We’ve all been there: You’re sitting in the salon chair with your fresh silk press, or voluminous blowout, or bright-blonde balayage, ready to take on the world…until you walk yourself over to pay and realize you have no idea how much to tip a hairdresser. And I get it—it can be complicated af, and also brings up a wave of other questions, like is it rude to not tip my hairdresser? And what if I can’t afford to tip my hairdresser? And how much is too much?
So to help you out of your panic spiral, I chatted with hairstylist Leigh Hardges about how much to tip a hairdresser, why it’s so important that you do tip your stylist, and more. So before you make your next hair appointment—or, like, while you're in the middle of getting your hair cut and colored—keep reading.
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How much do you tip a hairdresser in 2023?
Generally, you should tip a hairdresser 20 percent if you’re happy with all aspects of your service, says Hodges. So whether you get a basic trim, a blowout, a major color change (like the super-trendy blue hair you’ve been saving on IG), 20 percent is the rule of thumb. Here’s a simple guide if quick math also isn’t your strong suit:
- $25 service = $5 tip
- $50 service = $10 tip
- $100 service = $20 tip
- $150 service = $30 tip
- $200 service = $40 tip
- $300 service = $60 tip
When it comes to hair color, though, it’s always nice to keep in mind how many hours you spent at the salon. Hardges says in general, salons will charge accordingly if it's a longer service, so the 20 percent rule should suffice. But IMO, if your hairstylist is spending more than three hours adding highlights, bleaching your strands, or dyeing your hair, you should consider tipping closer to 22 or 25 percent—especially if you love the end result.
And although 20 percent is generally a good guideline, you might consider tipping a bit more if you’re a client who can be a little...particular. Hardges says if you know you're a client who can be especially specific or scrutinizing, or if you're running late, or you ask to get squeezed in at the last minute, it’s recommended that you tip slightly more than 20 percent—think: 25 percent—for the inconveniences (hey, it's still a business!).
What if you can’t afford to tip your hairdresser?
If you can’t afford to tip your hairdresser the usual 20 percent, remember that every little bit counts. Consider tipping 10 to 15 percent and saving up to give them a bigger tip around the holidays or a small gift for their birthday. But head’s up: Tipping is customary, so think of your full amount you owe as your service cost plus tip, which might help you save up when it comes time for your appointment.
Should I tip a hairdresser even if I don’t like my hair?
You should still leave a tip, even if you don’t like your hair (granted tipping is, of course, not mandatory). Think of 20 percent as the marker of a great service, so you could tip 18 or 15 percent if you weren’t totally pleased. Ideally, though, you would tell your hairstylist before you check out what you don’t like about your cut or color so they can potentially fix whatever you don’t like. And in that case, you come out with hair you love, and you should probably tip the stylist the standard 20 percent.
Why do we tip hairdressers?
We tip hairdressers as a way to show how much you appreciate their services but also the relationship and their time. Think about it—your hairstylist does sooo much more for you than just cut, color, or style your hair. They go out of their way to make you comfortable, offer you a drink, sanitize the station (something that's especially important at hair salons during COVID times and flu season), and potentially act as a makeshift therapist, depending on your relationship.
Is it rude to not tip a hairstylist?
Eh, it’s a little rude to not tip your hairstylist if you were pleased with your service. Don’t get me wrong: Tipping is totally up to your discretion, and it’s not mandatory. But it is highly encouraged and considered standard practice. Similar to servers and workers in the restaurant industry, a lot of stylists and colorists make the majority of their living off of tips and not a low hourly wage, so it's important to keep that in mind when booking your appointment.
Do you tip a hairdresser’s assistant?
Yes, you should also try to tip a hairdresser’s assistant if they shampooed, conditioned, smoothed on your gloss or color glaze, etc. You can ask the receptionist how tips are divided to make sure the assistants are getting a cut, or you could tip them $5 to $10 (depending on your service) individually, says Hardges. Think about it: They had a part in the end result of your new ‘do, so they deserve a lil appreciation for their time too.
Should I tip my hairdresser in cash?
You don't have to, but not all salons accept credit/debit cards for gratuity, so it’s always smart to stop at the ATM before your appointment (or call ahead and ask). I can’t even count the number of times I’ve forgotten cash and had to make an extra trip back to the salon to pay my stylist—it’s not fun, y’all. If you're tipping with cash, either hand your $ directly to your hairdresser or write their name on one of those tiny envelopes at the front desk and drop it in there. Also an option (especially during COVID times): Tipping your stylist via Venmo or PayPal, if the salon allows.
Do you tip when they fix your hair?
Nope, you generally don’t have to tip if you’re just coming back to fix a mistake. The whole idea of tipping based on inconvenience works both ways. If you as the client have to go out of your way and back to the salon to fix something that should have been done during the original appointment, Hardges says tipping isn’t necessary. “When I am fixing a mistake I made, I don't expect a tip and will in most cases refuse the tip,” Hardges says.
Should you tip for a free bang trim?
It’s a nice gesture to tip for a free bang trim—anywhere from $5 to $10 is good, but of course, there’s no set rule on tipping for free services. Your stylist still took 10 to 15 minutes out of their schedule though. So it’s always a nice way to thank them for finally getting your bangs out of your eyes again.
Do you tip hair salon owners?
Again, it’s totally up to you, but if you are super jazzed about your haircut/color and really loved the salon experience, it never hurts to throw in an extra tip for the salon owner. And, yes, you should still tip the salon owner at least 20 percent if they were your hairstylist (just because they’re the owner doesn’t mean they don’t deserve and won’t appreciate a tip for their services).
What is the proper amount to tip your hairdresser at Christmas?
You can probs guess my answer (are you sensing a theme here?!), but again, there’s no right or wrong way to tip your hairdresser for the holidays. If, for example, you see your hairstylist every single month, it’s a super-nice gesture to throw them an extra tip—say, 30 percent instead of 20 percent—for the holidays (kinda like a lil' thank-you for an entire year’s worth of services). Stylists don’t expect or require a holiday tip, of course, but it never hurts to throw a little extra love (and $$$) their way during the holidays—or, TBH, whenever you can.
Make sure to always leave a tip in the ball-park of 20 percent whenever you see your stylist. Is it necessary? Not exactly, but it’s an important way to show appreciation to your hairdresser for all the hard work they do to keep your hair lookin’ good. I mean, they’re the reason you have healthy, trimmed hair that’s not brassy. And that, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.
Meet the experts:
- Leigh Hardges is a hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, IL. She specializes in haircutting, especially type 3 and type 4 hair.
Why trust Cosmopolitan?
Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan with four years of experience researching, writing, and editing hair stories that range from best deep conditioner to best hair straightener. She’s an authority in all hair categories, but is an expert when it comes to how much to tip a hairdresser after gathering intel from dozens of hairstylists over the years.
Lauren Balsamo is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan with almost 10 years of experience researching, writing, and editing skin, makeup, hair, and nail stories across print and digital, including the best hairsprays and leave-in conditioners. She spoke with experts about how much to tip a hairdresser.
Ruby Buddemeyer was the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan for nearly three years, and has five years of experience writing about beauty, particularly hair stories, like the best travel hair dryers and the best round brushes. She wrote about how much to tip a hairdresser after researching and speaking with experts.
Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers skincare, makeup, hair, nails, and more across digital and print. She can generally be found in bright eyeshadow furiously typing her latest feature or hemming and hawing about a new product you "have to try." Prior to Cosmopolitan, she wrote and edited beauty content as an Editor at The Everygirl for four years. Follow her on Instagram for makeup selfies and a new hair 'do every few months.
Deputy Beauty Director
Lauren Balsamo is deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, where she writes, edits, and produces all types of beauty content—from product reviews to personal essays and trend reports. She has covered beauty for nine years at Cosmopolitan and has contributed to Women’s Health and Seventeen magazines as well. Follow her on Instagram.
Ruby was the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covered beauty across print and digital. Her work has appeared on The Zoe Report, Fashionista, and StyleCaster. Follow her on Instagram.