Hair Salon Etiquette 101

Going to the salon is a bit like going on a date- you want to give a good first impression, properly portray your own style and personality, develop an open and trusting relationship with your stylist, and always end on a good note. One of the most essential components of a satisfying visit to the salon is knowing how to act appropriately. We’ve got the scoop on the do’s and dont’s of salon manners to ensure that you are salon savvy enough to score a second date with your stylist… and a third date… and a fourth date…

First and foremost, arriving on time is key. Most salons appreciate customers arriving 15 minutes prior to their scheduled appointment, allowing time for you to check in and get comfortable. If you do find yourself running late for an appointment, give the salon a call and let them know. And if your salon has a cancellation policy, be sure to respect it. Communication is key, from the moment you set up your appointment to the moment you walk out the door after your visit. The easiest way to ensure that you and your stylist are on the same page with the plan for your hair is to give them plenty of visual and verbal cues. Bring them a picture or two of the look you’d like, and dress in a way that complements the style you’re going for. Take your time describing it to your stylist, and use precise language, such as specific lengths, rather than vague terms such as “short”.

Do I have to talk to my stylist while my hair is being done? What if I don’t want to?

While many people enjoy chatting and catching up while having their hair styled, others would rather savor the moment in silence and enjoy some R&R time. Whichever you prefer is fine. If you like to talk, go ahead and start up a conversation! If you’de rather be left alone to your thoughts, immediately mention to your stylist what a long day you’ve had, and how you’re looking forward to some peace and quiet while being pampered at the salon. And regardless of conversation, always be sure to check with your stylist prior to using your cell phone or reading, as these can sometimes be distracting to other clients, or hinder your stylists ability to properly communicate with you. Above all, never eat or chew gum while in the salon, as doing so can pose serious problems to an even cut.

Who do I tip? How much do I tip them?

If you are happy with the service you receive, it is usually appropriate to tip your primary stylist 15-20 percent. While it is not necessary to tip the salon owner, you should offer a small tip (5-10 percent) to any other person who works on your hair that day (shampoo-ists, assistants, color aids, etc). Be sure to check your salon’s tipping policy prior to your visit, however, as every salon’s expectations and practices are unique.

What if I hate my cut?

If you are unhappy with your new ‘do, politely explain your dissatisfaction to your stylist. While you do not want to have a fit and rudely scream at them, you also do not want to be afraid to step up and tell them that you are not happy. As long as you convey your discontent in a timely manner (either while you are still at your appointment, or within a day or two), stylists are generally willing to book a free correction appointment with you. Again, however, every salon is different, so read up on your salon’s policies beforehand. Mistakes are often rooted in a miscommunication between client and stylist, so be sure to avoid falling victim to imprecise descriptions or a lack of communication.

What if I’ve “cheated”?

If you’ve “cheated” on your stylist by visiting another salon or having work done on your hair elsewhere, fess up! Regardless of what you have done, you are back in your stylists chair, so they can feel reassured that they are doing something right. The best hair care is the result of a stylist who truly knows your hair and its history. If you’ve had a treatment done elsewhere, especially a chemical one, and your stylist is unaware, it could cause an adverse reaction. So rather than leave them guessing or wondering what they did wrong, be up front from the start… after all, visiting another salon is not a crime.

Can I haggle prices?

While you will overhear clients attempting to wrestle with the receptionist in a fierce price battle from time to time, this haggling behavior is generally inappropriate at a salon. If you are worried about your wallet, carefully consult your salon’s prices ahead of time, and chose one that is in line with your budget. If you do have a question over pricing, be sure to have that conversation with a manager, not merely your stylist or the first face you see when you walk in the door. Additionally, familiarize yourself with acceptable forms of payment ahead of time to avoid embarrassing scenes at the register. Remember, not every salon accepts American Express.

Have any other hairy situations you don’t know how to deal with? Hairstyles Weekly is here to help! Leave us a comment below and let us know, we will be sure to get back to you! Above all, remember that having your hair done should leave you feeling beautiful, not stressed and ready to pull your hair out!

More From Tips & Advice
What's New