Should You Tip the Owner of a Salon?

What to Do If Your Stylist Owns the Salon

Woman having hair done by owner of salon
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For years, advice columns and magazines advised readers to not tip their stylists if the individual owned the salon. Doing so was viewed as a huge etiquette faux pas. But in recent years, that policy has begun to slide. Now, it's increasingly common to tip the salon owner.

The Myth of the Wealthy Salon Owner

When you're paying hundreds of dollars for a cut and color, it's easy to think that a tip is unnecessary. You may assume that your stylist is raking in the money, so a tip just isn't needed. However, the myth of the wealthy salon owner is just that--a myth. While your cut and color may be pricey, the upkeep and overhead costs for a salon are astronomical; it's common for salon owners to be thousands in debt due to business expenses.

In most cases, the cost of a cut and color goes towards paying for supplies and staff. A tip is a way to show your thanks and help your stylist take him a little profit.

Is a Tip Necessary?

A tip is never required, but you may find it is expected. If you do not tip, you may find yourself unable to get an appointment or get easily bumped for someone else. If you do tip, you'll find the stylist goes out of his or her way to make you happy.

If you're unsure if tipping the owner is acceptable, call the salon receptionist. She can tell you if the owner accepts tips or not. Some will tell you frankly that tips are not accepted, while others will tell you that tips are not expected but are certainly appreciated. If it's the latter, plan on tipping.

How Much to Tip at the Salon

Here's the expected tipping breakdown at salons. And remember: no one expects a tip if the service was pointed out to be unsatisfactory.

The stylist: Excellent service is usually 20 percent, good service about 15 percent.

The shampoo person: Subtract from the main stylist's tip about $5 for the person who washes your hair and another $5-$10 for the person who dried it. Some stylists tell me they tip their assistants from their tip money at the end of the day. You can ask your stylist the protocol if you are confused.

Facials, manicures, and makeup applications: These are considered a separate service and it's protocol to tip 15-20 percent for each service separately.

In the end, even the salon owners say that the secret to good business is keeping your customers happy. And if this means they don't always tip or they can't afford to tip but they still want to come to you and even refer their friends to you, then that's worth the stylist's time on your hair.

Essential reading:

  • Do You Really Need That $200 Haircut?
  • Should You Give a Holiday Tip to a Hairstylist?
  • How to Save on Haircuts, Hair Color and Hair Products
  • The Difference Between a $40, $60 and a $160 Haircut in Manhattan

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