I have had many conversations with fellow hair stylists about things at work that frustrate us. Some people are just rude, no doubt. But I also think that maybe a lot of clients aren’t aware of the behavior that is expected in a salon environment. So I pitched the idea of writing a blog post about salon etiquette for clients, and the idea was very well received by both stylists and clients. I asked other hairstylists to tell me what they think they biggest problems in the salon are, and asked clients to tell me what questions they had about what’s expected of them. I boiled it down to the most mentioned points, and hope to cover as much as possible here.
Some of the things that were mentioned to me didn’t feel like they fit under “etiquette” so much as just… tips for a good experience or how to handle certain situations; I plan on writing another post, or more likely a series of posts with more information on how to do things like book appointments, communicate to your stylist what you want, tell your stylist that you are unhappy, and how to find a salon, amongst other things. If your question wasn’t answered here, it probably will be in the future, so keep an eye out!
These points can all vary widely from salon to salon, so if you are unsure about something, talk to the receptionist at your salon of choice. I also want to make it very clear that NONE of this is aimed directly at any of my clients, and there are always special situations and circumstances, so please don’t take offense or take anything personally, it was definitely not intended that way at all! None of these points are meant to attack anyone or make anyone feel uncomfortable. They are meant to make the best experience for you, the client, as well as the salon staff.
So here are some guidelines about salon etiquette. If you have anything constructive and helpful to add, or if you have any questions, please leave a comment!
♥ Show up to your appointment. If you know that you need to reschedule, make sure to call the salon at least 24 hours in advance so that your stylist has a chance to fill your spot. It’s understandable that things come up at the last minute sometimes, but if you cancel at the last minute or don’t show up, you may be charged a fee, especially if you are chronically canceling at the last minute or not showing up to your appointments. Not only does not showing up take money out of your stylist’s pocket and prevent them from being able to fill your spot with someone else who may be trying to get in, but it also says to them that you don’t respect them or their time, and no one likes to feel like that.
♥ Don’t be late. A lot of stylists are on very tight schedules and most likely have another appointment coming in right after you. If you are running late, you should call the salon and let them know that you are on your way. To me, five minutes is acceptable. If you are 10 minutes late, or more, chances are you are not going to be able to receive the full services that you were booked for. Most salons consider you to be a no-show if you are more than 15 minutes late. Depending on the salon, you may still be charged for your service if you don’t show up, or you may be charged a fee, especially if you are chronically no-showing for appointments. This relates to the “show up to your appointment” point.
♥ Don’t be too early to your appointment. I know, I just told you not to be late, and for most people, that’s common logic, but you also shouldn’t be too early. 5 or even 10 minutes early is totally fine and also appreciated, but 20-30 minutes early is excessive. The reason that you shouldn’t show up too early is that it puts your stylist and the client that is before you in an awkward and stressful situation. Even if you don’t mind waiting, no one likes to make anyone wait on them and your stylist is going to feel rushed, as is the client that they are currently working on. It is unfair to the client that is currently in their chair because it can make them feel guilty or make them feel like they might not be getting the full experience of their service. Even if your stylist is not currently working on anyone, you may be intruding on their scheduled lunch time which is equally uncomfortable.
♥ Children in the salon. This varies a lot from salon to salon, so you should ask about their policies when in doubt. My feelings are that unless your child is receiving a service, you should not bring them with you. If you do bring them with you, there should absolutely be someone else there, who is NOT receiving a service to watch them, and they should stay in the waiting area. You can not keep an eye on your child while getting your hair cut or colored, and your stylist is not a babysitter, nor is the receptionist or any other staff member. Salons are also really no place for young children to be, both because there are other clients trying to relax, and for the safety of your child; There is hair everywhere, there are people moving quickly with sharp objects in their hands, and there are harsh chemicals being used which can and do get dropped.
♥ Bringing other people with you to your appointment. This will also vary depending on the salon. If the other person will be receiving a service as well, then of course it is totally acceptable. In my salon, I don’t really mind if people bring one friend or family member with them to their appointment, but our space is also small so sometimes it gets pretty crowded. At most salons if you bring someone with you, they will need to stay in the waiting area; It’s just unrealistic to have a bunch of people standing in the way for no reason. It really baffles me when people feel that they need to bring a whole entourage with them to get their hair done, I also notice this a lot in tattoo shops. You really don’t need the support of 8 of your friends in order to get any kind of service done. Really, you don’t.
♥ Tipping. Yes, this is a service industry, and as in any service industry, tipping is the norm. This is not to say that you HAVE to tip. It is a gratuity of course, and anything is appreciated. If you were terribly unhappy with your service (i.e. you felt that the stylist was rude, didn’t listen, etc.) then don’t tip, or tip less. If you are confused about how much to tip, you aren’t alone, most people are unsure. Sometimes I am in the awkward position where my client is asking me how much they should tip me. I generally tell people that, once again, it is a gratuity and anything is appreciated, but leaving the same percentage as you would in a restaurant is a good rule to go by. 15% of the service price for good service, 20% or more if your stylist went above and beyond to make you look and feel good. To give you an idea, I charge $35 for a haircut $5 is the most common tip that I get, though $10 is not unusual. Of course sometimes I get less, and there have been instances where I have gotten much more, even 100% tip, which IS unusual, but makes me feel awesome! I have heard some people say “Well, if they want more money, why don’t they just charge more to begin with instead of expecting a tip?” I personally look at tips as a reflection of how well I am doing with customer service, and determine whether or not I need improvement with a particular client, and not as just being greedy and wanting more money. It’s “feel good” money, a way for clients to show that they appreciate you as a stylist.
♥ Don’t haggle. We have a set price range for a reason. Salons that charge more don’t do it in order to boost their egos and be snobby and superior (Well, I’m sure some of them do, but generally I don’t feel that is the case.) Salons that charge more factor a lot of things into their price, including your stylist’s ongoing education, rent in a particular part of town, utilities (lights, running blow dryers, hot water for your shampoo, constantly washing and drying towels and capes, etc.), coffee for clients, replacing expensive tools which get worn out (my blow dryer and flat iron are both worth around $200 and my shears are worth about $350, they also have to be sharpened regularly), buying new color and products to be used on clients, etc. not to mention of course, profit for your stylist… it’s their job, that’s how the make money to live off of. I mentioned ongoing education; The more advanced or specialized your stylist is, or the more in demand they are, they more they will charge for their services. They are investing time and money into making themselves better, and should be compensated duly. This is why many salons implement different “levels” within their salon; Stylists who are newer will charge less for their services than stylists who have been doing it longer, have more education, or are in higher demand. I know I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here, my starting point was not to haggle. Don’t try to get a discount, this just says to the stylist that you don’t value them or their services. If you can’t afford a particular stylist’s price, then you should find another stylist. You wouldn’t try to talk down the price of a doctor’s appointment or a meal at a restaurant, so don’t do it in the salon.
♥ Don’t try to squeeze your way in. I don’t mean that it’s not okay to ask if a same-day appointment is available, that’s fine. What’s not so fine is being upset if you aren’t able to get in at the last minute, or trying to smash yourself into an already full schedule by saying “Well couldn’t you cut my hair while someone’s color is processing?” or “Well couldn’t you come in early or stay late to do my hair?”. It’s rude, plain and simple. If your stylist says they don’t have time, accept it. They don’t have time. We have lives outside of the salon too, with families, and social engagements, and errands to run. We more than likely do NOT want to cram someone in at the last minute after we have already been booked solid the entire day. If you need to get in on a particular day, make your appointment in advance. One of the things I hate most is when I am clearly packing up and getting ready to leave for the day, coat on, purse in hand, and someone asks if I can stay to cut their hair because they simply must have it done right then and there. At that point in the game, even if I do have time, it makes me not want to do it on principle.
Well, that’s it from me. I hope I covered everything! Please comment and let me know if you found this post helpful and if there is anything in particular that you’d like me to cover in future blog posts!
Did you like this post? I am a professional hairstylist, so this is the sort of stuff I get paid to do “in real life”. While I offer this for free on my blog, please consider making a small donation if you found this post helpful. All these years later, and I am still paying off my student loans :)
(Fast and secure via PayPal!)