How Much Should You Tip Your Hairdresser?
If you've decided to finally go for it and dye your hair that trendy fall golden caramel, or you've settled on bangs as your new "lewk," you're probably booking that hair appointment as you read this. (Unless you're a master at DIY 'dos.)
But there's one thing that can take you from cut-and-blow-out bliss to anxious, and it's figuring out exactly how much to tip your hairdresser at the end of your service. You certainly don't want to be stingy, but you've also already shelled out $200 on that fancy balayage. Do you really need to spend an extra $40?
"There is no 'tipping law' whatsoever, tipping is never expected, yet always appreciated," said Riawna Capri, owner of Hollywood's Nine Zero One salon. "Tipping your hairstylist is the same as tipping anyone else in the service industry."
But just in-case you'd like a bit more of a straightforward guide to the unofficial rules of tipping your stylist, to take the guesswork out of it, we talked to industry experts to make everything a bit more clear cut (pun intended).
First: Do you have to tip when you get that cut and color?
While Nunzio Saviano, owner of his namesake New York City-based salon, points out that a long-term relationship with a client usually results in a tip, it's still not something he expects from all of his customers. Even after 30 years in the business, there are times when he isn't given a little extra something on the side—which he understands.
"A stylist would appreciate anything," he says. "They'd rather have you in the chair than not."
When you spend $100 on highlights, how much is expected?
"The industry standard for gratuity is within the range of 18 percent to 22 percent for excellent service," says director of salon operations at Devachan Salon, Rebecca Matthews. She also points out that the percentage doesn't change based on the service (say, a haircut versus a color or highlights).
Saviano agrees, suggesting that you start at 20 percent, while Miko Branch—CEO of Miss Jessie's haircare products and salon—says that it's totally okay to start lower at 15 percent. Basically, it's all up to your personal budget and satisfaction with your hair.
To break it down, let's say you meet in the middle and tip 20 percent. That means that if you pay $100 for highlights, you'd give $20. And a $40 cut? An $8 tip. Anything more or less depends on how you feel about the end-result, or your comfort-level with the hairdresser.
What if you don't like how your haircut turned out?
First, experts urge you to always remember that it's your money you're spending. If the results of a salon trip leave you less than pleased, it's warranted to hold back on the extra cash. "Tipping shows gratitude to those who have served you well, but it's not a requirement," Matthews explains. "Ultimately, stylists recognize that tips are extended out of gratitude for great service and would not want to accept a tip if you were not pleased."
If you're wary of burning a bridge with your favorite stylist, she advises that communication is key. Give them a chance to redeem the experience by explaining why you're unhappy. If the adjustment, which is typically complimentary, still isn't up-to-par, it's your prerogative not to extend a tip.
"They will not take it personal. No reputable stylist will want you to leave their chair unsatisfied, and should make every accommodation to find a solution," she says.
Is your hair type a factor?
Double-check pre-set prices if they are available, because as Matthews explains, the texture or length of hair (and the additional associated costs) may already be reflected in the initial value of service. "When it is not, clients frequently tip on the higher end of the range," she says.
What about salon apprentices?
It can be tricky to figure out whether to tip the person who washes your hair or the assistant who sets your rollers. Does your stylist pool their tips?
Both Matthews and Saviano believe that the helpers for sure deserve their own monetary acknowledgement for their hard work. Despite there not being a set value applied to their services, anything between $5 to $20 is typical.
"You might tip on the higher end—greater than $10—when your apprentice has spent a significant amount of time servicing you: severe detangling, applying treatments, styling and diffusing," Matthews says. "Some stylists prefer to finish and style their client’s hair themselves and the apprentice may be minimally involved in your service. This would be a situation where you may want to tip on the lower end—$5."
Should the shop owner get anything?
Nunzio says that clients often overlook the person in charge, but it's appreciated when customers recognize the effort put in to keep everything at its best. "Twenty percent for the owner is a nice gesture, but it's not mandatory," he says.
What about tipping your hairdresser at Christmas?
Again, adding a little extra to your typical tip is not expected come holiday season. Hair stylists totally understand the stressors that come with Christmas, so don't feel the pressure to add a little more if you'd prefer not to. But if you're personally in the spirit of giving this season, it doesn't hurt to show it—and how much is up to your discretion.
"During the holidays I personally like to tip my favorite barista a little extra, as well as, my favorite sushi chef, dog groomer, gardner, etc," Capri says. "I'm lucky enough to get tipped during the holidays, so I like to pay it forward."
Branch agreed, adding: "Tipping your hairstylist a little more or tipping 'big' is definitely a standout and is so appreciated by your hairstylist during the holidays. It's bound to get you favor and in the chair during the busy seasons and of course, extra special detail to services given the appreciation you have demonstrated to your beloved stylist."
Still a little confused?
Look for a second opinion. "I’d recommend always asking for front desk advice when in doubt," Matthews says. "It can be intimidating to broach the subject, but if you're feeling awkward, you can start with a phone call while you're confirming your appointment.
View the original story on OprahMag.com: How Much Should You Tip Your Hairdresser?.