Cosmopolitan December 18, 2020



How Much You Should Tip Your Hairdresser for a Cut, Trim, or Color


Your foolproof guide to tipping for *every* salon service.

Picture this: You’re settling up for your service at the front desk of the hair salon when you spot the little gratuity envelopes, and instant panic sets in. How much should you tip your hairdresser? Should you also tip the same amount to the assistant who did your shampoo? What about the owner of the salon? Do you just run out of there and hope you never see anyone again??? If this sounds like your thought process every time you go to get your hair done, let us help you out. Because we, too, have been stuck nervously sweating while trying to do math in our heads and wondering if we’re leaving enough. To clear things up, we turned to Leigh Hardges, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, for a hairstylist’s perspective on how much to tip hairdressers.

Ahead, the ultimate guide to salon gratuity, whether you're getting a whole head of highlights, a bang trim, or any other type of hair service. Read it before your next appointment and show up fully prepared—and equipped with cash.

Why do we tip hairdressers?

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, sanitize the station, maybe even offer you free drinks, and depending on how long the service lasts, your small talk could turn into a full-on therapy session. Tipping your hairdresser is a way to show how much you appreciate their services but also the relationship and their time. And who knows, it might even make your stylist more willing to work with you if you ever need a hair favor down the road.

How much do you tip for hair color?

First things first, tips are a hundred percent up to your own discretion. While tips are absolutely encouraged, they aren’t exactly mandatory. That said, Hardges says that the general rule of thumb when it comes to tipping your hairdresser is at least 20 percent if you're pleased with all aspects of your service—whether you got a major haircut, a basic trim, or a blowout. That means if your haircut cost $60, your tip should probably be $12 or more. And remember: Salon assistants (rather than your actual hairstylist) usually shampoo and condition your hair, so ask the receptionist how tips are divided to make sure the assistants are getting a cut. If they’re not, Hardges says it’s common to tip them $5 to $10, depending on your service.

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, generally, 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 that can be a little—for lack of a better word—needy. Hardges says if you know you can be particularly difficult, are constantly running late, ask to get squeezed in, or change your service last minute, it’s recommended to tip slightly more for the inconveniences when your stylist accommodates you.

Do you tip when they fix your hair?

But 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?

Ah, the age-old debate: How much do you tip your hairstylist for free (or quick!) services like a bang trim? As with any tip, there’s no set rule—but it’s always good to remember that even though your service might have taken your stylist 10 minutes, that’s still 10 minutes out of their schedule, so tipping $5 to $10 is always a nice gesture.

BTW: Not all salons accept credit/debit cards for gratuity, so it’s always smart to stop at the ATM before your appointment (0r 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. Also an option (especially during COVID-19): Tipping your stylist via Venmo or PayPal.

Wait—do you tip hair salon owners too?

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, if the salon owner was also your hairstylist, they should still be tipped at least 20 percent (just because they’re the owner doesn’t mean they don’t deserve and won’t appreciate a tip for their services).

Should I give my hairdresser a holiday tip?

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 this, obvi, but it never hurts to throw a little extra love (and $$$) their way during the holidays—or, TBH, whenever you can.


Even though tipping is completely personal, it doesn’t have to be weird or awkward. General rule: Tip your hairdresser 20 percent, but if you can/want to go higher, by all means, do. Just remember that no one is expecting anything—how you tip is up to you and your relationship with the stylist.