How Much Should You Tip at a Hair Salon?

it’s totally up to you, but if you are super jazzed about your haircut/color and really loved the salon experience, it never hurts to throw in an extra tip for the salon owner.
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If you’re not sure how much you should be tipping your hairdresser or barber, you’re definitely not alone. Essentially, what it comes down to is how much you value your hair and your hairdresser and how much they are worth to you.

While it’s completely acceptable to tip starting at 20%, it helps to tip more. Not only is generous tipping a great way to build rapport and a friendship with your stylist, it might also prove helpful if you’re ever in need of a last-minute appointment. Plus, tips help boost a stylists morale, weekly income and overall profit. 

The friendship and relationship you develop with your stylist can last a lifetime, so it’s important to nurture it and show your appreciation and respect for their craft. Afterall, it can be quite an intimate relationship. No one else in your life can analyze your hair, keep it healthy looking, and create a look perfectly suited for you. 

We asked stylists in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto to share their thoughts on tipping and here’s what they had to say.

Salons run on a few business models—most commonly commission-based and booth rentals (more on those later).

How Much Should You Tip Your Stylist? 

On average, the lowest a customer tips their stylist is 10%, and the highest is 25%. While most clients tend to stick to a 20% tip, stylists we spoke with say that tips tend to be larger in bigger cities like Vancouver and Toronto. Even when the services were more expensive, clients in and around larger Canadian cities still tended to tip more.

If a client has super short hair, stylists say it’s common for them to tip less, since short hair requires more maintenance and touch-ups compared to long hair. So, if you’re seeing your stylist every four to six weeks, your annual hair bill will be high, possibly resulting in smaller tips. Makes sense, right? If it’s in your budget, a larger tip every once in a while is very appreciated.

Stylists also noticed that clients in some small towns or smaller salons tend to tip at least 15% regardless if they have short or long hair. If you’re a stylist at a walk-in salon or a salon inside a Mall and you don’t have a loyal clientele, it’s likely that you’ll receive lower tips. It seems that walk-in clients and those who are still shopping around for a long-term stylist aren’t as committed to tipping 20%.

So What’s the Right Amount to Tip? 

In general, stylists say that a 20% tip is fair. Start from 20%, and go from there. If you feel that your stylist went above and beyond to make your salon visit enjoyable, reward them with a larger tip. If you bring your baby or toddler to your appointment and your stylist is cutting and styling both of your hair, tip accordingly.

Did your stylist give you an amazing shoulder massage or curl your hair to perfection? Increase your tip. If you arrived late or if your stylist agreed to fit you in last-minute or work late, tip more. If you love your stylist, don’t forget to tip at least 20%. Stylists say they never forget their best tippers and they tend to go the extra mile to take great care of them. We’re talking extra add-ons at no charge, hair advice, free samples and more.

Great tips can also mean the difference between having to pre-book all your appointments way in advance all the time, versus being able to call the salon when you’re in need of a cut and colour before a trip out of town.

Should you Tip the Shampoo Person Separately? 

We get it, tipping is already confusing enough. How should you tip if one person shampoos and gives you a scalp and shoulder massage, then your stylist cuts, colours, and styles your hair?

While you might assume that if you tip 20% it automatically gets distributed fairly among the appropriate staff, this isn’t always the case. If you’re tipping at the front counter, mention to the receptionist that you’d like to tip each individual separately. 

If it’s a large or high-end salon, tip $3 to $5 to the person who shampooed your hair. If you also had your hair deep conditioned or toned, tip accordingly. In smaller towns and small salons, a $5 tip for shampooing might seem unusual since the total cost for a wash, cut and style is lower. Go with your gut instinct and base your tip on the quality of service you received.

Remember, tips are a hundred percent up to your own discretion. While tips are absolutely encouraged, they aren’t exactly mandatory. That said, the general rule of thumb when it comes to tipping your hairdresser is at least 20 percent

It’s Hard to Know Exactly How Much to Tip at a Salon 

As you can see, tipping can be tricky – but it doesn’t have to be. With the number of various services offered by salons today, coupled with the fact that several people might work on your hair during your appointment, it’s not surprising that clients get a bit confused. 

It can be awkward and nerve-wracking to arrive at the front desk after your appointment only to realize that you’re so confused about who to tip and how much. If your appointment includes a shampoo, cut, colour and blow-out, all done by different stylists, it can seem overwhelming.

How Much Should you Tip if you Used a Discount Code or Received Promotional Pricing? 

Even if you used a discount code or received a coupon, always tip based on the original cost of the service. Just because you received a discount, doesn’t mean your stylist didn’t spend the same amount of time on you as another person without a coupon. If a stylist offers you a complimentary service, no tip is required. 

Over time, and by asking the right questions, you’ll be a pro when it comes to how much to tip your hairdresser, stylist, colourist, shampoo person, even the receptionist.

What’s the Average Earnings for Hairdressers in Canada? 

Just like restaurant staff, hairdressers rely on tips to boost their income. They don’t get paid holiday pay, they have no sick days, and no Christmas bonus. During the holiday season, which is the busiest time of year for a stylist, an extra generous tip is so appreciated. 

Although some salons don’t accept tips if you’re paying by credit card, bring some cash so you’re prepared. Even though we’re living in an increasingly cashless society, cash is still king in the tipping world. 

Unsure how much a certain service will cost and therefore how much to tip? Browse the salon’s website and service menu, even if they list price ranges. At least you’ll have a much better sense of what to expect and able to gauge how much cash to have on hand. 

Hairdressers in Canada earn $42,900 on average per year, which is about $22 per hour. Entry-level hairdressers earn about $27,300 per year. Once a stylist is an experienced Master Stylist, they can earn upwards of $50,700. It can take years of hard work, training and building up a loyal clientele before a stylist earns a high income.

An experienced stylist can earn a six-figure income if they are disciplined, passionate and hard-working. It’s completely achievable with the right mindset and clear goals. Tips, retail sales, building a loyal repeat clientele and discipline are some of the keys to a successful hairdressing career.

How Much Should You Tip a Hairdresser for a $200 Service?

Generally, it’s a good idea to tip 20%. So, that’s $40 for a $200 haircut, color and style, plus $5 to $10 if someone else shampooed your hair. There’s no rule written in stone, but 20% is a great starting point. Some clients also thank their stylists with Birthday and Christmas gifts as an extra way to show their appreciation.

Many stylists choose to forgo the commission-based life and instead strike out on their own by renting booths in salons. This basically means paying a weekly or monthly fee

Why is it So Important to Tip at a Salon?

Not only is tipping kind and a show of thanks and appreciation, it’s also personal. You’re thanking your stylist for their time, knowledge, expertise and years of training. You’ve likely built a close relationship with your stylist over the years, and tipping is the best way to thank him or her. 

While tipping isn’t strictly mandatory, it is without a doubt encouraged. It doesn’t matter if your service included a dry trim, major cut, balayage or you went blonde – it’s a good idea to tip fairly and consistently.

Sometimes, despite a consultation and taking every precaution, a haircut or color might not turn out the way a client hoped. If your stylist offers to fix it, it’s ok not to tip. Some stylists might even refuse to accept a tip until after your revision appointment and once they know you’re happy.

Should you Tip the Salon Owner?

You might follow the old belief that you shouldn’t or don’t need to tip the salon Owner, but that’s old-school thinking. Most salon Owners gratefully welcome tips. A 15% to 20% tip still applies, even if it’s the Owner doing your hair. So go ahead, tip the salon Owner.

When Should you Tip the Receptionist?  

If a salon’s receptionist went above and beyond to make your experience great, consider leaving them a $5 tip. While a salon receptionist isn’t a typically tipped position, they’re the ones who answer the phone all day long, take messages for stylists, juggle the calendar and they might also do some retail sales. Tipping the reception staff is an extra cost, but it’s worth considering if they made you feel like a vip.

Conclusion

Hair salons today tend to offer a wide range of services. Thus, it’s important to tip well. Plus, let’s be honest, hairdressers do much more than hair. 

Whether your stylist rents a chair or is the Owner of the salon, don’t skimp on tipping. Prices of services are influenced by many factors, and if a stylist is renting a chair, their prices are generally influenced by their rental fee and other costs. Otherwise, a stylist might not earn much profit. Tipping goes a long way.

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