How Much to Tip Your Hairdresser?

Do you have an upcoming hair appointment? Check out this guide to finding out how much you should tip your stylist and the assistant stylists-and how much you should give during the holidays.

Do you want caramel balayage highlights or a major bang chop? It’s easy as pie. How much should you tip your hairdresser for creating that new look? That’s not the case. Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert and owner of Access to Culture, says tipping is innately discretionary. Tipping is a confusing aspect of culture because there is no set amount to follow. However, most experts agree that tipping your hairdresser is an important show of appreciation (the same goes for tipping at the nail salon.)

Besides helping build a long-term relationship with your hairdresser, tipping well helps you to get your hairdresser to squeeze you into a busy schedule at the last minute, recommend the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type, or even share the latest hair color trends (and make sure the one you love is actually the best hair color for you) or the best haircut for your face shape. According to Aida Mulic, owner of Envision 1111 Salon in Lynnwood, Washington, “Hairdressing is an art.”. “You’re paying for your hairdresser’s artistic talent as well as the service.”

Additionally, stylists rely on this extra income to make ends meet. Kyle Miller, a master stylist at Day Salon in Newburgh, Indiana, explains, “We’re in a service-based industry, so tips are not just appreciated, but also essential to income.

But how much is enough-and how much is not enough? To help you determine an actual gratuity and navigate gray areas where a gratuity isn’t so clear cut, we asked pros to spill the tea.

How much should you tip your hairdresser?

Regardless of whether you’re in for a quick trim, a major chop, or a three-hour coloring session, a reasonable tip range is 15 to 25 percent (low end if you’re not thrilled; high end if you’re thrilled). “I view tipping as a way to reward a service, just like tipping at a restaurant. You’re paying for the food, then tipping for the person who brought it to you,” Mulic says. You pay for the time, the products, the training, and then tip for the level of experience and service you receive at a salon.”

In addition, Mulic reminds you to tip only on the price of the service itself, not on any products you purchase at the salon, like a shampoo your stylist recommends for your curly hair.

Four people worked on your hair. Do you tip them all?

This is where things get confusing. You’ll often find an assistant handing over highlight foils, another apprentice shampooing your hair, and sometimes even a fourth person handling the blowout in larger salons. Tiffany Molina Pachl, a Joico guest artist, admits that this can be a tricky one. It varies from salon to salon, so I wouldn’t hesitate to ask the receptionist or your stylist about the policy. Stylists sometimes divide their tips with assistants according to an agreement. In other salons, assistants may be paid on commission, or they may be earning credit hours, and the salon tips them differently.”

Consider giving each of them a $5 bill as a token of your appreciation. Leticia McKay-Everett, a hairdresser in Dayton, Ohio, says she loves tipping the stylist’s assistant. Their job is thankless most of the time, and they are the hardest workers. Tipping them will remind them of their importance.”

Should you tip if you’re using a gift certificate?

Let’s say you receive a gift certificate to a salon from a loved one. Although the service has already been paid for, should you still tip your hairdresser? Devin Toth, a hairstylist at Salon SCK in New York City, says tipping is still nice even if you’re using a gift certificate. If you’re not sure if that’s allowed, call the salon ahead of time and ask. Some salons will let you tip using the money on the gift card itself. By doing so, you won’t inadvertently stiff your hairdresser.

Ugh. You hate your cut or color. Now what?

In the salon chair, you’re looking at your hair in the mirror and you’re not happy with it. Is it better to tip or not to tip? Even the pros have conflicting opinions on this gray area. Monica Davis, a professional hairstylist and creator of the My Straightener blog, says no, you shouldn’t reward a bad job… but you shouldn’t stay silent either. If you don’t like the result, helping a hairdresser understand where they lack proficiency is the best way to tip. It is important to be polite, however. We all make mistakes.”

Other people believe that giving a leaner tip (such as 10 percent) is kinder, even when you’re unhappy. Toth says that most clients tip even when they are unhappy with the results. “They still want to express gratitude for the hairdresser’s time and effort. It is also understood that sometimes there will be some trial and error with hair, especially with color services, and the results will improve over time as long as you work with the same hairdresser.”

Also consider whether a miscommunication led to an unsatisfactory cut or color. “Sometimes, a hair adjustment is the result of a simple misunderstanding between you and your stylist,” says Pachl. “It doesn’t necessarily mean you got a bad haircut or color.”

It’s up to you to decide how much to tip your hairdresser in this situation if you don’t like the results. Although there are arguments for and against tipping, the bottom line is that it’s up to you to decide. To get the results you want during your next hair appointment, just be polite and honest.

Do you have to tip if your stylist is also the salon owner?

Mulic says that while this used to be true, times have changed. With a tip, you’re also acknowledging the owner’s time, products used, education and training, and experience. Additionally, those extra dollars are going toward the overall operation of the business. When you go into a salon that pays commissions or hourly wages, they’re also providing the space and a lot of extra overhead to make sure the salon succeeds, says Miller. There are countless hours, sleepless nights, and financial risks that not everyone is willing to take.

These tips can be helpful if your hairdresser rents a booth and is the sole proprietor; rent and product purchases can be costly, since they aren’t bought in bulk at a discount (as large salons do).

Tipping in the time of COVID-19

We appreciated our service providers even more during the pandemic,” says McKay-Everett, who has seen a rise in tipping since COVID-19. Pachl urges you to remember that the beauty industry has taken a big hit in the past two years, from masks and disinfectants to limited capacity for clients’ safety. If you can afford it, adding a few dollars to a tip is truly appreciated when there are fewer clients in the salon.

How much should you tip your hairdresser during the holidays?

The holidays are here. This is the time to bring out your best beauty to match the season’s sparkle. Throughout the year, you have tipped your stylist. Do we need to ante up again? In a nutshell, yes. When you have an appointment over the holiday season, it’s nice to increase your usual gratuity as a gesture of appreciation. In addition to the standard 18 to 20 percent tip, Davis suggests adding another 10 to 15 percent to show your appreciation.

According to Toth, it’s entirely up to the client whether they tip differently during the holidays. Some people tip double what they normally do. There are some people who round up by fifty or by a hundred. Some people tip more than the value of the entire service.”

A small gift-like cookies, chocolate, or even a bottle of wine-is a nice gesture if you’re stopping by the salon during the month of December.

Bonus tips for tipping your hairdresser

Are you looking for a way to make your tips extra special? The following suggestions are offered by Toth:

  • Tipping can be done in a variety of ways. A tip can be left in cash, by check, by Venmo or PayPal, in person, in an envelope (or a handwritten card), or simply left at the front desk for the hairdresser to pick up.
  • Tipping can be as fun and personal as you like. On their tip envelopes, some people leave cute messages or inside jokes, or even draw funny doodles. Toth has a client who always tips with $2 bills.
  • Think outside the box for an extra-thoughtful thank you besides cash. Referring new clients to your hairdresser, shouting them out on social media, writing them excellent reviews on Google and Yelp, and staying loyal are some of the best tips.

Now that you know how much to tip your hairdresser, find out how much to tip hotel housekeeping on your next vacation.

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