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Salon Etiquette

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Should I tip if they rent their space?

June 2012

It seems as though more and more hairdressers are not salaried employees at the salon where they work, but they rent a space. In a sense, they own their business. Should they routinely be tipped? I'm not asking whether I can afford it, whether they do a good job, or whether they do or don't get benefits. I'm just unclear on what clients are expected do in this situation. I hope some hairdressers will weigh in on this! anon


I get my hair cut and highlighted at a small shop in my neighborhood. There are 2 employees, one is the owner. The owner does my hair. I have always tipped her, as well as anyone who has ever done my hair. She may be the owner, but she still performed the service. Same thing applies with my pedis. That owner performs them, but she still gets the tip. I think this only equitable. dana

Tipping stylists who own their business

Jan 2009

I know that there is already a discussion about tipping people who provide services (hairdresser, esthetician, etc.) and own their own business on the BPN website.

My hairdresser used to work for someone else and I always tipped her generously (18-20%) because she did and does a fantastic job. About a year ago, she opened her own salon with a partner. I continued to give her the same amount of tip because it never occurred to me to tip her less. However, her prices have gone up recently and I would like to cut back on the amount that I am tipping her. I am thinking of only tipping her 15% for a while and then maybe reducing that to something lower. How low (% wise) could I go while still showing her that I appreciate her? Or would she be offended by me reducing my tips and think that I no longer appreciate her as much as I used to?

The second area where I would like advice is for the esthetician who I just started seeing who owns her own business. I tipped her 15+% the first two visits from habit. Is it okay not to tip at all since she owns her own business? If I do tip, what is an acceptable %? Thanks BPN Community for your advice!


I remember as a child my mother never tipped her hairdresser because she said she was the owner, and got a percentage of the other hairdressers tips. True or not, I always disagreed with this because of my own experience as a ''server.'' At any rate, I would continue to tip, though maybe not as much, because she is still providing you with a service. As the owner, she probably is the last to get paid. If she begins to get employees, and gets a percentage from what they earn, you might then reconsider. But especially now, when it is difficult for small businesses to get started, I would go that extra bit to support her. Been on both ends of the Tip
I have responded to tipping questions on BPN before- I'm a former hairstylist, so I have some insight here. Let me say again- tipping is always optional! And yes, It's okay to reduce the percentage you tip when your stylist raises their prices. Fifteen percent is a nice tip. You won't be the only one reducing the percentage they tip after a price increase. Stylists do notice the amount that you tip, but mostly they just want you to be happy and to keep coming back.

As for the question of tipping a salon owner- I've always read that it isn't done, but I can tell you that most people do tip the salon owner, and that it is very much appreciated. Clients don't know it, but the profit margin in a salon is quite narrow. This is especially true in a new business because the stylists are building their client base and the salon owner makes most of their profit from commissions. Overhead is high, as in any business- advertising,rent, insurance, inventory, laundry service, receptionist, etc.

Salon owners often spend a lot of time running the salon and less time taking clients. As a result, sometimes stylists and aestheticicians actually earn more than salon owners during the period when they are building their business. Believe me, your aesthetician will be in no way insulted if you leave a tip.

I think it's very nice that you asked the question. If you want to do something really nice for a new salon owner send your friends. They will appreciate that more than anything and they won't forget it. Some will even offer to comp you on your next service- it's worth it to them. Hope that helps!


I remember an, of all things, Dear Abby article from many years ago when Abby explained the etiquette of tipping with regards to this situation. According to her, you are not required to tip business owners. I assume that this is because they get to keep all of the money they are bringing in, whereas an employee (or station renter) will not get to keep the entire amount that you pay, and so needs your tips to help bring their income back up to a profitable level. However, I would think that if you really value the service that the business owner provides, tipping a little extra is certainly appropriate. Big Tipper

The cut is good but she can't do color

June 2007

Recently, I've been going to a woman whose cuts are working pretty well for me, but whose color work isn't, and after three tries at it, I've come to the conclusion that she's just not going to get it.

So I want to find someone else for the color, and don't know if it would just be too insulting if I were to keep her for the cuts only- it would, of course, be obvious that I wasn't satisfied with her color work. She's a very nice person with a low-key personality, but I can't help thinking that anyone would take some offense. My other thought is that since it's immensely easier to make just one appointment rather than two, and since color and cut need to work well together, maybe I should just move on altogether

Has anyone dealt with this? And (although I realize this is more a question for Recommendations!) I wonder if anyone can suggest a stylist who is great at cutting curly, unruly hair (which I'm growing long and many stylists want to take off too much), and doing color work that both hides gray well and livens up the overall look- and, whose rates aren't through the roof. Anon


I have long very curly/frizzy hair. I get it cut and colored with Maria at Ah Dorno Studio on Hearst Avenue, just across from the north gate of campus. Maria always does a good job, although I confess I was a color virgin before she started coloring my hair. I frequently get compliments. I recommend you give her a try. I think their rates are reasaonable: including cut, color, and tip, I pay $120. I think the base fee is just over $100. Try Ah Dorno, 540-1104. Amy
I had a similar situation. I found the perfect person for my curly hair (with gray) that I want to keep at a semi-long length. I go to Sarah Garrity at Festoon Salon (she works at both the Berkeley and San Francisco locations). She's in high demand. I have to make appointments far ahead--I like to do cut and color at the same time. There are those times where I've made my appointment far in advance and then something comes up to conflict with it and I have to change it. If I can't get Sarah for the cut and/or color, I get another stylist to do one or both. The great thing about the salon is that the stylist you are loyal to doesn't have a problem with another stylist doing your cut/color. They all have a great attitude about it. If I waited for Sarah every time I had to reschedule an appointment, my hair would be looking really bad! Anyway, the salon is great and I love Sarah for my curly hair (she also has long curly hair)! Sarah Garrity at Festoon (888) 357- 2566. Tell her Marcia (rhymes with Garcia) sent you. :o) Marcia
I go to a stylist for hair cuts and color my hair myself. For a while I was seeing a separate stylist for color. It never was an issue. been there
I have Gail at Circle Salon at the Kensington Circle cut and color my naturally curly hair. I've been going to her for years and am quite satisfied. Call her at 510-691-2052 and tell her that Sharyn sent you! Sharyn
I had the same problem recently, except in reverse. I found a new stylist and I liked her color work, but the cut wasn't that great. My former stylist gave me great cuts, but didn't do color. So I went back to my former stylist for the cut and stayed with the new stylist for the color. I was a little worried about what would happen when I went to the new gal for the color when I had clearly had my hair cut by someone else. Turns out, I was worried for nothing. She did ask me who cut my hair (I told her I went back to my former stylist) and it ended there. She didn't say ''you didn't like the cut I gave you?'' like I thought she would. I was dreading having to answer that one. So, although it is kind of a hassle, I now go to two different people - one for the cut and one for the color. Not ideal but fine for now A
I went through a similar situation-I had someone who cut my hair for years, and then last 3 haircuts were no good-i tried a few new people and found one I really like. Her name is Marija at Elixir on Hopkins in Berkeley-I have curly hair and she is great. For color, I see someone else, and no one seems to mind. So I wouldn't worry about it, I think hairsylists are used to people coming and going, and it's fine to have different people for cut and color. m

Haircut Tipping Etiquette


Oct 2008

I am always wondering how much to tip my hairstylist. For haircut and color I get charges $170, and leaving a 10% or 15% tip seems quite steep. I have been giving that much so far, but since the rates are increasing (and times are tougher), I need to take into consideration that amount. Thanks for any advice. anon.


It's my strong opinion that one should tip 15-20% for salon services. You make the choice to get your hair done. The tip is part of that cost. If you can't afford the service plus a decent tip, you need to find a more affordable option. Don't penalize your hairstylist. Think about it... Would you go to a restaurant - order an expensive meal and not tip because the economy is bad?? Yes, times are tough. For everyone. Hairstylists don't make a lot of money. They spend a lot of time and energy making us look good. They deserve a tip. It's only fair. Big Tipper
Egads, money is always a tough issue...that said, I think that you should tip your hairdresser the going rate (CNN Money says 15% to 20% is the going rate...so you are already at the low-end of the tip scale). Just as you have expectations to your salary that affords you the opportunity to spend $170 on hair coloring, your hairdresser has expectations to her/his remuneration and what it affords her/him. -anon
If your hairstylist charges $170, it is likely she owns her own business and is considered a professional. As such, normally a tip is not appropriate. You don't tip your accountant, for example. If your hairstylist is paid minimum wage, such as the stylists at Supercuts, then a 15% tip (or more) is appropriate. Tips are given for low-paid service jobs, not for highly-paid professionals (unless they really did something special and unusual for you). professional
If you can afford $170 to have your hair cut/colored then you can afford to leave a 10-15% tip. A down economy affects EVERYONE. just keeping it real...
You pay 170 dollars for a haircut and you're concerned about the tip!?!? That reminds me of people who Super Size their meal, but opt for DIET coke. Okay... trying not to be judgmental... trying to ignore that 170 bucks will get my kids haircuts for over a year... Perhaps you could consider going to a more... reasonably priced haircutter, so then you could feel better about giving ten or 15%. Kevin
I worked as a hairstylist for many years, and tips generally run about 20%. I am going to be very frank with you, because you asked an honest question and I assume you want an honest answer. A tip of 10% stands out as being quite small. A 10% tip is very unusual. I always gave each client the same level of service regardless of how generous they were, but let me put it this way- in ten years of hairstyling I only had a handful of clients who routinely left a 10% tip, and I always wondered if these clients had a fundamental lack of understanding of or respect for my work. $170 for a cut and color is very reasonable. The tip for a service costing $170 would usually be about $30-$35. Yes, a cut and color is expensive, and yes, your stylist is probably making a very good living. But remember that you are paying not just for her time but for her expertise. She only makes it look easy. It isn't. I had genuine affection for my clients, but when I had clients who undertipped I sometimes found myself wishing they would find someone else. Single moms who left small tips, or artists- that never bothered me. But when a client who is relatively affluent leaves a small tip it sends a message- I am an important person and I deserve to be paid well. You are not an important person and you do not deserve to be paid well, because you work with your hands.

In restaurants I suppose people may leave a smaller tip to convey that they are displeased with the service. But if you have a regular stylist who you return to because you like her work, you should show her the respect of leaving a 20% tip. In our culture it is the standard, and less than 20 is disrespectful. Being Honest


just a response to the fellow who wanted to get rid of his clients who (only) tipped 10%--and thought $170 was reasonable for a hair cut. i honestly had no idea how much to tip in a salon so finally i asked the receptionist at festoon what i should do. she said most clients tipped 10%, so that's what i do. interesting that the advice was all over the map. hair junkie
I pay about $200 for a cut plus color. The stylist I go to is at the top of her game - she trains others at the salon in color. She never makes mistakes or gives me a bad cut. I am always completely satisfied, and I know I can count on her to give me a flawless haircut that still looks great 2 months later. I need to look good for my job, and my job pays me enough to do it, so I am happy to pay this. When I was in school, I paid a lot less for haircuts or I cut my hair myself, because that's all I could afford. In my experience, you get what you pay for. Just like clothes, just like food, you get what you pay for. I just wanted to say that, for the people who thought $170 is a lot. It really is not a lot for 3 hours' worth of a trained professional's time, and it allows the stylists to actually live in the Bay Area and buy groceries and pay for childcare for their kids.

OK, now that that's out of the way. You should tip a stylist between 15% and 20% Even if you are paying a lot for the haircut you still must tip. Very likely the stylists in the upscale salon are taking a big cut on their fee in overhead just to work there. Regardless of the salon, 15-20% is the accepted practice and it's understood that people are going to do that.

As for not tipping if your stylist is the owner: I think this is an old-fashioned notion that the owner will consider a tip "offensive". Those days are over, and yes you should tip even if your stylist is the owner.

And a note to the person who thinks that if it cost $170 for a cut-and-color, it must be the the owner: nope!
Nice hair lady


June 2007

Being a relative newcomer to the Bay Area I was somewhat shocked at prices for services. As for getting one's hair done it seems to be costing a pretty penny. Tipping is my question: Is a 15% tip typical? And does this go for a full cut/color cost equally? At an outrageous cost of $130+, a 15% tip would put you at almost $150 or more. Is this correct or am I off the mark? And do salon owners get tips? Before I embarrass myself again at a salon with possible inappropriate tips I would love some advice. Much appreciated! anon


My hairdresser charges $130 for cut and color and I usually give her a $30 tip which works out to $160. I do this because I think she is fabulous and really appreciate that after a very long time of looking for the right hairdresser I have finally found one that listens to me, does what I ask and yet uses her expertise to make me look my best. In the past I have went to other hairdressers that charged a similar fee (if not more) and done a horrible job on my hair so I think it is worth the price to pay my current hairdresser a fee that shows I appreciate the work she does. I do not tip the owner of the salon who I had cut my hair a LONG time ago and was one of those people I thought did a horrible job. You get what you pay for
I have been seeing the same hairdresser in Danville for 10 years and I have always tipped her 3 dollars despite the fact that her fee has tripled during the same period. That's all that I have felt like tipping her and that's the most I ever plan to tip her. One exception is when she sees both my wife and I. Then we tip her 5 dollars and that's it. Between my 35 dollar haircut and my wife's 60 dollar haircut, 5 dollars feels right for us. Almost 5 percent feels very generous in our opinion
I've always heard that hairdressers get a 10 percent tip. That's what I've always done. I sometimes round up a little for a job well done, but 15 percent is generous in my book.
First, you must understand that tipping originated as a custom when service providers were extremely poor. Today, it is a way of supplementing inadequate pay, such as waiters' and other minimum wage workers. Here are the general rules for tipping as I understand them: Always tip minimum wage employees such as hairdressers at Supercuts or waiters. Professionals and owners who set their own rates are not tipped. Self-employed hairdressers who charge $50 or more for a haircut are considered professionals and should not be tipped (those are middle class or better wages in any event).
I'm told 20% is considered standard for a salon service and this is what I tip. Consider that a server in a restaurant would normally receive 15-20%, and they are waiting on several customers at once. In a salon you have the stylist's complete personal attention for close to an hour. Salon owners generally do not receive a tip. A tip for the person who tips $5 on $95 service - your stylist hates you. I love my stylist
Jan 2007

Hi, Lately I've been getting facials, waxing or haircuts by the owners. If it is just a one person operation, or the owner of the shop, are tips expected? Many thanks


no, you do not tip the owner. Tipping is customary for service workers - many owners would find a tip offensive - they are the professionals in the industry, not the wage-earners. tipping for workers not the owners
I have had hair cuts, facials, and manicures by both owners as well as employees. I always tip no matter what. I Like to show my appreciation when someone has gone above and beyond and I want to ensure that I get the same great service the next time.
I'm in the beauty industry as a product rep and know many salon and spa owners. If I'm happy with the cut and/or service, I tip. Most owners are just breaking even to cover salon expenses. They make their real income by giving services like everyone else in the salon.
August 2003

As long as we're soliciting recommendations for hair stylists, I'd like to initiate a discussion about haircut-tipping etiquette. In the ''olden days'' we always tipped the stylist when she worked for the owner of a salon and was probably not very well paid, but now with the upscale stylists renting chairs (which sort of amounts to their owning their own business, right?) and charging rather a lot for their services, is tipping still required, or expected? Obviously, for a special ''thank you'' it would be nice, but as a regular thing? Please enlighten!


I've been tipping my stylists between 10-15% because I didn't want to offend them. A couple of times I saw other customers paying and they weren't tipping. So recently I changed stylists and I just flat out asked him about tipping. He said, ''Some people tip, some people don't, I'm asking for $190.00 and that amount would be perfectly fine.'' So I didn't tip. I'm just so shocked at the high price now, I think I'm going to only tip as a gift (during the holidays) or when I'm feeling a bit more generous. Tipping to me lets them know how happy I am with their work, but unfortunately, they must already know that I'm happy because it's built into the price! Jenny
Funny that this should be posted today because I just came from paying $165 for a cut and color. My stylist pays only for the rental on her chair at this upscale salon, so I (guiltily) only tipped her $20 on the total. I now feel emboldened not to tip, at all (I think). Of course, she did spend 4 hours on my hair. I think that I am comfortable giving her a small gratuity from now on, not the customary 20%. Groov Stylin'
It is my understanding that the going rate is still 15-20% of the bill (actual labor only-not including product), unless it is the owner of the salon (or, I guess, chair) and then it is discretionary, ranging from 0-20%. My neighbor tips 0 to her salon owner, but I have always given them something, even if it was something less than 15% when I was unemployed, the owner did my hair, and the bill for a weave was $150. Stylists offer honed skills (my long time guy was trained at Vidal Sassoon in Italy, and regularly attended classes to update his expertise) which I think should be recognized. I know for sure there are many people who haven't done a good job with my hair, and so I really appreciate competency in this area. By the way, what I am talking about is a whole different ballgame than the local barber. I sort of look at it as part of the total cost. Now, I have often wondered what is correct to tip the assistant who may wash hair, hand over weave materials, even mix dyes, etc. Seems to me like this should be part of the 15-20%, but I usually just give them an additional $3-6 and call it a day. If anyone knows the answer to this (the tip for an assistant-how much/part of 15-20%? - does the stylist share part of theirs?), I would appreciate knowing that! JRoberts
I tip 20%, every time. anon
What I was always told by my dear mother was, if the hairdresser is the owner of the shop, you don't tip, but if he or she is *not the owner, you do. I don't think you should concern yourself with the booth rental arrangements between the owner and the hairdresser. If you really don't feel like tipping, that's always your perogative...but me, I like my hair to look decent, so I leave a tip! Neatly Shorn

Tipping for a facial & manicure

May 2004

I was wondering if someone could advise me on the appropriate amount to tip for a facial and then for a manicure/pedicure combo? I was given gift certificates last year for mothers day and am just now getting around to using them!! But I am not sure how much I should tip and I am not sure how much these services normally cost (its not listed on the certificates). Thanks for your help! kate


I give a $2 tip for a pedicure or manicure, $3 if they do a good massage. Rule of thumb is 10-15% in general. I tip
I usually tip 20% - 15% sometimes if it's a really expensive service, such as highlights, which cost $125. + Kim

What to do about a bad haircut?

Feb 2004

Does anyone have any advice for how to deal with a bad haircut? I recently received my 2nd cut from a particular stylist. The first cut was great but this second cut is choppy, uneven, and very high maintenance. If it were a longer cut I might ask her to just change the style to something more liveable but it is too short. If I just did not like the style that would be one thing but I think this is mostly a bad cut. Should I go back to her in the next couple of days and ask for a discount or something on my next cut? Or is this just a case of caveat emptor and I need to start looking for a new stylist? What have you done in this situation? Jennifer


If you want to keep this stylist, I would call her ASAP and very nicely tell her the cut isn't working for you and you need a fix -- or maybe a lesson in styling it -- and get her to work you in as soon as she can. But if you think she just isn't very good, write her off and find someone new! Walk up to people you see who have good short haircuts and find out who does their hair. Personally I recommend Jhay Green on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland; he is sweet, accommodating and a very talented stylist. His number is 655-0105. Good luck! Sara
If you generally like this person, I'd talk to her/him and tell them how unhappy you are and see what they say. After that,I guess I'd look for a new hairdresser and chalk it up to experience. Hair grows, so at least it won't be forever. Best wishes for quick growing, anon
My hairstylist will do free touchups if a haircut doesn't turn out the way I want (in fact, she'll do them even if she's done a fine job). With a short cut it often helps to wait a couple of weeks before having one done! , so that enough has grown out to work with. Of course, if you feel the stylist didn't do a good job in the first place, maybe you don't want to go back to her. In which case, another stylist might give you a touch-up cut for less than a full haircut. Good luck Karen
Since you liked your first cut, I would go back to the stylist and tell her you are not happy with your new haircut. Ask her what she could do to ''fix''( Probably should come up with a better word) the way it looks. I have heard of people doing this before. However, if you are not happy with her ideas or response, I would look for a new stylist. Elizabeth
I'd never hesitate to go back and ask the hairstylist to fix your cut, or, if you don't want to risk her making it even worse, at least call -- or write a note -- to let her know you're disappoint! ed with her work. A real professional might even refund your money.
Trust me on this one - I know how much a bad haircut can ruin your life. Under normal conditions I'm about the least hair-obsessed person you're likely to meet. I wash it and brush it and give it very little thought beyond that. (judging from your complaint that your haircut is high-maintainence I'd say you're the same way). Sadly, I've ended up with a few haircuts that were so bad I couldn't even look at myself. A friend and I came up with a system of guidelines to deal with this problem. First of all, I'd advise against getting a repair cut. Make a ''hair vow'' not to cut it for 6 months, although a year is better. I know what you want to do is fix the hair now, but trust me on this one - let it grow. In the meanwhile get some hair bands to pull your hair back. It's a very low-maintainence way to fix the hair for now. Second of all, give up on that stylist. Don't bother calling him/her. They can't put the hair back, and you'll never trust them again anyways. I was once so upset with a bad cut I embarrassed myself by calling the stylist in tears, only to feel stupid afterwards. Find a new stylist who will speak to you about your hair concerns WITHOUT any scissors in his/her hands. Sometimes a bad haircut is the result of a hurried situation. Find someone who has time for a real discussion before they start hacking up your hair. Tell them about your bad past experiences. Once you find someone you trust you're less likely to get a bad cut. Lastly, construct a permanent flashing neon sign in your brain warning you against certain hair-styles. Mine says ''NO BANGS! NO BANGS!'' Arrange for a good friend on-call who will always be there to talk you out of certain hair styles.

Okay, I know these measures may sound a little extreme. I've been through what you have. I know you're not shallow. You just don't want to look stupid. These tried-and-true methods can save you from years of thinking too much about your hair. Good luck MEG


Sorry you're upset about your haircut. It's really frustrating to not be happy with your hair and how you look. As for dealing with stylist and what to do, I suggest that you don't have to make a unilateral decision. Instead, talk with her. Tell her what you've shared here. The 1st cut was great,but you're very disappointed with this one. What does she suggest to either fix it or appease you (ie, discount)? Based on her response, you can better decide whether or not to find someone new. At least hair does grow :) Always changing hairstyles.
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