Hairstylists are so much more than just “that person who cuts my hair.” Case in point: that time you used your appointment as your personal therapy session and vented about your roommate issues for the entire duration of your cut (no judgment). In the end, we want to make our hairstylists happy, because they, in turn, make us very, very happy.
But beyond standard tipping rules, there’s a lot of gray area—which is exactly why we asked four celeb hairstylists all the questions you might feel too awkward to ask your own. Hairstylists Anh Co Tran, Tanya Abriol, Nick Stenson, and Matthew Monzon give us the scoop on what you should really do if you’re running late or unsatisfied with your cut, how much to tip your hairdresser, and more. Keep scrolling to read their perspective.
How late is too late for a client to show up to their hair appointment?
Tran: Typically, 15 minutes is too late because we work in 15-minute intervals here at the salon. If a client shows up super late, it causes me to run late the rest of my day.
Abrio: Showing up 15 minutes late really is the limit, taking in consideration that typically each service takes an hour. Consulting what you want to change about your look, getting washed, and settled in takes another 15 minutes… At that point, it has run into 30 minutes of your appointment time.
Stenson: If a client is over 30 minutes late, it’s hard to keep the client experience at an acceptable level, so it’s best that the appointment is rescheduled. A long delay makes things worse for each customer who follows, and that’s not fair to your clients who arrive on time.
Monzon: If you’re running 15 to 20 minutes late for your hair appointment, you should really call the salon and let them know. It’s a courtesy that really helps all people involved: the stylist, the receptionist, the next client, and yourself.
What should a client do if they’re running late? When should they call?
Tran: If a client is running late, call ASAP. It gives us time to adjust our day accordingly.
Abrio: If a client is running late, they should call at least 30 minutes before their appointment time. Stylists will, at that point, need to adjust the rest of their day so clients after them aren’t waiting.
Know that your hairdresser wants to make you happy and help make you beautiful. But by being late, you’re cutting into everybody else’s time.
Stenson: Clients should give the salon a courtesy call and be given the option of rescheduling, based on the how late they expect to be.
Monzon: If you’re running late for your appointment and you know you’re going to be later than 20 minutes, don’t always expect your stylist or the receptionist to be able to sort it out. If you’re running more than 30 minutes late, you should plan on either rescheduling your appointment or know that you may have to wait some time. Know that your hairdresser wants to make you happy and help make you beautiful. But by being late, you’re cutting into everybody else’s time.
Chattiness: yay or nay?
Tran: Chatty or not chatty, it doesn’t matter. It’s part of our job to connect with the client and vibe off of them. I’m happy either way!
Abrio: If a client isn’t chatty, it doesn’t bother me, although I really do love getting to know about a client. Everyone is different.
Stenson: It’s a personal preference, but I don’t mind it. I’m a people person, and I enjoy chatty clients. I especially enjoy when clients are interested in making sure to take the best precautions to take care of their hair and ask me for recommendations. Right now I’m loving Matrix Biolage ExquisiteOil Protective Treatment. It provides a lightweight replenishment and is great for all hair types. I recommend it to all of my clients!
Monzon: The salon experience is different for everybody. Some prefer to just take the time for themselves and not chat; some may want to chat about the latest gossip. The most important thing is to start a conversation with your stylist about the service that you want done with your hair. Bring pictures and references to show what is inspiring you so that you and your stylist are clear on what the finished result should be. That should always be the first conversation.
How much is too much when it comes to sharing things from a client’s personal life?
Tran: It’s up to the client what they choose to talk about. I just try to stay respectful and listen. I don’t like to get into an in-depth conversation with clients.
Abrio: When clients share personal situations in their lives, I really think they’re aware of what boundaries have been set. I’ve had clients share the most intimate things, and I’ve had to dismiss a client because they shared too much and were just way too inappropriate.
Stenson: Listening is part of the business of a hairdresser. We expect to know things about our clients, and frankly, we’re here to listen.
Monzon: Depending on your relationship with your stylist, it can be a bit awkward when you share intimate or personal information. As relationships continue and you get to know someone better, maybe then a bit more information is acceptable. But if you think it may be a bit too risqué or politically charged, it probably is.
Is texting during a hair appointment okay?
Tran: I personally don’t mind texting!
Abrio: Being on the phone texting during an appointment is such a common thing now. I think if you’re in the middle of a conversation, it’s rude, but if it’s not affecting the stylist and their work, it’s fine.
Stenson: If the client is the one texting, my policy is that it’s his/her time to do with what they will—as long as it doesn’t interfere with the cutting/styling process.
Monzon: Texting and cell phone usage have changed the way hairdressers work. Timing is important. For example, if you’re getting color applied, most likely it’s fine. If you're getting a sharp, one-length haircut where the balance is important, it’s definitely not a good time to be chatting or texting. But being in the salon, you should use the time to unplug, relax, and enjoy the experience of being taken care of.
What about talking on the phone?
Tran: It’s not okay. It gets in the way almost 100% of the time.
Abrio: Talking on the phone for a long period of time while having your hair done is definitely not okay. If it’s a quick chat, no big deal, but being on the phone really changes the dynamic.
Stenson: Talking on the phone makes it difficult for a hairdresser to work and is very rude. The stylist and client need to have a mutual respect.
Monzon: If you’re expecting an important call, it would be okay—just ask your stylist on how they feel about it first.
How much would you expect a satisfied client to tip?
Tran: Twenty percent.
Abrio: Tips are a funny thing. I personally always tip according to my experience. I hate the percentage rule. It’s a good guideline, but a tip is a gift, and it’s such a personal situation.
Stenson: Clients who are satisfied generally tip 20% or more.
Monzon: When it comes to tipping, 15% to 20% should be the standard practice.
Should clients tip your assistants? How much?
Tran: Absolutely. My assistants work very hard to keep my day running smoothly and help the client have a satisfactory experience at the salon. Anywhere from $10 to $40.
Abrio: Assistants should always be tipped! I think they are too often looked over, but the same rule applies if they give you a great shampoo. Tip them! When I was an assistant, I would get anything from $5 to $100 in tips, but again, it’s a personal situation.
Stenson: One should always tip someone for providing a service. That amount should be left up to the client.
Monzon: When it comes to the assistants, know that these people are training to become better and more knowledgeable hairdressers. They’re living on the tips that they’re making. When someone knows how to rinse all that color out of your hair and gives you an amazing shampoo and scalp massage, all while keeping you dry, that’s when you can decide how much it’s worth. I know many clients think of the shampoo and scalp massage as their favorite part of the salon experience.
Should a client still tip if they are unsatisfied? How much?
Tran: No, I don’t expect that.
Abrio: If a client is still unhappy after I’ve tried fixing their haircut, I wouldn’t expect them to tip. I would expect little or no tip until you redeem yourself the next time.
Stenson: I don’t think anyone should have to pay for a service they’re unhappy with. A hairdresser should make things right and try his/her best to make a client happy.
Monzon: A tip is something that isn’t expected. I think a tip is something to show the appreciation for the time and execution of the service provided. And if the client is unhappy with the service, don’t leave a tip.
What should a client do if they’re unhappy with their cut or style?
Tran: It differs from person to person and how big of a change they’re making, but telling me immediately so I can fix the problem is usually best.
Abrio: If a client is unhappy with their service, they should definitely speak up. Even if a client calls up two weeks later, they should feel comfortable calling and speaking up. Trust me, we’d rather make you happy than lose you as a client… most of the time.
Stenson: If clients aren’t happy, I’d advise them to speak up immediately so the issue can be resolved. Clients should never leave the salon unhappy.
Monzon: A client being unhappy is an unfortunate situation; this is why references and inspiration pictures are important. Also, being upfront about the past history of your hair is very, very important, especially when it comes to chemical services.
If a client has come back to the salon to fix a haircut or color they were unsatisfied with, should they still tip?
Tran: Only if they’re satisfied!
Abrio: No, they shouldn’t be expected to tip. They already paid you for a service that wasn’t to their satisfaction. Please note: Watch out for people who try to get out of paying for anything by saying they aren’t happy with their service. There’s a difference.
Stenson: Again, I’d encourage a client to stay until he/she is happy the first visit. If it’s a return visit, tipping is again a personal preference based on the circumstances. It’s always appreciated but not expected.
Monzon: If a client wants to change their long hair to a more modern length and then decides two days later they don’t like it, I think expecting any sort of compensation or refund would be completely inappropriate. But if they’re returning to fix or modify a haircut and the outcome is positive, I think the tip is at the client’s discretion.