Tipping etiquette if price is based on stylist level and hair length?
August 24, 2022 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to know tipping etiquette in a salon that has prices based on both stylist level and hair length, where a tip is accepted in cash only.

In this salon, there are different levels of stylist, based on their experience. There are also different prices depending on the length of hair.

For example a level 1 stylist and short hair would be 37$, a level 6 stylist and short hair would be 72$. Medium and long hair are more expensive.

I think the cash-only tip when payment is accepted by credit card means it is unlikely the stylists are pooling tips, but I don't know for sure. If I tip by the percent of the price, or by a flat rate linked to the price, it seems somehow inequitable to the different levels of stylist, but I'm not sure if it is, nor how to determine tip otherwise!

Please help me overthink tipping etiquette in this scenario?

You can assume that a tip is expected, though not explicitly required, and that in this scenario I am someone who choses to tip.
posted by narcissus_and_ambrosia to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
I have never known hair stylists to pool tips, so I'd go for 20% of the actual cost of your cut.
posted by tristeza at 1:26 PM on August 24, 2022 [4 favorites]

I don't think hair stylists generally pool tips. They are usually independent contractors renting a chair rather than employees of the salon. So...20% is good.
posted by praemunire at 1:32 PM on August 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So what you are thinking is that someone who does a $50 haircut and someone who does a $100 haircut deserve the same tip since the labor is the similar but the skill level is different? I never thought of it that way but I could see the case. You could figure out what you'd tip on the fanciest haircut that you would realistically get and then tip that much regardless.

I guess for me I tip between 20 and 25% most of the time but tip ~30% either for cheap "clean-up" trims that are not billed at the full rate or for unusual amount of effort, like when I got my long hair cut short. If I went to a salon where most services were $50 and I got a $20 service, I would boost the tip somewhat on the theory that there was an opportunity cost to doing my cheaper thing.
posted by Frowner at 2:40 PM on August 24, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The general expectation I have seen is that your tip is going solely to your stylist and is usually based on a percentage of your cut. What the other stylists make isn’t typically factored in, though I’m sure your stylist would not object if you wanted to tip them based on the most expensive stylist’s prices!

it’s been a while since I went to a salon where there’s a separate person doing hair washing, but I’m guessing there is still an expectation for a small tip for that person as well, and I would expect that to be flat across all stylists rather than varying according to who they’re assisting.
posted by Stacey at 2:54 PM on August 24, 2022

Best answer: I tend to tip my hairdresser $20 more or less regardless of the cost of the cut, which has ranged from $40 to $80. I also get my hair cut about every 18 months, so it's an occasional expense.
posted by vunder at 6:24 PM on August 24, 2022

20% of the final cost of cut is standard. Salons don't pool tips.
posted by nayantara at 7:58 PM on August 24, 2022

When I used to get my hair cut in a fancy(-ish) salon, I asked explicitly about the tipping situation. The standard they suggested was that I should tip in the same way as if I were tipping on a restaurant bill. I took this to mean that: a) the tip should be calculated as a percentage of the bill, and b) the percentage should be roughly whatever I would normally do at a restaurant (i.e.: they did not prescribe a specific percentage, leaving it up to the customer to decide, but put it in the same realm as restaurants).
posted by mhum at 10:00 PM on August 24, 2022

Response by poster: Frowner, that is exactly what I was wondering, as it is the first time I had the situation where there were different payments for the same task, and so hadn't thought about it before.

I'm the same as vunder, this is a very occasional experience, every few years rather than months, so the expectations and etiquette might change between visits too.

Thank you all! Interesting ways of considering it.
posted by narcissus_and_ambrosia at 7:14 AM on August 25, 2022

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