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An appropriate tip for a hairstylist depends on several factors. Did someone other than the hairstylist shampoo your hair for example? Did the work take several hours? Did you have a manicure or wax at the same time, by other workers in the salon?
In general, a simple haircut by one person, or a wash and cut, usually requires a gratuity of 10-15%. However, if some of the work is farmed out to other people, such as shampooing, the gratuity should be closer to the 10% mark. One tips someone shampooing the hair between one to two US dollars (USD). The larger amount is better when the person shampooing your hair doesn’t dribble water down your back or seem excessively rough.
Generally the gratuity to the shampoo-person should be given in cash, so it is a good idea to carry a few extra ones for this purpose. Conversely, a gratuity to a stylist can often be added to the bill if one is using a check or credit card for payment.
A manicurist or someone who performs a wax is generally tipped between 10-20%. A quick touch up on the nails is usually worth about two USD. A longer manicure or pedicure done professionally should probably receive a gratuity that represents 20% of the bill.
If the end result of a haircut, color or perm is a disaster, it is not necessary to leave a gratuity. Ultimately one is tipping on the person’s competence as well as the stylist’s sociable nature and fair treatment. When a stylist has produced a look that falls well short of the mark in competency, it may also be a good idea to ask for one’s money back, as well as neglecting the gratuity. In some haircut only salons, service comes with a money-back guarantee.
Hairstylists who work at higher end salons tend to expect a larger gratuity. When the work is well done, a 20% gratuity is usually acceptable. If one cannot budget for such a tip, then it might be better to consider a hairstylist who charges slightly less.
Generally, one does not tip the owner of a salon. If you are unsure about who owns the salon, you can ask your stylist. Such details normally emerge in conversation with one’s stylist. However, a gratuity may be acceptable to the proprietor of a new salon, who is attempting to maintain a successful business. The gratuity may be distributed among employees at the proprietor’s discretion. Alternately, the new owner who is short on cash might keep the tip.
When a stylist does a great job on one’s hair, a gratuity should reflect one’s satisfaction with the work. Therefore, consider at least a 15-20% tip of the total bill when a stylist has done an excellent job. Such a gratuity will likely make one a welcome customer to the stylist in the future.