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How Much to Tip for a Haircut and More Savvy Salon Pointers

Sommer Caraway is a freelance writer and public relations specialist based in Arizona. Follow her updates on Twitter @sommerPR or check out her blog at SommerCaraway.com.

This one goes out to everyone who always wonders about how much to tip the shampooer at the salon

Y'all, tip shaming on the internet is real — and it leaves a lot of us frozen in fear that we aren't ponying up enough gratuity when we go out. But we're not just talking restaurants, here. Even when we hit the salon we're constantly worried we're not throwing enough cash our stylist's way.

While it's true that a pro stylist is less likely to post a screenshot of a bad tip on Facebook than, say, a waiter, you know they're gonna remember how much you left next time you schedule an appointment — and we don't want to mess with the person who does our hair.

Since rules for appropriate salon tipping still seem kind of ambiguous, we did a little research to see just how much we should be leaving and included some other salon etiquette.

More: How to Get Big, Messy, Voluminous Hair in 4 Easy Steps

How much should I tip my hair stylist?

The Emily Post Institute, which "serves as a 'civility barometer' in American society," suggests tipping a hairstylist 15 to 20 percent.

Hairstylist Tamara Ianos, who is an independent contractor at Innerlooks in Phoenix, Arizona, believes people should tip what they want depending on the services they receive. The more services a hairstylist offers, the more a tip is appreciated. She also draws distinction between an independent contractor and a commissioned employee (a person who rents a booth from a salon would be an independent contractor, for instance). The latter may only earn 60 to 70 percent, or even as little as 30 percent, of the salon's listed service cost. The rest goes to the salon, so tips are even more significant to these stylists.

What if there's more than one person working on my hair? How much do I tip the others?

Depending on the salon, tipping the shampoo person may or may not be necessary. Don Browne, an independent hairstylist who rents space at Café Paris in Phoenix, Arizona, confirms if a stylist's assistant shampoos your hair and she works for the salon or someone else, the stylist will typically give her a tip for helping out.

If the shampoo person works for the stylist though, it is generally acceptable for the client to tip her. Tipping.org, the original tipping page, recommends tipping $1 to $2 for a shampoo person — however, Elie Camoro, a top stylist at Frederic Fekkai, told Today that you should up the tip to $3 to $5 in bigger salons. If in doubt, ask the receptionist or client coordinator when you schedule an appointment.

Emily Post also points out that you can request that your 15 to 20 percent tip be split among those who served you.

More: Here’s Exactly How to Dry Curls for Smooth, Frizz-Free Hair

What if I don't want someone separate to shampoo/wash my hair?

Browne believes it is absolutely acceptable to request that another person not shampoo a client's hair, whatever the reason. He confirms, "The bottom line is the client pays the stylist's salary so the stylist should do what it takes to make them happy."

What if I hate the cut? Can I demand a fix for free?

If a client is unhappy with a service, Ianos has no qualms about waiving the cost and always offers a fix to be scheduled at a later date. Some salons may have a policy on dealing with unhappy clients while independent contractors set their own policies. Ianos says a disappointed client often is the result of a miscommunication and suggests people bring a picture of exactly what they want their hairstyle to look like to avoid any confusion.

Here are some terms to know for effectively communicating with your hairstylist

  • Fringe - refers to a straight across bang
  • Swooping - refers to a bang that swoops to the side
  • Inverted - a style that is slightly shorter in the back and longer in the front
  • Texturizing - eliminating or thinning hair
  • Peek-a-boo highlights - chunky colors underneath that are not completely noticeable on top
  • Layers - these can be shorter or longer
  • Face frame - a hairstyle that tapers in the front
  • Chunky/blended highlights - chunky highlights are large sections of color, while blended highlights are not as heavy with lots of thin streaks

Originally published August 2010. Updated May 2017.

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