Smart Spender

Why I would tip a shampooist over a hairdresser

Disclaimer: Everything in this post is based on my own experiences of working in a high end hair salon. They might not be representative of the whole industry. 

Tipping can be a controversial subject. Although in the US it is a definite part of the culture, with everyone tipping everywhere, we in Europe are still somewhat confused about who to tip and how much. Restaurants are easy – we know to tip and that somewhere around 10% is fine. But what about other services? Today a few words from me about the one that’s close to my heart, hairdressing.


Getting your hair done tends to be a very personal situation. If you’ve been seeing the same stylist for a while, they usually find out a lot about you over the course of the visits, not to mention they know more about your hair than you do. I have seen stylists taken on holidays or bought expensive gifts for Christmas. It only seems natural to tip them at the end of the visit, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are a few simple rules to that:

  1. The amount you tip is up to you, it doesn’t have to be a certain percentage (at least in the UK)
  2. Try not to run around the salon with the tip. Either leave it with the receptionist (they should have a box/envelopes where they separate everyone’s tips and give it to them at the end of the week) or give it to the stylist at the end of the visit. Interrupting them when they’re with the next client is not the best way to go.
  3. You don’t have to tip. It’s up to you. If you’re unhappy with the service, definitely don’t tip. You should let your stylist know or, if you’re not comfortable doing that, tell the person seeing you off at the reception, they will know what to do about it.

However, tipping rules (or tips ;)) is not what this post was meant to be about.

It’s about the people who wash your hair.


That girl or boy you didn’t really notice, but who gave you a nice head massage (hopefully).

They don’t just wash hair.

If your salon is a teaching salon, they might be apprentices, who are learning on the job. Often earning the apprentice minimum wage, which is laughable.

If they are not, they might just be people employed to take care of the salon.

They wash towels. Sweep hair. Clean morning and evening. Help out at the reception. Assist stylists if they’re in a hurry. Take catering orders. Run to the post office/coffee shop/bank.

For that, they usually get the lowest possible wage, sore feet and often cracked, bleeding hands. And the promise that the tips will boost their wages.

I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for them, just notice their existence.

Stylists are usually on commission – this means they don’t have a set salary, but rather a percentage of what you paid for the service. My thinking is – I already paid them directly for their work. That’s why I’d rather spare a few pounds and pop them in my shampooist’s box.

If you don’t want to tip your shampooist, that’s obviously fine. You don’t have to. But please, ask them to wear gloves. It will make no difference to you, but all the difference in the world to them. You might be that one thing that saves them from painful dermatitis.


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