The most stressful time at the hair salon isn’t always the big color or cut reveal at the end — it’s the fact that many of us have no idea how much to tip our stylist.
I am an embarrassment when it comes to tipping at my hair salon. Even worse, I make that fact totally obvious by overcompensating and tipping everyone from the young girl who washes my hair to the person who sweeps up my hair. Tipping like you think you’re Donald Trump and expect everyone in the salon to bow on your way out is almost as bad as handing people who worked hard to make you beautiful a bunch of coins. It’s high time we crack the tipping code, for the sake of our wallets and our beloved stylists, who deserve fair tips.
“I like to follow the general tipping guideline of 15 percent for an OK/satisfactory service,” says Monaé Everett, beauty expert for Monaé Everett Hair and Makeup. “Anything over 20 percent shows that you are very happy. Any tip under five percent generally shows that you aren’t happy with the service.”
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1. Should you tip senior and junior stylists differently?
Expert opinions differ on whether senior stylists should receive higher tips than junior stylists. Everett says they will automatically receive a larger tip because they charge higher prices based on their extra experience. But Liz Sarvinas, owner of Hair by Ell, says it’s customary to acknowledge a senior staffer’s skill with a more generous tip. “Senior stylists should be tipped more, as long as they are committed to continuing education and providing above average service,” Sarvinas says. “The senior stylists are among the select few. In addition, seniority only applies when balanced with knowledge and quality.”
2. Should you adjust tip based on how long the service takes?
Both Everett and Sarvinas agree that the time it takes a stylist to color or cut your hair should not factor into the amount you tip him/her — as long as you aren’t the reason why additional time is needed for the service.
“If a stylist does not work efficiently and takes more time for a service, then no, this should not affect the tip,” Sarvinas says. “If a client has an overabundant amount of hair (long or thick) and if extra TLC is provided, then yes, it should be reflected in the tip.”
Everett says extra money for extra time is only OK if the stylist is going above and beyond the current service. “For example, if it’s a multi-process color correction or if they have to remove your hair extensions before your current service,” she says.
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3. Should you tip your stylist’s assistant?
One of the most perplexing tipping rules concerns how much we should give stylists’ assistants — especially when you have one like mine, whose head massages are priceless.
“Once you know the final price of the service and decide on the tip amount, decide how much the assistant added to the service,” Everett says. “If they simply shampooed your hair, give them a quarter of the tip. If the assistant applied your hair color, shampooed you, and blow dried your hair, give them half of the tip.”
Percentage-wise, Sarvinas says stylists’ assistants should be tipped no less than five percent and upward to 10 percent, depending on the amount of assisting and the quality of their work.
4. What other factors should influence tip?
And there are other factors that you should consider when tipping — including whether a stylist has changed his/her schedule to accommodate you, or stayed late/come in early in order to fit you in for the highlights you needed, but forgot to ask for when making your appointment, Everett says.
“The salon experience from the time you enter through the doors until exiting should be reflected in the tip, from the greeting when you enter, to the cleanliness of the salon, to the quality of the products, and then of course your satisfaction with the services you asked for should all be reflected,” Sarvinas says. “Satisfied customers leave larger tips, larger tips make stylists happy, happy stylists are encouraged to do great work and create a welcoming environment for clients. Everyone wins.”
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