Hair Salon Etiquette: Tipping 101

You love your stylist. They know exactly what works for your hair. They introduced you to your favorite product. And they’re the person you turn to when you’re looking to get a little spring back in your step after a case of feeling drab.

But then comes the end of the appointment. No one really loves talking money, and when it comes to tipping, not everyone is sure of the standard salon etiquette.

To answer some of the most common salon tipping questions, we went to this trusty group of stylists, salon managers, and owners to get the scoop on what’s typical etiquette: Renee Summa, owner of Dyehard Beauty Studio; Lindsay Atwell, salon manager of G. Michael Salon; Will Turpin, stylist at Emmitt’s the Studio; April Wright, stylist at Something New at Tiffany’s.

Here’s what they had to say:

1) What is an appropriate tip percentage range? Does it vary by type of service?

Almost all cited a 15%-20% range as most typical. Turpin mentioned he’s seen some tip a little more for color services, though Atwell said varying tipping amount by service is not customary. In addition, Atwell said a basic consultation where no service is actually performed does not require a tip.

What about those services that aren’t quite fantastic? “If you had an “okay” experience, it’s nice to tip 10% but please also politely express during your service if anything is amiss,” said Summa. “Stylists can only grow if they receive constructive feedback as to why you weren’t extremely satisfied with their service.”

Overall, though, most pointed to the fact that tipping is a nice practice though fully at the discretion of what the client is comfortable with paying.

“I leave it up to the client, and I’m thankful for whatever they can leave. It definitely shows they appreciate the time I devoted to them and are pleased with their service,” said Wright.

2) Is it better to give a cash tip or include it on a credit card transaction?

“I think we all love and appreciate cash tips–some salons require that clients leave tips for stylists in cash–[but] it really is whatever the client is more comfortable with,” said Turpin.

All mirrored the sentiment that customer convenience is key and they’re grateful for tips however they come. Atwell, though, did point out that it’s sometimes tough on salons because credit card companies take a portion of the total charge–tip included–when processing. That being said, there’s never a requirement to do one as opposed to another at her salon.

3) What is tipping protocol if multiple individuals work on your hair during one appointment?

While Atwell said this type of situation is a rarity at G. Michael Salon, some clients do prefer one stylist for color and one for a cut. In those situations, “we would recommend tipping both stylists for their individual time spent,” she said.

Some stylists also take it upon themselves to share the tip. “If two people are offering a service to one client, typically I split it in half. It took group effort to accomplish the look, and my partner deserves half,” explained Wright.

Some people aren’t sure if it’s appropriate to tip a salon owner. Why is that still a good idea?

“It’s good to still tip the salon owner because she/he is utilizing his or her skills and experience to give you the excellent experience, cut, and/or color and that’s why you’re visiting them!” said Summa. “This is the same reason you would visit any other stylist. The salon owner puts their all into their business, often times so much more time than any of the stylists, and that is reason to still top your salon owner stylist.”

Atwell agrees, pointing out that many owners of salons where stylists are commissioned pay for the products and other important expenses like rent, payroll and payroll taxes. “These costs as well as a laundry list of others…really add up for the salon owner, and because of this, tipping the salon owner is not only appreciated, but practical,” she said. “In other words, if you would normally tip your stylist, you should definitely include your salon owner in that practice.”

In the end, every salon and stylist is different. But one thing’s for sure: offering them a tip at the end of a great service is the polite and right thing to do. Your stylist works hard. Be sure to show them your gratitude!

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