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So, you just got yourself a haircut. The person behind the look did a great job, and you want to thank them by handing over a tip.
For Americans, the practice is pretty standard. While 12% of customers never tip their barber, 67% do every time they get their hair done, according to CreditCards.com.
But, how much are you supposed to tip? You don’t want to come off as stingy and give too little, but you don’t want to spend more money than you have to either.
Luckily for you, we’ve prepared a handful of the most relevant data points to give you a general idea of how much to tip barbers and stylists alike.
Is Tipping at a Salon Required?
Depending on where you live, tipping can either be a social requirement or an optional construct. According to BusinessInsider, countries like Australia and Switzerland consider tips optional. Other cultures like those of Japan and Hong Kong consider tipping as an insult!
In the United States, though, tipping is an unspoken rule. It’s not legally enforced per se, but it’s very much expected in settings where tips represent a substantial portion of a service provider’s income.
At the very least, electing not to tip will get you a disappointed stare. At worst, you might not be welcome back to the establishment after leaving a terrible tip.
Professions that rely on tips include waiters, movers, and yes, stylists and barbers.
Tipping at a salon can really go a long way, and a good tip can often help heavily booked stylists fit you in for preferred appointments, offer you more flexible cancellation options, and even sometimes result in discounts and cost-free services.
So, even though you aren’t forced to tip at a salon, your stylist is more than likely expecting you to.
Considering that most barbers and hairdressers calculate their income assuming tips, throwing in a few extra dollars is a great way to support a local small business, and it is sure to make your experience a more pleasant one.
Exactly How Much Do You Tip a Hairdresser or Barber?
There are two common ways to decide how much to tip a barber or hairdresser. The preferred way is by calculating the tip you’ll leave based on a percentage of your bill.
The second way to tip would be to simply give a fixed amount that isn’t related to your bill.
Both methods are valid, but your choice will depend on your personal financial flexibility and, ultimately, how well you believe the services have been rendered.
Remember, despite the occasional heated debate you might run across on Facebook, tipping in our society is, at its core, a way to reward excellent service and influence the level of service you receive as a customer.
When offering a tip that has been calculated based on your bill, there are many opinions on what the ideal percentage should be.
Byrdie.com suggests that a minimum of 15% or more is generally the way to go, though tipping 15% may seem a bit stingy to some schools of thought. 20% is generally perceived as the gold standard.
Leaving precisely 20% of your bill as a tip will usually serve you well, but there are other factors you might want to consider, too. This really comes in handy when you’re not in a position to pay an additional 20% or, for whatever reason, aren’t willing.
When receiving any kind of service at a salon for the first time, a good suggestion is to tip a little bit more than usual to make a good first impression to the barber or stylist that is working with you.
If the stylist or barber made the extra effort to help you feel exceptionally comfortable or took the time to provide you with a level of service that exceeded your expectations, you would want to bump up your tip. They deserve it!
There are books of services offered in salons and barbershops, ranging from haircuts to manicures and pedicures. Here are a few examples of the tipping conventions for specific services to help you decide how much to tip a barber or hairdresser.
Haircuts vary in price depending on the salon, the type of haircut, and the experience level of the stylists. Shops like Grooming Lounge offer haircuts for men at around $55-$68, so you’ll be tipping $11-$13 in that price range.
Hairstylists offer services that are usually more expensive than regular haircuts. This has to do with the amount of time a style can take and the number of products and accessories that are required to pull a full look together.
For example, an updo can cost you around $120, and a blowout around $85 at least, according to Thumbtack.com. The tips on these services will cost you around $20-$30.
3. Manicures and Pedicures
Manicures and pedicures can be pretty affordable in some salons. CostHelper lists an average cost of $10-$15 for a manicure at a small salon.
When tipping on a small service like this, you’ll only need to tip around $2. However, bigger salons offering high-end services will cost you more and therefore require a bigger tip.
If you need help calculating your tips, try a tool like this one.
The second method for tipping is often quite a bit simpler to figure out. Leaving a flat amount that has no connection to your bill is an easy way to handle the practice. But, there are a few caveats that should be observed with this route.
Tipping less than $5 on any service should be done with the understanding that you risk insulting your service provider. Barbers and hairdressers are skilled artists who have gone to school and invested a lot of time and money in their craft.
If they have provided the service you expected, stylists should be appropriately compensated for their work. Don’t forget that most salons discount their prices with the assumption that their stylists will receive tips.
What to Do If You Aren’t Happy with Your Haircut
Sometimes, you get what you asked for at the salon. Other times, the haircut you end up with may not be what you hoped for or is just lackluster, overall. When tipping culture suggests that you tip on every service you receive, what should you do if you don’t like the haircut?
If you’re really unhappy with the service you experienced, you can choose not to tip. This gesture, however, carries with it a fairly strong message.
There is no better way to say, “I won’t be coming back” than a zero tip. Before you go to this extreme, however, be sure to try to communicate with your stylist.
If you’ve let your hairdresser or barber know that you aren’t feeling the look, and they still aren’t able or willing to fix it, then, by all means, use your tip—or lack thereof—to cast a vote for the type of experience you’d expect.
If your service was just mediocre or the style was just a tad underwhelming but not horrible, try tipping the minimum of 15%.
What Other Factors Can Influence Your Tip?
Whether you’re getting a simple manicure or an elaborate up-do, the type of service you book can impact your tip—and not just because of price differences. The amount of effort and time expended by a stylist can warrant higher or lower tips.
Some of the other non-price-related factors include:
Considering this measure can be a bit tricky. You could argue that the more time a stylist puts into the haircut or manicure, the better and more attentive the service will be.
On the other hand, a less experienced stylist or one who is distracted will take more time than necessary to complete a look.
If your stylist puts more time than expected into a service and offers you excellent attention throughout, add an additional 5-8% to your standard tip.
If your barber follows your instructions to the letter, or if the manicure and pedicure were done with extra care, the higher quality of service deserves acknowledgment.
On the other hand, lackluster service, especially from establishments that are highly rated, may warrant a more modest tip. Again, you shouldn’t be non-tipper if the service isn’t abysmal, just tip a more conservative amount—15% should suffice.
Who doesn’t love great service paired with an exceptional attitude? People who do their best to make you feel comfortable throughout your stay in the salon definitely deserve bigger tips. They put in extra work just to make sure you’re having a great time.
It doesn’t even have to be in the form of charismatic chatting while getting a haircut. If they respect your personal privacy and don’t initiate too much conversation, or are just overall really nice, consider bumping up your tip to 20 or even 25%.
What About Apprentices?
Sure, it’s a no-brainer to tip your hairdresser. But, what about the other people, the assistants, who help the stylists? They may just be in charge of tasks like washing your hair or blow-drying it, but that could warrant a tip as well.
Before you tip the usual 20% to the apprentice, remember that sometimes apprentices are heavily involved in the styling process. Other stylists prefer to do most of the work themselves, leaving little or no room in the process for apprentices.
If you do decide to tip the assistants in the salon, a fixed amount is generally appropriate.
Instead of using a calculator to determine how much you should be tipping an apprentice, OprahMag suggests tipping anywhere from $5–$20.
Cash or Card?
It’s usually safe to assume that a salon will accept credit and debit cards. But not every salon accepts tips on credit card payments. Call ahead to find out if you can add gratuity onto your bill via credit, otherwise, plan to carry some cash.
Cash is always the preferred method for tips.
So, How Much Do You Tip a Hairdresser or Barber?
Tipping can be confusing for a lot of people, especially with so many factors to consider beyond the standard percentages. Generally though, it’s a good idea to start off with 20% of your bill as a tip, then factor in the other contributions.
Remember, tips have become more than just a gesture of gratitude—it is widely considered as an expected charge on services. Offering great barbers or hairdressers 20% as a tip will go a long way.