How Much to Tip Hairdresser on $200, $300 & Highlights?

How Much to Tip Hairdresser on $200, $300 & Highlights?

You’re getting cleaned up after getting highlights and a trim. The look you’ve got is something that you love.

Now panic starts setting in, causing your heart to beat faster. Should you tip the hairdresser? If a separate colorist came to help, do they also need a tip?

What about the person who did the shampoo and rinse? Does the salon owner get a tip after everyone else?

Do I even have enough cash to offer a tip?

Anyone who works in the service industry typically accepts tips, especially in the United States. If you have questions about the etiquette or expectations of this interaction, the first answer is found in the percentages of your total order.

How Much to Tip a Hairdresser on $200, $300, and Highlights

The standard tip to leave a hairdresser is 20%. That means a $40 tip would be appropriate for $200 in services, while $60 would be for a $300 order. If personal instructions weren’t followed, it could be suitable to tip 10% or 15%.

If multiple people provide services, it can be confusing to know how much to tip everyone. Instead of splitting up the 20% on a $200 order, everyone who helped you should receive $40 if you were thrilled with their services.

Yes – that amount adds up quickly if you have three different people helping to create the look you love.

Your hairdresser does more than cut, color, and style. They work hard to help you feel comfortable while working toward a new look.

Their stations get sanitized, you might get offered a beverage, and small talk sometimes turns into something closer to a therapy session.

When you tip a hairdresser, you’re showing them how much you appreciate their services, relationship, and time.

Good tips also make it more likely that your preferred stylist will work with you when appointments are booked solid.

Many stylists earn most of their income from tips, not the hourly wage they earn from an employer.

How Much Should I Tip for Cut and Color Services?

Tipping is always a personal decision. It’s 100% up to you to decide if you should offer one or how much to give.

Although they’re encouraged within the industry, it’s crucial to point out that they are not mandatory.

Whether you get $200, $300, or more in services doesn’t matter to the percentage that you decide is appropriate for the situation.

You might get a cut only or go for a full makeover, but the 20% general rule still applies.

If multiple people provide services for you, it helps to ask the receptionist how tips get divided to ensure each assistant gets a cut.

When sharing doesn’t happen, it’s appropriate to tip them at least 10% of the total amount.

What Amount Should I Base My Tip On?

When you look at your receipt, you’ll see an itemized transaction that shows each service and its cost. That figure creates a subtotal.

Most communities require hairdressers, salon owners, and other service industries to charge sales tax. That means an additional five to ten percent gets added to the final total.

Tipping is supposed to be on the amount offered by the hairdresser, but most people calculate a tip based off the total with tax – not the subtotal. That means a 20% tip with a 10% sales tax is higher.

Imagine that you pay for $200 in services in a community that requires a 10% sales tax to be added. That means your final total is $220.

If you leave a 20% tip on the subtotal, you’d offer $40. Should you tip from the grand total, you’d leave $44 instead.

As with other tipping mechanisms, the actual amount is up to you. You can choose to go with a pre-tax or a post-tax amount.

If you live somewhere that doesn’t charge sales tax on services, you won’t need to worry about this issue at all.

Should I Tip My Hairdresser in Cash?

Although it is often more convenient to tip hairdressers with a debit or credit card transaction, you’re taking a small percentage out of what they get by taking that route.

When you swipe a card, the processing work takes 3% (and sometimes more) out of the transaction to pay for the monetary transfer. Your 20% tip suddenly becomes 17% without a customer realizing this issue happens.

That’s why I recommend using cash tips whenever possible. You can even pay for services with money instead of plastic to improve the salon’s margins even further.

Although it is always convenient to carry a lot of money, you are helping that extra little bit.

Although 3% doesn’t seem like much, it’s $6 on a $200 order. Imagine that you earn $100 in tips each day, but you lose $3 to transaction fees.

At $15 per week, you’d earn $780 that was never received. That’s enough to pay a month of rent on an apartment in many cities!

If you forgot cash, consider using PayPal or Venmo to tip your stylist if they accept funds from those platforms. 

When you tip with cash, it helps to hand the money directly to your hairdresser. That way, there’s no confusion about who receives what when the business consolidates their books at the end of the day.

What About Tipping for Mistake Corrections?

Although tipping is recommended for all services, it isn’t necessary if you need to return to the hairdresser because they made a mistake.

When services should have been rendered during the initial appointment, any follow-up needs make it more expensive and time-consuming to the client.

Yes – you’re receiving another service, but it’s because the original work was inferior.

The only exception to consider is if you receive services from someone else after a mistake occurs.

In that situation, you might consider giving your savior a little something to acknowledge their time, energy, and effort to correct the situation.

If someone fixes a mistake they made and wants you to tip them again, I’d call that a red flag.

Should I Tip If I Receive Free Services?

A way that hairdressers and salons reach out to customers is to offer free services, such as trimming your bangs.

If the bill is $0, 20% of nothing is still… nothing, right?

As with any other tipping situation, there are no set rules to consider if you receive free services.

Even if the hairdresser only needed five minutes to create the look you love, that’s still time taken out of their schedule for you.

In that situation, I’d recommend offering at least $5. It depends on what the minimum wage or base costs are for salon services.

If I know that a hairdresser charges $30 for a full haircut, I’d base a 15-minute free service on a 25% tip. That means I’d tip $8 because I round up the change.

What About Offering a Holiday Tip to a Hairdresser?

I’ve found that tipping is more than a mere acknowledgement of services. It becomes the foundation of a stronger relationship with your provider.

When you care for someone, you want them to have the best possible experiences that life offers.

That’s why I reach out to my hairdressers each holiday season with an extra tip if I don’t have an appointment booked during that time.

A card with a little extra cash can help them get the things they need to take care of themselves and their families.

It’s never much. Most of the time, I add $10 to the tip around the holiday season. Another approach would be to tip 30% instead of your normal 20%.

Taking care of others brings good energy back to you. We all know what karma thinks, and I want nothing to do with what might come my way.

Should I Tip the Salon Owner?

This tipping issue gets a little complicated with some businesses. That’s why I’ve put together a little chart to help determine when it would be appropriate to offer tips to a salon owner and when it isn’t really that necessary.

Salon SituationShould I Be Tipping the Salon Owner?
The salon owner was the only person who provided me with services after I booked an appointment.Yes
Although I had a hairdresser taking care of my cut and color, the salon owner was the person who gave my hair a wash and rinse.Yes
The salon owner supervised the work that was being performed while I sat in the chair, providing feedback to the hairdresser while they worked.No
The salon owner was not present during the appointment, but a sign by the receptionist says that this person accepts tips.No

Although a salon owner is an entrepreneur, they’re also providing a direct service if they are your hairdresser for the day.

That’s why it would be appropriate to tip them 20% or whatever your standard amount is after receiving services.

If you can go higher than that, do so. How you decide to tip is ultimately up to you and the relationship you have with your stylist.

Should I Tip for Expensive Services?

When your hairdresser bill starts running up to $200, $300, or more, it might be tempting to save some cash by not tipping 20% – or at all.

The cost of highlights for long hair past the shoulders can be $150 or more. That means you’re adding $30 to the services with a 20% tip.

At a high-end salon, it might be $350 to receive that service. A 20% tip adds $70 to the final cost. Does that seem justifiable for the amount of time and attention you received?

I highly recommend tipping for any services, whether the bill tops $1,000 or you received a $20 cut.

Why are highlights so expensive today? For starters, the techniques have changed over the past few years. It takes more work in one appointment to achieve an effortless result.

Modern foiling also requires more customization and work. It would take multiple sessions with a traditional approach to achieve the same results.

Highlight placement is also an artform. Since no two people are the same, the best hairdressers treat every foil with intention.

That’s why I’ll tip 30% on a job well done because I’ll have less maintenance work to maintain this incredible look.

You Never Forget Your Worst Tip as a Hairdresser

Tipping in other industries rose from a 10% standard to a 25% standard since the 1980s. For hairdressers, a 20% baseline is appropriate when customers are pleased with the services rendered. If an issue exists, it’s better to ask for a resolution to fix the problem and tip after instead of walking out of the business unhappy.

My worst tip happened after an all-day session with a bride. She was super excited about her big day, talking to me about all the plans that she had. We spent about six hours that morning together for her 1 PM ceremony.

Getting up at 5 AM for a special job seemed like a chance to earn some extra cash.

Her services included a trim, highlights, and a full blowout. With my time added into the mix, the final bill was over $500. She swiped her credit card and started to walk out the door.

Then she abruptly stopped. “I’m sorry, Honey,” she said. “I almost forgot your tip.” That’s when she handed me a $5 bill.

“Thanks for doing such a great job!”

When you get a terrible tip, it makes you feel like you’re not worth much. I’ve found that most people leave no tip for three reasons.

  • They seem to lack empathy.
  • It is a cultural habit.
  • They’re being spiteful.

The truth is that being a hairdresser is tough, but most people don’t understand everything that you do in that job. That’s why I recommend tipping 20% as a baseline and going higher if you love the look.

If you can’t tip that much, then offer what you can while explaining the situation to your hairdresser. The chances are they’ll understand your circumstances.


My name is Hajer and welcome to my site. This is my little haven, my outlet, where I can express myself, and show you everything I've learned about makeup, skincare, hair tips, and so much more, as well as the different beauty mistakes I've made so that you can avoid them.

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