Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Ladies: Tipping at Hair Salons

 

Let me start by saying I paid my way through college by waitressing tables. I understand this job and I tip waitstaff very well. I also tip waitstaff based on the quality of the service I receive. If it’s really exceptional, an exceptional tip is given. If service is just okay, I’ll still tip, but there’s a quality scale. Many in modern society feel TIPS are meant “to insure prompt service”, after all. If that’s not what I got, then I’m not paying as much.

Do I resent tipping at restaurants? No.

This is in part because I know that waitstaff would not even make minimum wage without tips because compensation is driven by gratuity. (I think I made $2.01 per hour for years, which created a check from which the government could easily deduct taxes for my tip income.)

I also understand why waitstaff get a lot more per a large check in a fine dining establishment. That’s because their tables don’t roll quickly like they do in a diner. (I’ve worked in both sorts of restaurants so I am super familiar with the different workloads.) Also, the waitstaff at a fine dining place will tip out bartenders and busboys to ensure they get the help they need to fill the drinks of those twenty business people at one table who are all on expense accounts while attending a convention.

It’s a whole system, and I know how it works, so I don’t mind the system.

But now there are many other places that “require” tipping that I’m going to admit are making me resentful, and I don’t even know the logic as every coffee joint and sandwich place seems to have a tip jar by the cash register.

Call me cheap, but I think the “service” is baked into the $7 latte, right? If I order at a counter and have to go back to a soda fountain to fill my own drink, why should I give a tip? Because someone gave me the food that was being sold like they do every day at McDonald’s?

Those sorts of employees make a regular wage, unlike waitstaff, so the tips don’t serve the same purpose.

But here’s the kicker, and I think this one impacts women more than men. (This is not because men don’t go to salons, but women are often charged more at salons because we have more hair and more complicated services.)

How much do you tip at a salon? 

Per an article I just read for guidance, the tip should always be %20 on the service.

Okay.

Well, I just got my hair colored and cut last night. This was $255 plus an additional $20 for more hair dye because, apparently, my hair is “thirsty” and absorbed the color quickly. That left me with a tab of $275.

The service took about 2 1/2 hours with thirty minutes of that involving me sitting there with the dye on my hair.

Many stylists at upscale salons are paid half the ticket, so that means my stylist theoretically made $137.50 before tip.

I am not going to count the thirty minutes I sat in a chair because someone could give someone else a haircut in that timeframe, so the stylist was working for me for two hours. She, therefore, theoretically made $68.75 per hour before tip.

Now I add $55 to the tab per the %20 rule. The stylist then made $96.25 per hour.

I understand being a good hairstylist requires skill, but I have two masters degrees, and I do not make anywhere near that kind of cash.

You may say, “Go to a cheaper salon!” But I live in a city in which this is what it costs to have one’s hair colored, and that’s really not the point.

If I paid $100 for the service, I’d probably feel a lot better about the %20, but it takes the same amount of time to color my hair in an upscale salon or a place in the mall, so why is this tip based on a percentage? (As I said, there really is a difference in fine dining versus greasy spoon.)

Am I being ridiculous here?

I do understand that some stylists do not get half of their tickets. They work for a base salary and then get tips, but I am still paying a pretty hefty fee for the time in the salon, whoever gets the cash-ola.

I also know the margins on food in restaurants is very small, so that’s why the compensation structure for waitstaff is set up the way that it is set up.

Is that really the case in a salon when I used to dye my own hair for $20 per the box I got from the grocery store?

What do you all think is actually reasonable to pay at a salon apart from what “etiquette experts” say. (Apparently, you should tip more than 20% at Christmas!!!)

Does anyone know how this industry works that would make me feel less like I’m just getting ripped off?

Currently, I let my roots often grow out to the point that I sometimes look like a secretary in a house of ill repute mostly because I dread standing at a cash register doing mental math and feeling resentful because it seems I’ve already paid a lot for what I’ve gotten, and they always want more.

Kinda like the government.

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  1. Seawriter Member

    I am so glad I am a guy.

    $5/haircut at a shop within walking distance of my house. I tip $2.00 and still feel a little guilty about the low price. 

    • #1
    • February 17, 2020, at 9:51 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  2. JustmeinAZ Member

    Well, I live in a small town where the prices are a LOT lower. I’ve been going to my hairdresser, who is excellent, and she did not raise her prices (she is an independent contractor) for 15 years. I pay $35 for a wash, cut and blow dry, and $85 for a perm (this was before chemo made me bald, ha, ha). I have never minded tipping her 20%. When I needed my head shaved she did not charge me at all. 

    My nail tech charges $35 for an acrylic fill and gel polish and I go more often – every two weeks. I also tip her 20%. I resent this one a little more but this is what is done so I go with the flow. 

    I give both the price of one service at Christmas.

    If I lived where these services cost a lot more I think I would learn to live without!

    • #2
    • February 17, 2020, at 10:05 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    Gray and white hair are beautiful. In fact, some young women were dying their hair gray.

    • #3
    • February 17, 2020, at 10:12 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  4. Vectorman Thatcher

    I stopped going to barbers because they required reservations. My wife goes to a hair cut / salon that doesn’t require reservations and cuts men’s hair too. The total with 20% tip is less than $20.00. The salon actually charges more for reservations, so the stylist gets more money this way.

    • #4
    • February 17, 2020, at 10:28 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Tree Rat Member

    Way back when I was a mere tad, I remember the barber charged $0.75 for a haircut. It is remotely possible that my aunt would round up to $1.00 but, knowing my family of the times, I wouldn’t risk even a quarter on the proposition.

    Now I patronize whichever barbershop/salon is having a promotional sale or issuing discount coupons. The value of the coupon is the value of the tip, often enough.

    Did I mention that early in life I decided that — since I expected to be bald like my father and brother — I would NOT CARE about my hair. Since caring about your hair is a leading cause of baldness*, I have not gone bald. Yet. Who knows, it still could happen. Best not to start caring just yet.

    *citation not needed.

    • #5
    • February 17, 2020, at 10:46 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  6. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    Well, I live in a small town where the prices are a LOT lower. I’ve been going to my hairdresser, who is excellent, and she did not raise her prices (she is an independent contractor) for 15 years. I pay $35 for a wash, cut and blow dry, and $85 for a perm (this was before chemo made me bald, ha, ha). I have never minded tipping her 20%. When I needed my head shaved she did not charge me at all.

    My nail tech charges $35 for an acrylic fill and gel polish and I go more often – every two weeks. I also tip her 20%. I resent this one a little more but this is what is done so I go with the flow.

    I give both the price of one service at Christmas.

    If I lived where these services cost a lot more I think I would learn to live without!

    I never resented the tips until the base prices became astronomical. I hope you are in recovery?

    • #6
    • February 17, 2020, at 11:10 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gray and white hair are beautiful. In fact, some young women were dying their hair gray.

    I think white hair can be gorgeous, but you need the right complexion. I look like a vampire with black and old with white.

    • #7
    • February 17, 2020, at 11:11 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. EODmom Coolidge

    I’ve lived in 3 different major areas after school when I started having my hair “done.” As I’ve gotten older, “done” requires more care and attention but having crazy curls, I’ll walk over glass to have the same competent, careful stylist do my cutting and coloring. The pay scales differ substantially between Silicon Valley and Seacoast NH, but I’ve applied the same approach to each stylist I’ve used – there for 25 years and here for 10. I’ve been lucky since Houston when I had a lot of really bad haircuts.

    In CA Simone changed salons where she rented stations and paid her own assistant, bought and sold salons where she had employees and finally had her own salon with no employees. Her rate structure was comparable to others in the area and she only increased them when she started getting oversubscribed and wanted to cut her demand. (I know – it’s a strange concept but Silicon Valley.) Here Paula has had her own salon in her home and now is part of a co-op salon. She changed the hair color she usually used to the (more expensive) one I like and follows the formula I came in with. Boy can she cut curly hair! Her rates are really low by comparison and her work is almost as fine as Simone’s, who everyone acknowledged was in a class of her own when it came to color.

    I don’t tip the owner of a salons when they do the work, but do tip the assistants directly in cash. Paula doesn’t have an assistant and does all her own stuff and I just decided to pay her what I thought she was worth. Every once in awhile she will say I make her feel special, but I try to recognize that she makes a difference for me, maybe not life changing, but a difference. Her family doesn’t drink alcohol so at Christmas I order Louisiana naval oranges for them and bring them some wonderful cupcakes made by a local cupcakes. It all seems to work out for me.

    • #8
    • February 17, 2020, at 11:11 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  9. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    I am so glad I am a guy.

    $5/haircut at a shop within walking distance of my house. I tip $2.00 and still feel a little guilty about the low price.

    I do not feel women are oppressed in any way in our society, but the cost of some goods/services are automatically higher. It makes sense with hair, but my blouses cost more than my husband’s shirts at the dry cleaners, and I can’t explain that one at all.

    • #9
    • February 17, 2020, at 11:14 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  10. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    EODmom (View Comment):

    I’ve lived in 3 different major areas after school when I started having my hair “done.” As I’ve gotten older, “done” requires more care and attention but having crazy curls, I’ll walk over glass to have the same competent, careful stylist do my cutting and coloring. The pay scales differ substantially between Silicon Valley and Seacoast NH, but I’ve applied the same approach to each stylist I’ve used – there for 25 years and here for 10. I’ve been lucky since Houston when I had a lot of really bad haircuts.

    In CA Simone changed salons where she rented stations and paid her own assistant, bought and sold salons where she had employees and finally had her own salon with no employees. Her rate structure was comparable to others in the area and she only increased them when she started getting oversubscribed and wanted to cut her demand. (I know – it’s a strange concept but Silicon Valley.) Here Paula has had her own salon in her home and now is part of a co-op salon. She changed the hair color she usually used to the (more expensive) one I like and follows the formula I came in with. Boy can she cut curly hair! Her rates are really low by comparison and her work is almost as fine as Simone’s, who everyone acknowledged was in a class of her own when it came to color.

    I don’t tip the owner of a salons when they do the work, but do tip the assistants directly in cash. Paula doesn’t have an assistant and does all her own stuff and I just decided to pay her what I thought she was worth. Every once in awhile she will say I make her feel special, but I try to recognize that she makes a difference for me, maybe not life changing, but a difference. Her family doesn’t drink alcohol so at Christmas I order Louisiana naval oranges for them and bring them some wonderful cupcakes made by a local cupcakes. It all seems to work out for me.

    But what rates are we talking? Obviously, CA is higher, but do you apply a percentage for the assistant?

    I agree a good stylist is great. Perhaps I’m a little bit bothered today as well because I tried someone new, and my bangs look like they were cut by a toddler…. A very expensive toddler.

    I absolutely would not resent a stylist upping a fee to slow her own demand or just saying…. yeah, this costs this. I just hate the tips at salons.

    • #10
    • February 17, 2020, at 11:27 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Old Buckeye Member

    How do the percentages differ when the owner is cutting your hair? I see @EODmom mentions that she doesn’t tip the owner at all. 

    I shell out $65 for a cut, so I only add a small tip–more like 10%–but it’s the salon owner who cuts my hair. I know I’ll be back in 5-6 weeks, so I don’t want to be a real tightwad, but still….I think the amortized cost of hair maintenance is high! 

    The places that really throw me for a loop are the ultra-swanky ones where someone other than the stylist shampoos you, or blows dry your hair, etc. I have been a nervous wreck in places like that, not knowing who to give what to. 

     

    • #11
    • February 17, 2020, at 11:47 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    @arahant, this one’s for you! I did this post yesterday, on a whim.

    https://rushbabe49.com/2020/02/15/thought-experiment/

     

    I have silver hair, and I love it. I used to call it my “wire brush”, but as I’ve gotten older its texture is becoming less wiry. Ray and I used to go to the same hairdresser, who he had used for a very long time, following her from salon to salon when she moved. She eventually went solo, and had her salon in her home, and we went about 70 miles round trip for our haircuts. I paid her $75 with no tip, and she was happy. Now that she is no longer cutting hair, we both go to a local place, and the same lady. She charges me $50 and I always give her $5 tip (not a lot, I admit). It’s worth it.

    • #12
    • February 17, 2020, at 11:52 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. OldPhil Coolidge

    My wife is charged $75 for her monthly wash, dye and cut. She gives the hairdresser $90, a 20% tip, even though she’s the owner, too. At Christmas, I think she gives her $100. 

    At the barber, it costs me $9 for the senior discount and I leave a $3 tip. Of course, it only takes about 5 minutes to deal with what’s left up there. I enjoy it when I get the funny Chinese lady, she tells some good jokes.

    • #13
    • February 17, 2020, at 11:53 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. Seawriter Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    I am so glad I am a guy.

    $5/haircut at a shop within walking distance of my house. I tip $2.00 and still feel a little guilty about the low price.

    I do not feel women are oppressed in any way in our society, but the cost of some goods/services are automatically higher. It makes sense with hair, but my blouses cost more than my husband’s shirts at the dry cleaners, and I can’t explain that one at all.

    Don’t know about dry cleaning shirts, as I launder all mine at home. The whole male hair-care scene is just so much simpler than for women. I just go in for a hair cut that gets done in 15 minutes, if I pick the right time to drop in and there is no wait. No coloring, washing, perming – just shorten the hair so it looks neat. Gives me more time for the rest of the day.

    • #14
    • February 17, 2020, at 12:03 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):

    How do the percentages differ when the owner is cutting your hair? I see @EODmom mentions that she doesn’t tip the owner at all.

    I shell out $65 for a cut, so I only add a small tip–more like 10%–but it’s the salon owner who cuts my hair. I know I’ll be back in 5-6 weeks, so I don’t want to be a real tightwad, but still….I think the amortized cost of hair maintenance is high!

    The places that really throw me for a loop are the ultra-swanky ones where someone other than the stylist shampoos you, or blows dry your hair, etc. I have been a nervous wreck in places like that, not knowing who to give what to.

    I feel the same about the shampoo girl. The article I found online says you give a flat %20, and I suppose the stylist works it out like the waitstaff works out the bartender.

    However, I had a friend whose daughter did this in a salon when she was in high school, and people slipped her fives, so I’m left confused again and just hating the whole system.

    • #15
    • February 17, 2020, at 12:04 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    No one seems to have to pay as much as me! We are moving to a smaller town per work soon. Perhaps a big benefit will be cheaper hair salons! Then I’ll feel like I’m saving, even if I tip the same. But… come to think of it… I did not pay these prices in Atlanta. Just here. So now I’m thinking maybe everything is just bigger in Texas???? :)

    • #16
    • February 17, 2020, at 12:10 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    @arahant, this one’s for you! I did this post yesterday, on a whim.

    https://rushbabe49.com/2020/02/15/thought-experiment/

     

    I have silver hair, and I love it. I used to call it my “wire brush”, but as I’ve gotten older its texture is becoming less wiry. Ray and I used to go to the same hairdresser, who he had used for a very long time, following her from salon to salon when she moved. She eventually went solo, and had her salon in her home, and we went about 70 miles round trip for our haircuts. I paid her $75 with no tip, and she was happy. Now that she is no longer cutting hair, we both go to a local place, and the same lady. She charges me $50 and I always give her $5 tip (not a lot, I admit). It’s worth it.

    I assume that’s you in the picture at the top. You’ve got the right complexion for white hair. I think it can be gorgeous with the proper skin tones.

    • #17
    • February 17, 2020, at 12:13 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    I am so glad I am a guy.

    $5/haircut at a shop within walking distance of my house. I tip $2.00 and still feel a little guilty about the low price.

    I do not feel women are oppressed in any way in our society, but the cost of some goods/services are automatically higher. It makes sense with hair, but my blouses cost more than my husband’s shirts at the dry cleaners, and I can’t explain that one at all.

    Don’t know about dry cleaning shirts, as I launder all mine at home. The whole male hair-care scene is just so much simpler than for women. I just go in for a hair cut that gets done in 15 minutes, if I pick the right time to drop in and there is no wait. No coloring, washing, perming – just shorten the hair so it looks neat. Gives me more time for the rest of the day.

    Women’s hair is more complicated, though some men get into trouble per what they pay if in the public eye.

    Wasn’t it Bill Clinton who had something like a $400 haircut in the 1990s that created a stir?

    It doesn’t matter to me because I’m pretty sure he writes the checks without expensing that sort of thing, but I wonder what Donald Trump pays for haircuts? 

    • #18
    • February 17, 2020, at 12:18 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Seawriter Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I wonder what Donald Trump pays for haircuts? 

    We should ask.

    • #19
    • February 17, 2020, at 12:21 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I wonder what Donald Trump pays for haircuts?

    We should ask.

    Yes.

    You got a good phone number???

    Either way, I hope his tips are yuge! :)

    • #20
    • February 17, 2020, at 12:31 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. Arahant Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    Wasn’t it Bill Clinton who had something like a $400 haircut in the 1990s that created a stir?

    Part of that was because he closed down an airport to do it while AF1 sat on the tarmac.

    • #21
    • February 17, 2020, at 1:16 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  22. Tree Rat Member

    I have heard the shirt thing explained as men’s shirts all fit on a form where they are steamed, but women’s blouses have to be hand-ironed because they are not standardized.

    • #22
    • February 17, 2020, at 1:43 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    but my blouses cost more than my husband’s shirts at the dry cleaners, and I can’t explain that one at all.

    Well, the theory is that they have machine forms they use for men’s shirts and they don’t have them for women. So women’s shirts are more labor intensive. But……. it’s been a long time (decades) since women were only bringing in their Sunday silk blouses, not business shirts. So why don’t they get machine forms for women’s shirts?

    It’s mostly because women (and I’m guilty, too) will pay more than men will for many services.

     

    • #23
    • February 17, 2020, at 2:13 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. EB Thatcher
    EB

    The other thing about tipping in hair salons is that it has crept over into tipping the owners. At one time, an owner would be insulted if a customer tipped them. They are the owner!! Not an employee. No more. When I have tipped because I didn’t know who was the owner (and later found out) I have never had an owner turn down a tip.

    • #24
    • February 17, 2020, at 2:18 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. OldPhil Coolidge

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):

    I have heard the shirt thing explained as men’s shirts all fit on a form where they are steamed, but women’s blouses have to be hand-ironed because they are not standardized.

    I meant to say this earlier, but I haven’t been to a dry cleaner in 20+ years.

    • #25
    • February 17, 2020, at 2:45 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. JustmeinAZ Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    Well, I live in a small town where the prices are a LOT lower. I’ve been going to my hairdresser, who is excellent, and she did not raise her prices (she is an independent contractor) for 15 years. I pay $35 for a wash, cut and blow dry, and $85 for a perm (this was before chemo made me bald, ha, ha). I have never minded tipping her 20%. When I needed my head shaved she did not charge me at all.

    My nail tech charges $35 for an acrylic fill and gel polish and I go more often – every two weeks. I also tip her 20%. I resent this one a little more but this is what is done so I go with the flow.

    I give both the price of one service at Christmas.

    If I lived where these services cost a lot more I think I would learn to live without!

    I never resented the tips until the base prices became astronomical. I hope you are in recovery?

    Yes, thank you. I just got an A+ report card from my surgeon today!

    • #26
    • February 17, 2020, at 3:30 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  27. Housebroken Thatcher

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    I am so glad I am a guy.

    $5/haircut at a shop within walking distance of my house. I tip $2.00 and still feel a little guilty about the low price.

    As well you should!

    • #27
    • February 17, 2020, at 4:53 PM PST
    • 1 like
  28. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane

    EB (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    but my blouses cost more than my husband’s shirts at the dry cleaners, and I can’t explain that one at all.

    Well, the theory is that they have machine forms they use for men’s shirts and they don’t have them for women. So women’s shirts are more labor intensive. But……. it’s been a long time (decades) since women were only bringing in their Sunday silk blouses, not business shirts. So why don’t they get machine forms for women’s shirts?

    It’s mostly because women (and I’m guilty, too) will pay more than men will for many services.

     

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):

    I have heard the shirt thing explained as men’s shirts all fit on a form where they are steamed, but women’s blouses have to be hand-ironed because they are not standardized.

    My shirts would be pretty standard, but these are at least reasons… Can anyone explain the more expensive disposable razors? Other than ours are sometimes pink? (I guess we are back to we will pay it? :) )

    • #28
    • February 17, 2020, at 5:03 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  29. Housebroken Thatcher

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    but my blouses cost more than my husband’s shirts at the dry cleaners, and I can’t explain that one at all.

    Well, the theory is that they have machine forms they use for men’s shirts and they don’t have them for women. So women’s shirts are more labor intensive. But……. it’s been a long time (decades) since women were only bringing in their Sunday silk blouses, not business shirts. So why don’t they get machine forms for women’s shirts?

    It’s mostly because women (and I’m guilty, too) will pay more than men will for many services.

     

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):

    I have heard the shirt thing explained as men’s shirts all fit on a form where they are steamed, but women’s blouses have to be hand-ironed because they are not standardized.

    My shirts would be pretty standard, but these are at least reasons… Can anyone explain the more expensive disposable razors? Other than ours are sometimes pink? (I guess we are back to we will pay it? :) )

    No – but I have wondered why men & women don’t just use the same stuff. I’ve been told that women’s hair is more difficult to cut , but never searched for any studies on the matter.

    • #29
    • February 17, 2020, at 5:12 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Wasn’t it Bill Clinton who had something like a $400 haircut in the 1990s that created a stir?

    It doesn’t matter to me because I’m pretty sure he writes the checks without expensing that sort of thing, but I wonder what Donald Trump pays for haircuts? 

    I’m pretty sure the answer is Orange Man Bad.

    • #30
    • February 17, 2020, at 6:22 PM PST
    • 2 likes