How much should you tip your hairdresser? As a professional stylist, my first answer would be “A lot!” But in reality, our tips run the gamut from non-existent right up to incredibly generous. There are a great many factors which should determine the tip, such as quality of service, professionalism, mastery of technique, and the stylist’s level of experience. Unfortunately, our tips also reflect the shortcomings and inconveniences beyond our control. Was the receptionist rude? Are the service prices too high? Were we out of fresh coffee in the waiting area? Even though the hairstylist has little or no control of these things, it is often reflected in our tips.
Many stylists will agree that when it comes to tips, a good percentage of clients are cheapskates. Either that, or they completely have no understanding of our work or respect for our profession. The age-old unwritten rule of tipping calls for a 15% gratuity for satisfactory service, which translates into $6.00 for a $40.00 haircut. Most clients have no trouble with this, but it is very rare that we get a 15% tip on a more expensive service, such as a $160.00 color correction (a decent tip would be around $24.00).
Here is why we deserve it.
Most restaurant-goers think nothing of leaving a 15% tip for a waitress, and most customers would tip well over six dollars for a $40.00 meal. Yet how much time and personalized attention is given to you by a typical waitress? Thirty seconds to give you the menu, another thirty seconds to take the order, thirty seconds to re-fill your beverage, and thirty seconds to bring you the check. The sum total of the time she spends waiting on you is roughly two minutes, for which you gladly leave a generous tip of, say, ten dollars. So even though the waitress isn’t in the kitchen cooking your food or washing your dirty dishes, you still feel that her labor and training is worth $5.00 per minute.
Now let’s look at your hairstylist, who gives you 100% of his or her attention from the beginning of the service to the end. During your service, the stylist will answer all of your hair-related questions, serve as your personal therapist, make product recommendations, and then provide a highly-skilled service which is the result of years of experience, thousands of hours of training, and many thousands of dollars in beauty school tuition. After an hour for a shampoo, cut, blowdry, and style you leave a very generous tip of ten dollars, the same as you left the waitress who spent only 2 minutes serving you. While the waitress received $5.00 in tips per minute of service, your stylist earned on 17 cents per minute of service.
But I guess that’s fair, since waitresses have to pay back their student loans for waitressing school. Oh wait, that’s right, they don’t have waitress school.
Come to think of it, after your waitress leaves your table, she has the opportunity to service other tables and make even more money. Does your stylist attempt to give haircuts to five clients at the same time? Probably not. So the next time you go to the hair salon, do the right thing and give your hairstylist a nice, big, fat, juicy tip.