tips are absolutely encouraged, they aren’t exactly mandatory. That said, Hardges says that the general rule of thumb when it comes to tipping your hairdresser is at least 20 percent if you're pleased with all aspects of your service—whether you got a major haircut, a basic trim, or a blowout. That means if your haircut cost $60, your tip should probably be $12 or more. If your hair color is $100? A $20 tip is standard. And remember: Salon assistants (rather than your actual hairstylist) usually shampoo and condition your hair, so ask the receptionist how tips are divided to make sure the assistants are getting a cut. If they’re not, Hardges says it’s common to tip them $5 to $10, depending on your service.
When it comes to hair color, though, it’s always nice to keep in mind how many hours you spent at the salon. Hardges says, generally, salons will charge accordingly if it's a longer service, so the 20 percent rule should suffice. But IMO, if your hairstylist is spending more than three hours adding highlights, bleaching your strands, or dyeing your hair, you should consider tipping closer to 22 or 25 percent—especially if you love the end result.
And although 20 percent is generally a good guideline, you might consider tipping a bit more if you’re a client that can be a little—for lack of a better word—needy. Hardges says if you know you can be particularly difficult, are constantly running late, ask to get squeezed in, or rescheduled your appointment within 24 hours of the original time, it’s recommended to tip slightly more for the inconveniences when your stylist accommodates you.
Do I tip my hairdresser in cash?
You don't have to, but not all salons accept credit/debit cards for gratuity, so it’s always smart to stop at the ATM before your appointment (0r call ahead and ask). I can’t even count the number of times I’ve forgotten cash and had to make an extra trip back to the salon to pay my stylist—it’s not fun, y’all. If you're tipping with cash, either hand your $$ directly to your hairdresser or write their name on one of those tiny envelopes at the front desk and drop it in there. Also an option (especially during COVID times): Tipping your stylist via Venmo or PayPal.
Do you tip when they fix your hair?
The whole idea of tipping based on inconvenience works both ways. If you as the client have to go out of your way and back to the salon to fix something that should have been done during the original appointment, Hardges says tipping isn’t necessary. “When I am fixing a mistake I made, I don't expect a tip and will in most cases refuse the tip,” Hardges says.
Should you tip for a free bang trim?
Ah, the age-old debate: How much do you tip your hairstylist for free (or quick!) services like a bang trim? As with any tip, there’s no set rule—but it’s always good to remember that even though your service might have taken your stylist 10 minutes, that’s still 10 minutes out of their schedule, so tipping $5 to $10 is always a nice gesture.
Wait—do you tip hair salon owners too?
Again, it’s totally up to you, but if you are super jazzed about your haircut/color and really loved the salon experience, it never hurts to throw in an extra tip for the salon owner. And, yes, if the salon owner was also your hairstylist, they should still be tipped at least 20 percent (just because they’re the owner doesn’t mean they don’t deserve and won’t appreciate a tip for their services).
Should I give my hairdresser a holiday tip?
You can probs guess my answer (are you sensing a theme here?!), but again, there’s no right or wrong way to tip your hairdresser for the holidays. If, for example, you see your hairstylist every single month, it’s a super-nice gesture to throw them an extra tip—say, 30 percent instead of 20 percent—for the holidays (kinda like a lil' thank-you for an entire year’s worth of services). Stylists don’t expect or require this, obvi, but it never hurts to throw a little extra love (and $$$) their way during the holidays—or, TBH, whenever you can. If you don't feel comfortable giving your stylist extra $$ for the holidays, treating them to a skincare or makeup gift set—like the ones below—is a sweet gesture too.
Even though tipping is completely personal, it doesn’t have to be weird or awkward. General rule: Tip your hairdresser 20 percent, but if you can/want to go higher, by all means, do. Just remember that no one is expecting anything—how you tip is up to you and your relationship with the stylist.
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