Salon Etiquette Q&A video

This month’s FAQ video is all about salon etiquette. I asked a few of you to comment with questions on the blog’s Facebook page about anything related to this topic, and grabbed some of the most repeated questions to answer in this video.

My answers are coming from 10 years in the industry, with the majority of those years spent working for myself. So, keep in mind that there may be different opinions depending on different circumstances! I really just wanted to offer my thoughts on a few of the topics, and hopefully it’s of some value.

The topics!
00:50 – tipping
03:58 – communicating with your stylist if you are unhappy
06:58 – if you are on a tight time frame and don’t want to be double booked
10:01 – breaking up with your stylist


  1. says

    Those are some great tips! It’s been a while since I have gotten my hair cut in the US ( currently living in Brazil ). Here in Brazil the system is reaaaallly different! You don’t tip for anything, only at restaurants where 10% is mandatory and included automatically in your bill. Usually when you go to a salon here, the owner is the only stylist and she has helpers to wash hair and clean up. I’ve only seen one salon with many stylists here, usually it’s only the owner!

  2. says

    Thanks for the tipping info. I’ve always sort of hoped I was doing the right thing but it was one of those things too awkward to bring up!

  3. says

    Thank you for the great advice!
    Unfortunately my salon closed a couple weeks ago and now I have to find another salon and stylist as I have no idea where she went. In Germany its more common to go to a salon where more than one stylists work. I hope to find another great stylist soon, I was so happy with the last one.

  4. says

    Thanks for doing this… I really enjoy your FAQs videos! I have a tip-related question: I go to a pretty ritzy salon where typically at least two people touch me besides my stylist (assistant, shampoo person, and occasionally someone will massage my hands/arms while I’m getting my hair washed out). And then, all three of these people disappear sometime between when I get my hair washed out and leave the salon. How do I handle tipping these people? I typically leave a really nice tip (25-30%) for my stylist when I go to pay, but how do I make sure these other people are getting tips too? Any ideas? I don’t want to awkwardly wander the salon with cash looking for them. How do other people handle this?

    • says

      for the most part, I think it’s assumed that the stylist will “tip” their assistants at the end of the day. So, maybe if you leave a slightly larger tip for your stylist, she’ll take care of the assistants.

    • says

      Thanks Kate, that’s kind of what I assumed. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t committing a huge faux pas by not directly tipping the assistants!

  5. says

    I love the advice video. However I was wondering what do you say to your stylist when they have increased their prices, dramatically. I was one of his first clients, when he finished school and have stayed with him. He is really, really good now and has a huge clientale. So big that I have my appointments booked through July. The clientale that he has now is doctor’s wives, lawyers, business owners, so they can afford the higher prices, I am a working mom that lives comfortable but can’t afford the prices that he has increased to. I really like his work and don’t want to switch, but may have to. What can I say or do???

    • says

      Unfortunately, as skill and expertise increase, so does price. I don’t think you can ask for a discount or anything, but maybe talk about other ways you can cut back?? fewer trims, less high maintenance color?

    • says

      I would LOVE for you to address price increases in your next video….why we (as stylists) need to raise prices. And how a big chunk of that $ goes to either the salon we work for or towards booth rent/supplies. And also maybe how canceling last-minute affects our business. Thanks!

  6. says

    Great advice! I think we have all encountered these situations at one time or another or will sometime in the future – I will be the first to admit that I have hid in the aisles of Target to avoid an awkward conversation after seeing a stylist I parted ways with! Random question – could you post where your necklace is from? So pretty!

  7. says

    Here in Australia, we don’t do tipping. It just isn’t part of the daily grind and I love it! (Although I’m born and bred in the States, I never tipped my hair salon person. Ever. The only time I’d tip is visiting a restaurant and the service was absolutely over and beyond what was expected.) Most places down here, it is a fireable offence to accept a tip from customers. We get paid very well and tips are verboten.

    That said, I always compliment my stylist when they do something I like. If my stylist isn’t in when I’ve made an appointment with them, that bugs me. But since I’ve had to cancel last minute, I figure my stylist is allowed to bail on me too once in a while. 😉

  8. says

    I have a question regarding tipping as well. At the salon I go to, I see the owner. (I’ve been going to him since I was a kid.) He’s only ever increased his price once (that I can remember – and it’s still pretty inexpensive for a cut) and I tip about 20%. When I get my hair cut, his assistant (typically a cosmetology student at one of the local schools) does. I don’t typically tip the assistant though. Should I be?

  9. says

    Love these FAQ videos! Can’t tell you how helpful they are…..I am still ashamed that in my earlier years of being on my own I never tipped anything!! Now, I happily and generousness tip my stylist who is AWESOME!!

  10. says

    Kate, where is your shirt in this video from? I have been hunting for a striped gray shirt! I love your hair, he cut, color, style…..etc :) Wish I lived near your salon!

  11. says

    Ah this video was 4 days late!! Where was it when I needed?! I used to go to a woman who rented her own booth but then I moved to a big city. It’s so different- i didn’t know that they charge you extra to blow dry your hair ($45!) after coloring it- is this common? I couldn’t even tell what my color was when it was wet- then I got home- and she didn’t even do what I wanted- I was going from a golden carmel brunette to blonde- yes my hair looks better but it’s almost EXACTLY the same color as it was to start. I even showed her a picture of my hair last summer the color I wanted! To top it off–I paid $250 for just color and gave >20% tip! I was so distraught- I knew it’d be pricier but could not believe they won’t even blow try it and I was practically kicked out of the chair for the next client! The salon owner is going to “fix it” next weekend… do I tip her for fixing, are they expecting me to pay? I’m so lost! But lesson learned- I can replace my doctor, my dentist, but I def. cannot replace my hair stylist!

  12. says

    Thanks for this! I always wonder about tipping so I end up leaving a very large tip and my husband thinks I’m crazy! My cousin is my hairstylist and he always does whatever he wants with my hair. It makes me uncomfortable and I’d like to go to someone else, but I’m not sure how to handle the situation without causing problems between us. Any suggestions?

  13. says

    great info! would love to hear how much booth renters or independent stylists expect for a tip. since they are now keeping 100% of the charge, does that mean it’s ok to tip less than 20%?

    also, would love to know your thoughts on what you should say to your stylist if you’re breaking up w them solely because her prices have increased and are stretching your budget!

    • says

      they aren’t “going home” with 100% of the service–it’s just their responsibility to pay for their supplies from that income. I’d still recommend tipping the same. :)

  14. says

    You mentioned the standard tip is about $20. And then you mentioned tipping shampoo ladies, etc. So how much do you tip the shampoo lady? Are you suggesting tipping everyone that touches you 20% of your total? Or is it just a $1-$2 tip? Thanks for your advice?

  15. says

    Does a stylist really expect a 20% tip on top of a $175.00 cut/color? I usually tip nicely but $35 seems a little extravagant. I live in a small town and wonder if it’s different in the big city.

    • says

      “expect” isn’t a word I would use. Again, I only mentioned it as a rough idea of a good tip. If that’s too high for you, only do what you are comfortable with.

  16. says

    I’ve always gone against the some other opinions when it comes to tipping my particular stylist. I go to her for simple trims every so often (I’m growing out my once-pixie cut and am now happily several inches below my shoulders). She’s an old friend, I know her from church, I graduated with her daughter … but here’s the thing. She owns her own salon. It’s just her, no assistants or anything. And she’s not part of any chain or anything, she’s in her own building with her own booth. She sets her own prices. So I don’t feel the need to tip her. If she expected extra in tips, then she can raise her prices to include that. Am I being a complete jerk for thinking this? I don’t think I’ve ever tipped her in the years I’ve been with her. If I’m somewhere where I know it’s a chain or that stylist is just renting a booth, then I know they might not be able to dictate their prices and I therefore feel a tip is the thing to do. But when they’re setting their own prices, I’ve always said no. I have some friends and family who don’t particularly agree. What would you say is the right way to handle this?

    • says

      No I don’t think you are being a jerk, and while you do have a point, it may be harder than you think to raise your prices–especially when you are an individual stylist in your own salon.

  17. says

    Thanks for the info about tipping, I always wonder if I’m doing it right! If you’ve been double booked and the stylist leaves you to take care of her other client and has an assistant take over the blow dry, does that mean I have to tip the assistant? Should I take some of the money meant for the stylist and give it to the assistant?


    Kristina does the Internets

  18. says

    I have a stylist whose work I LOVE. Her prices are very fair, she’s the only stylist I’ve ever had who can deal with my super thick hair. I’ve been with her for 10 years. Here’s the problem – I love her work, but am so weary of her personal drama. There’s salon drama, boyfriend drama, kid drama, on and on it goes. I am a busy mom to 4 kids. Salon time is MY time to relax, how do I get her to stop talking? I know she thinks of me as a friend, b/c she’s done my hair for so long. But it’s too much. Suggestions?

  19. says

    Great video. I have always tipped well (20-30%), but I never knew how that compared, or if they expected more, etc. I especially liked the breaking up points too. I have had a really hard time finding someone who I LOVE to do my hair. I don’t know if I have a hard hair type or if I’m just picky and want my hair to do impossible things! Anyway, thanks again!

  20. says

    I never realized how awkward breaking up with your stylist was until I had to do it myself. Before, I’d always just moved locations from my current stylist (high school–>college–>grown up–>etc) I started out happy with my stylist at a big salon. The customer service was great, they served you espresso, the music was awesome and the stylists were hot with great hair. But they had their proprietary product. And my stylist was constantly trying to up-sell the product. I tried a few of their products at first, mostly out of politeness, but I was really committed to my favorite shampoo/conditioner & products. So after awhile I’d just say “I’m good, thanks” when he tried to sell me whatever seven products he used on my hair. He must have become frustrated because he tried a new tactic after awhile. He started basically insulting my hair, telling me it was dry, the ends were ‘nasty’ etc. I hadn’t changed my routine in the two years I’d been seeing him. Turns out he was trying to sell me a deep conditioner that was on special that season. So I decided that, although nice and trendy, this salon and stylist were not a good fit for me. So I broke up with him…by just not booking a next appointment. Now I am happily seeing a stylist that owns her small salon, listens to what I say over a cup of tea, and happily buys me whatever product I want with whatever discount she can get. It’s been almost 6 months and I’m wondering if I should send him a note? Like, ‘hey it was good until it wasn’t’ Should I tell him the honest truth that his sales tactics totally turned me off? Or just leave it and let bygones be bygones…

  21. says

    Would it be too awkward to ask the stylist if they do private cut and colors in either their own home or the client’s home? I’m curious to see if the price would be reduced, so the stylist doesn’t have to have a fraction of their service go to the salon?

  22. says

    Kate- in your opinion, what is the etiquette for stylists who are one woman shows out of their HOME. Do you tip them as well? Before I started going to my hair cutter I did some research on the etiquette of in home stylists and the strong opinion was that no, you don’t tip then unless it’s above and beyond. I certainly always want to be graciously generous but the subject seemed a little grey?? Appreciate your thoughts!

  23. says

    I’d also love to hear more about rising prices, I have no problem with a price increase when it comes to cuts and color (we all get raises with more experience). But, I like to go get a trim (I’m talking 1/4 an inch) off the ends religiously every 5-6 weeks and the price is the same as if I was getting a major cut so when it last increased, I decided to break up with my stylist…

  24. says

    It’s sad that you guys Stateside rely on tips for a lot of your income. I get completely lost with the idea as it’s just not done here in Australia. Everyone’s on fairly decent salaries. There’s sometimes a tip jar at the reception desk but most folks here treat it like somewhere to pop their loose change.

    What I really have trouble with is communicating exactly what I want to my stylists. I don’t usually see the same one. More often than not, stylists move around here a lot so you can’t just keep going back to the same person over and over for years. I generally like long layers at the back and layers starting at chin-length at the front to frame face a bit. You can tell this to 20 different stylists and you will end up with something completely different each time. How do I get them to be able to do the same thing each time?

  25. says

    Thanks for this video, Kate! I like to hear things from the stylist’s point of view. Still searching for my perfect person. I wish you were my stylist!! :)

    xo Rachael

  26. says

    Definitely looking forward to the “really effective appointment” video. I guess I must be doing something right because I can’t remember the last time I had a haircut or color I didn’t like, but there’s there’s always something to learn! Also – how do you know if your salon is a booth rental situation, or a salon that employs the stylist? (I mean, it’s hard to tell what that looks like.)

  27. says

    I get very long extensions, they are 1500 bucks every 6 months. I normally just tip 10 bucks, just every time I see her. I am a grad student so money is tight, but my hair is so fine, I dont like going out of the house with out extensions or a hat. I see her in between new extensions every 4 weeks, for a 30 dollar tidy up, where I tip 10 bucks as well. Am I a jerk, for not giving a 375 dollar tip when I get my extensions done :( I never thought it was expected, none the less 25%, I couldnt afford to pay 1875 every six months on hair.

  28. says

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  29. Kelly says

    I really like your video. I am wondering though, I am going to get extensions for the first time in over 20 years. This time, I am prepaying $530 for the hair, and then $240 for the application. Should I tip 20% of the total, $770.00? I am happy to do that, I just don’t want to over or under tip. Thanks so much!

    • Sarah says

      Kate-do you read old comments? I am wanting to know the answer to this same question! Is 20% still expected after something like extensions? Thanks!

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