After getting the cut and color treatment of your life at a salon, tipping your artist for a job well-done is the next obvious step, but often times the lines get blurred when deciding just how much to give and exactly who should get a tip. The situation can become downright hairy (pun intended) when there were multiple people involved.
Should you tip the person shampooing your hair as well as your stylist? How much is considered too much? And what happens if you get a discount? To clear things up once and for all, we decided to ask three pro hairstylists to tell us all about the intricacies of tipping at the salon, and exactly who should get one.
For starters, 20% of the price of any service is considered pretty standard as far as how much to tip your stylist, but you should also remember to include all of the people involved in the process. "In the salon, you should tip your hairstylist, but also the people who come with your stylist—their assistant, the person shampooing your hair, and maybe the coat check if you leave anything there," says Francois Fortin, Senior Stylist at New York City's Salon Ziba. Many salons have the option for you to leave the tip at the front desk when you pay, and that typically gets split up among each party, but if you prefer to divvy it up yourself and hand it to each person directly, you can do so. Colorist Beth Minardi suggests tipping the person who shampoos your hair anywhere from $3 to $5, and because many salons are unable to add the tip onto the final amount should you choose to pay with a card, she recommends using cash to ease the process.
When it comes to tipping your stylist's assistant, Michelle Lee, master designer and manager at Boston's Salon Eva Michelle, suggests an amount between $5 to $20 depending on how much interaction you have with them. "All the assistants are there in training to be stylists, and at many places, a lot are working at minimum wage, so anywhere from $5 to $20 is fine depending on how much they end up doing for the client, or if they have been especially gracious to you," she says. As for the myth that you aren't supposed to tip the salon owner when they're the ones giving you a cut or color treatment? Minardi, Lee, and Fortin all agree it's exactly that—a myth. "I think that's an old-school thing, and I don't really know where that came from. It's definitely not expected, but it's appreciated, and we're always grateful," Lee says. "Taking myself as a salon owner out of this, if I go somewhere and I have a really good service I'm satisfied with, I want to tip the person and let them know they're appreciated." Of course, not every salon owner is the same, so if in doubt, make sure to ask the receptionist when you're making the appointment or are paying post-service if the owner accepts tips.
Depending on where you copped your discount, figuring out how much to tip can be a challenge, especially if many sites won't list the price of the original treatment. The stylists were somewhat divided on this topic. While Lee thought tipping 20% of the original price would be fine, Minardi and Fortin agreed that tipping 20% of the discounted price is also acceptable. "That's another tricky one, but with promotions and discounts, the goal is to get them to come back for other services, so it's okay if you don't get the full tip. That's part of the deal," he says. Bottom line? Just like a stellar piano solo onstage garners a standing ovation from the audience, talent in the hair realm should also be awarded, with 20% considered the standard—though if your stylist goes above and beyond the call of duty, you can always feel free to do the same with your gratuity.