a couple of people standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Avoid that awkward moment when you don't know how much to tip for salon services like haircuts, bang trims, hairstyling, hair color, and more with this handy guide from hair professionals.© Getty Images
Avoid that awkward moment when you don’t know how much to tip for salon services like haircuts, bang trims, hairstyling, hair color, and more with this handy guide from hair professionals.

A trip to the salon is the perfect time to sit back, relax, and have a chat (or not!) with your stylist while you get a fun new look. But when it comes time to pay, there’s always the slightly awkward moment: How much do you tip? And who? We asked salon pros to tell us what they expect – or at least the norm. Spoiler alert: It all depends.

For a Haircut, Style, or Color Service

“If you are in a salon, plan to add a 20% tip,” says Clara Leonard, hairstylist for Book Your Look, who adds, “you can always ask the front desk what the standard is.” This includes haircuts, hair color services, and styling (including blowouts). Note: Many stylists prefer cash so their tip is separate from the bill – and it isn’t taxed.

For a Bang Trim

Many salons offer a free fringe touch-up, but still, you may want to reward your stylist for her efforts – in that case, pass on a couple bucks. Paid for a proper trim? “I recommend tipping 10% on a bang trim,” says hairstylist Erick Orellana of Salon Republic in West Hollywood, California.

For an Assistant at the Salon

Sometimes it takes a village to get a killer ‘do, so don’t skimp out. But one thing to remember: If your stylist has an assistant who washes your hair or helps throughout your service, he or she may be tipping the assistant out at the end of the day or week, so you can add that to your overall tip, asking that they share it. Or just tip the assistant separately. “There are a good amount of people who also tip a couple of dollars to the assistants, which is always nice and really appreciated,” says Sierra Bowling, a longtime salon receptionist.

For an In-Home Styling Session

If you book an in-home blowout, updo, bridal party, or styling service via a salon or an app, Leonard recommends paying them through the service provider, then tipping 20% in cash.

For a Service From a Friend

Got a friend who’s a talented stylist? Consider yourself lucky, but don’t forget that this is how they make their living. “If you are getting a cut or color from a friend and you know that they’re giving you a discount, up the tip to 30% in cash,” advises Leonard.

If You Don’t Like Your Haircut

Here’s the real tough question: What is the etiquette if you don’t like your service? If you were clear with your stylist about what you wanted and communicated to them that you weren’t happy after your hair was done, but your stylist refused to alter your hair to your liking, then a smaller tip is more valid. But if you didn’t tell your stylist that you dislike like your hair nor give them a chance to fix it, then deducting from their tip doesn’t make much sense.

Feel too awkward to say anything? Check out these stylist-approved tips for communicating your feelings in a respectful way. If you head back to the salon to get it fixed up, etiquette expert Peggy Post recommends paying a 15 to 20% tip to the stylist, especially if they adjust it for free.

When to Tip More Than 20%

There are certain circumstances when tipping more than 20% is a good idea, says stylist and HAUS Salon owner Charlie Brackney. He recommends adding a little extra if you’re a new client and the stylist is spending a significant amount of time on your consultation and design, if you’re doing an intensive transformation, or if it’s a holiday. And if you’re running really late to your appointment or you’ve brought along rowdy kids to the salon, tipping a few extra bucks is a nice gesture that shows your stylist you care about their time. Lastly, you can also tip above the going rate if you feel like you received exceptional results and/or service.

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