Compared with most other countries, Britain seems to have an uneasy relationship with the concept of tipping for good service. We never seem to understand the proper etiquette for tipping, and whilst we might manage to mutter ‘keep the change’ after a taxi ride, or add a grudging 10% to the bill in a restaurant, when it comes to tipping our hair stylist, we often find ourselves at a loss as to how much is expected, when to tip and even who exactly it is that we need to tip.
According to a survey undertaken by professional hair care company, Aveda, the percentages that customers tip vary wildly. The minimum level of tip that most customers give their stylist is 10%, but some go as high as 25%. The majority of customers, however, take a middle ground and tip around 20% of the bill. These figures do vary, though, according to the type and location of the salon. Stylists in more upmarket ones which offer a wider choice of treatments tend to receive much higher tips than those working in budget environments or ‘no appointment necessary’ salons. Those working out of busy salons in metropolitan areas like London, Manchester and Birmingham are more likely to receive more generous tips than stylists located in provincial high streets, which reflects the fact that styling and treatment costs are also much higher in city-centre locations.
When trying to decide what an appropriate percentage is for tipping your hair stylist, it’s important to remember that you are not just rewarding the good service you have just received. You are also trying to build up a strong relationship between the both of you, where he or she gets to know you over time, and can then provide the very best levels of service tailored to your unique requirements. The relationship between client and hairdresser is so personal, and involves such a huge degree of trust and closeness, that it deserves a certain level of investment.
There may also be times when it’s necessary to tip a little more than you might otherwise do. If you turn up late for a pre-booked appointment, for example, or you come with two toddlers in tow, it might be a good idea to tip generously, as a way of saying that you understand that you have asked a lot of your stylist on this occasion. Likewise, if your salon squeezes you in at the last minute for an emergency appointment, it is nice to recognise that they have gone out of their way for you.
Having come to a decision on what percentage you will tip your hairdresser, there are a few other bits of etiquette that have to be tackled. Firstly, most people are unaware that salons do not generally share tips between staff. If you want to tip the junior or hairdressing apprentice who washed and conditioned your hair and then served you a great coffee, you’ll need to do this in addition to tipping your stylist.
The final point to remember is always to tip in cash and not to make the mistake of trying to add a tip onto a card payment, as few salons will have the means to take out the tip element and share it amongst staff.
If we see our stylists as trusted friends who have the skills and creativity to make our hair look fabulous, it makes sense to tip generously. By thinking the whole tipping process through in advance, we can avoid making a mistake or causing embarrassment, and can work towards building a great relationship that works for both parties.