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How much to tip for a haircut and more savvy salon tips

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

Salon etiquette 101 for women who still wonder what they should really tip their hair stylist

Women spend hours every year in salons, sitting under hair dryers, getting foiled, fussed over and primped in those colored smocks. But are we following the rules of salon etiquette? Do you know how to tip and what words your stylist likes to hear? Check your salon savvy with these common questions to find out if you're a beauty school dropout!

How much should I tip my hair stylist?

Emily Post Institute, an organization that '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. 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 them?

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. However, if the shampoo person works for the stylist, it is generally acceptable for the client to tip her., the original tipping page, recommends tipping $1 to $2 for a shampoo person. If in doubt, ask the receptionist or client coordinator when you schedule an appointment.

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

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Hairstyle tips from celeb stylist Sarah Potempa
17 Dos and don'ts for daily hair care

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