There’s nothing like showing off a brand-new haircut. After the trim and style, you feel good about yourself. You feel clean and fresh. You love checking yourself out in the mirror and imagine it’s what rock stars must feel like. So, when you’re done with your hair cut and style, collect your belongings and head to the counter, don’t be so distracted with your new “do” that you forget to take care of business. Those cute hairstyles are worth the pay. Part of that business is paying your bill and telling the cashier just how much to tip a hairdresser.
After all, you tip food service people, and hair cutting is another service industry, right?
The workers at the local deli have a tip jar set out, so if you offer a tip, how do you know how much is customary? Do you tack on an extra 20 percent to your bill like you would at a restaurant for delivery? Or do you toss a few bucks their way because you’re guessing they work for more near minimum wage?
When it comes to tipping a hairdresser there are several considerations that factor into how much you should give. These variables range anywhere from the stylist’s location, whether the salon allows you to tip and if you’re supposed to tip the assistants, too.
By knowing how much to tip a hairdresser you’ll keep them happy and you can build a habit of showing your appreciation for consistently good cuts.
So, before you make your next haircut or style appointment, make sure you read through these tips and suggestions on how much you should tip.
How Much Hairdressers Work for the Job
A hairdresser is someone who professionally cuts your hair. He or she has gone to cosmetology school to learn proper techniques in caring for your hair, and he or she has also earned their license from the state.
If he/she is not officially licensed, then he/she is not allowed to work at a hair salon. So, while mothers everywhere continue to cut the hair of their children, they are not allowed to open their own salon studios because they do not meet the industry standards.
Cosmetology school, depending on the courses taken, requires about a year to finish. That said, individuals who receive their license must continually maintain their state’s requirements, meaning they have to complete a certain number of continuing education unit hours through occasional courses. CEU classes are designed to provide individuals with education on new products and methods for cutting hair.
Stylists can also go to school for additional certifications, which may include everything from styling with certain products to hair coloring. Individuals with added certifications will “level up” at a salon. This is more common at larger chain salons or salons that backed by certain product lines, such as Aveda or Paul Mitchell.
The next time you look at booking a stylist at such a salon you may notice they are different levels of stylists listed. You’ll also notice those with a higher level will cost more when you use them. This is not necessarily because they have been cutting hair longer. It’s because they have accomplished additional schooling and have added certifications.
It’s like when you employ an auto mechanic. There is a basic mechanic who can work on your car. However, there are different levels of certifications, and an expert-level mechanic will have a series of certifications under their name. These mechanics are more desirable due to their educations. The experts’ additional certifications are proof that they know more.
However, when it comes to how much to tip a hairdresser there are other variables you also need to consider.
How Much to Tip a Hairdresser
When heading out to your haircut, you need to arrive on time. This is not a situation where a stylist can openly bump clients down to a different time slot. Showing up late has the potential of disrupting the rest of his or her day. To discourage such behavior, most stylists consider clients who show up more than 15 minutes past a scheduled haircut to be too late for their appointment and, therefore, it is just best for all concerned to reschedule.
If you show up late, then there’s a chance the stylist can still see you. It will depend on if they are familiar with your preference of cut and know it will not take long or, possibly, if they have an open window after your appointment that will allow them to absorb your lateness. If your hairdresser makes an exception and still takes you on even if you are too late, then you really should add something extra to her tip.
After all, they are paying to rent out their chair. If you are late and they have to bump someone else, that might cost them money. Time really is money for hairdressers. So, if your stylist still takes you on, then you should reward him/her to show how much you appreciate the accommodation.
How Much to Tip a Hairdresser?
It’s difficult to ask a hairdresser how much you should tip them. It’s a straight-forward question, but it’s also a double-edged question for the hairdresser.
They can tell you what the average is, but naturally, they will hope you tip based on your experience and not what everyone else does. It is like going to a restaurant. You might typically tip 20 percent, but if the service is better than normal, you might increase your tip. If the service is terrible, you might lessen your tip. In most instances though, the average tip is 20 percent.
Is Tipping Acceptable?
Before putting much thought into how much to tip a hairdresser, you need to know if the location even accepts tips. There are some hair salons where tipping isn’t an option. For example, there are several Aveda chain salons that do not accept tipping of their stylists. They want to maintain quality hairdressers, so they pay the stylists accordingly.
With the higher level pay they might charge more for the haircut, but for the cut you may often receive additional services built-in (such as a hand massage or a shoe shine) all without the need to tip.
It is best to check with the salon to see what its policy is regarding the tipping of its employees. Most salons that do not accept tipping will state this on their websites, but the front receptionist should be able to inform you, as well. When you go to pay, if there isn’t a slot for a gratuity, then you probably won’t need to worry about the tip, but ask just in case.
It is great for you to consider how much to tip a hairdresser, but what happens if there are additional assistants at the salon? In some salons you’ll have someone who comes by and offers a hand massage while you’re receiving your cut. There might be other assistants there to help with coloring your hair or who might offer other services while you are in the stylist’s chair. In these instances, it is important to not just know how much to tip a hairdresser, but also if (and how much) you’re supposed to tip these assistants.
Again, it helps to compare such a scenario to a restaurant. In a restaurant setting, it is the server who receives the tips. However, often the receptionist, the bus boy, the runner who brings out the food and the kitchen staff all go without tips. Yes, there are locations that might tip out at the end of the night, but more frequently these other individuals do not receive a tip, even though they put in just as much, if not more, work behind the scenes.
A hair salon is different in this respect. Are you supposed to tip assistants? The short answer is “yes.”
Tipping Assistants Varies
Assistants may go unnoticed, but it’s important to let them know you appreciate their work, too. These individuals might wash and shampoo your hair before the stylist comes to see you. They might offer other services while you’re waiting — especially if you’re seeing a popular stylist. In these instances, you need to tip them.
The amount you tip assistants should be the base for the amount you give as a tip on your final bill. Naturally, you will not tip them more than what you’d tip the stylist, but give them something. For assistants, depending on what they do for you, you might tip them $5 or $10.
For high-end salons where you’re paying several hundred dollars for a haircut, you might tip them $40 for splitting between the assistants. Just keep in mind they are working hard too, often for a fraction of what the stylist makes.
The next time you go to the hair salon, it is important to know how much to tip a hairdresser. Many of these individuals have put in considerable time in school and continue to push themselves so they can give you the best style possible. By tipping them (and their assistants) you are showing them you are happy with the services you received. If you like your hairdresser’s performance, tip them around 20 percent. If they’ve accommodated your tardiness or gone the extra mile, give them more. And, for any assistants who also help your hair cut or style, be sure to give them $5 or $10, as well.
Natalie is a writer and editor at Hair Motive. She is an English Literature graduate who is now pursuing a career as a writer and marketer. When she is not writing for our readers, Natalie helps her clients improve their visibility through social media management and content creation. Some of Natalie’s hobbies include running, playing the piano, and watching classic movies.