Here's Exactly How Much You Should Tip at the Hair Salon

Read this before your next appointment.

How Much Do You Tip a Hairstylist

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Tipping in the hair industry — any service industry really — is not only the right thing to do but also a means of helping someone survive. With COVID hitting salon businesses hard with closures and limiting clientele, hairdressers today are still reeling from the economic free fall of 2020. Tipping has never been more vital to recouping those losses.

"For service providers, the shutdowns were some of the worst," says Dell Miller, master colorist and extensions specialist at Spoke & Weal. "Like everyone else we speak to, it's been incredibly draining and we are relieved to have it somewhat in the rearview mirror. But now prices are up. Supplies are up. Cost of living is up. There is financial turbulence everywhere. Big business boomed through 2022 and now layoffs are reeling."

"Tipping is important because as a commission-based worker, 20 percent of your income can be tips," adds Taylor Carter, co-founder of East-West Salon Co in Boston. "So when someone isn’t properly tipping over time, it can really decrease your annual earnings."

So if you're wondering how much you should be tipping and whether you should be tipping the entire team, you've come to the right place. We asked Miller, Carter, and other hairstylists to break down the intricacies of tipping at the salon, and exactly who should get what.

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For Your Stylist

For starters, 20 percent of the price of any service is considered the 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. Since 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.

For Your Colorist

Just as you would tip your stylist who cuts and styles your hair, Miller says a 20 percent tip is the standard here, too, and many hairdressers may expect this. There is a lot to consider when you do tip, though, and if 20 percent doesn't feel right to you, you can try figuring out what is appropriate in different ways that feel right.

"If you are going to a premium salon with hairdressers who have invested in their profession over time and whose prices reflect this experience and expertise, choose a dollar amount that works for you," he says. "I have hair-extension guests who pay thousands of dollars for the service [and] I do not expect a 20 percent tip. Some guests love to tip and have the resources to do this — great. Some guests may have the resources but may feel more comfortable leaving a dollar amount that would be much lower than 20 percent of the service price."

On the other hand, if you're seeing a hairstylist you love who charges much less, "you may feel good leaving a higher dollar amount and disconnecting to the 20-percent standard," Miller says. "They may also be set up to rely more on tips."

Not sure where your colorist might fall? "When seeing any type of service provider, typical industry standard is your best bet," adds Carter. "If you are particularly close with your stylist, tipping on the generous side is always appreciated."

For Your Stylist's Assistant

When it comes to tipping your stylist's assistant, Michelle Lee, master designer and manager at Boston's Salon Eva Michelle, suggests between $5 to $20 depending on how much interaction you have with them. "All the assistants are 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.

That means if an assistant ends up, for instance, providing a complimentary blowout with a color service, then you’ll want to consider a heftier tip, says Paul Labrecque, celebrity stylist and founder of Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa. He says that about $20 to $30 would be pretty standard, depending on where you live.

For Your Shampoo / Conditioner Person

Miller says that while any dollar amount is good, you can even go upwards to $5 to $10 if you can afford to. He would also ask how your salon handles gratuity, as some places might pool their tips. "At Spoke & Weal, our master stylists pool a percentage of tips for the support team — as we do not want a shampoo to be incentivized by a guest tip opportunity," he says. "That doesn’t prevent guests from tipping our support individually if they prefer. We just also want to make things easy and fluid for all so the support has a dedicated pool distributed based on the percentage of hours worked."

For The Salon Owner

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, Labrecque 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.

If you scored a discount on your service, then figuring out how much to tip can be a challenge, especially since many deal sites won't list the price of the original treatment. The stylists were somewhat divided on this topic. While Lee thinks tipping 20 percent of the original price would be fine, Minardi and Fortin agree that tipping 20 percent 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," Fortin says. "That's part of the deal."

As for holiday tips, Labrecque says they are neither mandatory, nor expected: “People show their kindness and gratitude in many ways throughout the year.”

Bottom line? Just like a stellar piano solo onstage garners a standing ovation from the audience, talented hairstylists should also be awarded, with 20 percent considered the industry 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.

Updated by Audrey Noble.

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