hair salon etiquette
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What To Do, What Not To Do: Hair Salon Etiquette 101

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The Do’s and Don’t Of The Hair Salon

Rules For Clients

When I was young, I would always to wonder why my mother didn’t take more than one child to the hair salon with her.

Every time she would go to the salon with one of us, she would say, “Now, you better behave while in here.” I, being the wild child I am, would not listen and act crazy in the salon and every time, I would get a spanking. I never knew why my mother treated the salon like a church until I spoke with some friends of mine that are hairstylists.

healthy hair

Through my conversation with them, I learned that most of their clients forget to respect their workspace. I heard so many horror stories about “clients from hell” or clients that assumed because they knew the hairstylist that anything would be acceptable.

Having excellent hair salon etiquette can help your hairstylist feel comfortable doing your hair. When you think of hair salon etiquette, you should of any form of etiquette that has unspoken rules.

Nowadays, some salon businesses have explicit rules when it comes to what you can and cannot do in their lounge. They have these rules in place because of past experiences.

If you go to a salon that doesn’t have rules, here are some simple tips you can use to ensure you’re the best client your hairdresser has.

salon hair

Be On Time

If you’re early, you’re on time, and if you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re tardy, you’re most likely going to miss your appointment.

Hairstylists are usually very strict about appointment times. Why? Hairstylists typically have hectic days filled with meetings. If you show up late or don’t show up at all, you’re throwing off your hairstylists schedule, and potentially ruining the rest of their scheduled day.

If you think you’ll be running late for an appointment, it’s essential to make a courtesy call. A courtesy call won’t guarantee that it’ll be sorted out, but at least you’ll be providing a heads up. Try to call at least 20-30 minutes before your appointment.

If you know you’ll be more than 15 minutes late, expect to reschedule your appointment. Your hairstylist just wants to give you the best style to fit your needs but being late cuts into everyone’s time, including yours.

When In The Chair

There are plenty of things to remember when in your stylist’s chair.

Most stylists don’t mind if you chat or start a conversation with them while in their chair but remember to be courteous and careful about what you’re sharing. A lot of people forget that their hairstylist isn’t their therapist and overshare. Oversharing your personal life can make your hairstylists and the people around you uncomfortable. Be mindful.

Another thing to keep in mind is phone usage. Texting, for the most part, is okay. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of your hairstylist’s ability to do your hair, you should be okay using your phone to text. Any time that your hairstylist is doing an extensive task such as cutting or washing, you should put your phone away.

It helps prevent your hairstylist from making any mistakes. Trust me; you’ll be happier this way. It’s also important to not be talking on the phone while you are at your appointment. Speaking on the phone is different from texting. While you talk on the phone, you can move around and prevent your stylist from doing their best work.

Also, talking on the phone is rude when you’re in an area with other clients and stylists. Unless using your phone is essential, it’s best just to avoid it.


Be Realistic

It’s important to be realistic when dealing with hairstyles. No matter what you’ve seen your stylist do, they are not magicians.

Make sure that you know the reality of your hair. If you have thin, and damaged hair, don’t expect to leave with magically thick, and healthy hair. The process will take time. Ask your hairstylist their opinion on how you two can work together to achieve the look you desire.

Also, it’s important to know your hairstylist’s limits. If you see that your hairstylist is better at doing extensions, then make sure to use them for extensions. If you need to do your natural hair, ask them if they have any referrals for stylists that can assist you. Don’t ask them in a way that’s offensive.

Make it clear that you just need a style that’s different from their niche. Ask them to be honest about what they can and cannot do for you, and move forward from there. Bring pictures to your appointment so that your stylist knows what you want.

Make sure you tell your hair stylist how much time you have to take care of your hair. If you only have ten minutes to do your hair, then don’t ask for a style that will require more time than that.

damage frizz hair

Know The Costs

As a client, you should always know and discuss the cost of what you’re getting.

It’s important to see the price of the work you want when you book the appointment so that you’re prepared and ready to pay. Knowing the amount of what you’re receiving can also help you accurately negotiate the price you’re willing to pay for the style you want.

Be mindful when attempting to negotiate a price with a hairstylist. Don’t undermine the work that they do by lowballing them. Don’t bring up other salons when deciding your price either. If you want to pay that price, your hairstylist will most likely tell you to go to that salon instead.

Be courteous, and honest about what you can afford, and I’m sure that your hairstylist will work with you.

girl with money

Be Respectful

Some salons have unspoken regulations to keep their space positive, and well-kept. No matter what these rules are, it’s important always to follow them. Remember that you’re in someone else’s area, and if you don’t agree, you can just leave.

Unless something illegal, or unethical is happening, then it is best not to protest. If they don’t allow food, don’t bring food. If they don’t want kids, don’t bring your child. Whatever it is that they would like, you must abide.

The Rule On Kids

Kids are usually the topic of discussion when it comes to salons. Most salons don’t want kids in their lounge, not because they don’t like them but because it can be a safety hazard if they’re too young. Kids are prone to running around and causing a hassle, and if they do that, many things can go wrong.

I remember being the salon one time with a few younger children. I was old enough to sit in one place, and not cause a fuss but the other kids weren’t. They ran around and knocked over a hot comb which ended up burning a child.

After that incident, that salon didn’t tolerate any children under four years old in their salon. People know how difficult managing time with kids can be, so if you absolutely must bring your child to the salon, discuss it with your hairstylist first.

Some salons can tolerate children that behave well, and won’t run around, but some salons don’t so always make sure you discuss. If it is possible, leave your kids at home.

Your salon time should be a relaxing and fun time for you!

hair cut trim

What If You Don’t Like Your Style?

Telling your hairstylist that you don’t like the result can be awkward.

However, honesty is essential and letting them know, is more beneficial than not saying anything and being dissatisfied. Most salons will work with you until they achieve the style that you desire. Stylists don’t want you to have a traumatic experience so ensuring that you’re satisfied is their priority.

Make sure that you have photo references that show what you want. Don’t like your style? Make another appointment at your earliest convenience. Make sure you don’t freak out when realizing that you don’t like your style.

The workers in the salon are there to help. It’s okay to withhold payment until you are happy. Be sure to have written confirmation that the cost to fix it is not your responsibility. For future appointments, be sure to discuss the faults of last time so that it doesn’t happen again.

How To Properly Tip

Finding a stylist that you like is arduous, but once you see one that you adore, you’ll never want to lose them.

Just as you expect your hair stylist to keep you happy, you have to make an effort to keep them happy as well. Hairstylists make money from their tips mostly, so what they receive is essential to them. It doesn’t matter the who helped you, if they had their hands in your hair, they deserve a tip.

The person that did the majority of the work should receive 10-20% of the total bill. Everyone else should at least receive five to ten dollars, especially if they helped in a significant way. When the holidays come around, try pitching in a little more.

As mentioned before, hairstylists often rely on tips, and when the holidays come around, those tips can go a long way.

saving money

Are You a New Stylist?

Even though the majority of the rules are for clients, new and upcoming hair stylists need a small list of regulations to abide by as well. If you’re a new hairstylist, don’t worry too much. Most of the rules that stylists need to abide by aren’t as extensive.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you embark on your new journey as a hairstylist.

Don’t Be Late

The same way that we expect clients to be on time, we hope hairstylists to be on time as well. If you’re overbooked, be honest about that. If you’re running late, make sure to let your front desk know so that they can give your clients know.

Don’t leave your clients guessing what happened to you. If you’re running more than 30 minutes late, have the front desk reschedule your appointment at a discounted rate. It is beneficial to both you and your client because they won’t be as disappointed with a discounted price for the next time.

hair school salon

Be Kind

Some people have had horrendous experiences with hairstylists and their behavior towards them. To ensure that your clients are comfortable and happy in your space, practice being kind towards them.

Small gestures such as asking your clients about their day, or about how they’re feeling can make a huge difference in how the two of you engage. Be patient with your clients when they are choosing what style they want. Give them the encouragement that they need to pick something that’s right for them.

Be Honest

It’s important and essential, to be honest about what you’re capable of as a stylist.

Different hair stylists have different mediums of work, and can only do so much. If you have a nice that you stick to, make sure your clients know about that niche. This way, when clients book you, they know what it is that you do.

Another thing to be honest about is cost. When it comes to the value of styling hair, people like to know what to expect. So, be open about how much you’ll be charging them for your services.

hair school salon

Minimize Cellphone Usage

It’s typical that with any job, you’ll have to minimize cellphone usage.

As a hair stylist, people are trusting you to take care of their hair and be attentive to their needs. You can’t be that attentive with a cellphone in your hand. Most salons expect clients to not be on their phones while getting their hair done, so the same most likely goes for those providing the service as well.

Be professional

As a hairstylist, you’ll have to remember that your clients are your clients, and can’t be too involved in your personal life.

When talking with clients while doing their hair, keep the topics as professional as possible. Be open and fun, but don’t get too deep-rooted in issues that can show you in an unprofessional light. Be mindful not to gossip about other co-workers, or about friends.

Don’t get your clients involved in your drama. It’s guaranteed to make your clients uncomfortable.

salon blow dry

Don’t Expect a Great Tip For Poor Service

Unless your salon demands it, don’t expect your clients to leave a tip. It should be standard practice to leave a tip but if you give poor service, expect little to no tip at all. You earn through professionalism, capability, and desire to keep clients happy. The happier your clients are, the greater your tip is most likely to be.

Everything You Need To Know

Whether you’re a client or stylists, hair salon etiquette is essential.

Being open, and honest will create a significant, and long-lasting relationship between clients and stylists. Make sure that you’re mindful of a salon’s rules and regulations, and make sure that you’re respectful.

As a stylist, make sure that you are kind, patient, and professional. Salon etiquette can go a long way! If you hold onto this salon etiquette bible, you should be just fine!

About Simi Muhumuza

Simi is an undergraduate student at GSU. She is studying psychology, and is an avid black mental health advocate. She is also a poet, and is working on a book that will be released next year. She DJ’s on her spare time, and can be reached on all social outlets as @simimoonlight.

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16 thoughts on “What To Do, What Not To Do: Hair Salon Etiquette 101

  1. Teal Scott says:

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    This was an awesome article and information to clients and stylist if proper salon etiquette.

    1. William Dowdle says:

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      This is helpful I really want to own a salon one day.

  2. Misti says:

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    I Love what weave can do.. different styles. Texture. Color. Length. I’m always looking for different ways to change my hair I love how it makes me feel when I Chang my hair friends and family members always ask me where I get my hair from find me a hairstyles to get that’s why I want to start my own hair business the freedom to to more

    1. Misti says:

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      I hate to go to the salon and a client has their kids there or talking about her personal business on her cell phone or arguing with her man or dressed in her PJs. When I go get my hair done I’m always early. I am respectful of her other clients I tip her to show her I appreciate her time. She always gets me to do my hair so I show her that I care.

  3. Samantha Nicholas Marshall says:

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    I have to say that when it comes to appointments at a hair salon it’s never kept, I feel that most people do not care about the next person’s appointment they show up late with no respect, don’t say sorry and on top of it all they have an attitude as if your the one that made them late. It’s like going to the doctor you make an appointment show up when your suppose to because there is some else to consider. I use to get my hair done and ever time I would show up I would always be seen an hour later from my appointment time either the stylist is late or the first client decided to show up late, so I decided to learn how to do my own hair, not only are you inconveniencing that person, but you could be making them late for an appointment somewhere else. We need to stop disregarding appointment time when it comes to the hair industry because it’s just as important as going to the doctor.

  4. Yolanda Burton McDowell says:

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    Oh, My…I must be honest I definitely found Being Realistic in the Salon important…I owned and operated a Hair Salon so this really interested me. Now this is so important for Clients to get because typically they expect their services to be exactly the way the desired in their mind but let’s be honest if you have for example damaged edges…ponytails would not be my recommendation, therefore, it is highly encouraging to consult with your Stylist.

  5. Bria Davis says:

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    I loved this article! I am an at home stylist and most of my clients typically come to me. My son is with me 50% of the time when I’m doing hair. Yes, I know how it feels when there are kids running around when you’re trying to make sure you’re doing your job. I usually put on a movie and give the kids snacks and that solves almost everything. I am annoyed when my customers are late but I usually give them a 15 minute grace period because I know things happen in life. I always ask my clients to bring pictures to ensure that they receive the style that they desire. If I can not accomplish the style I have no problem referring them to someone who will take care of them with no problem. My prices are affordable and my clients know that. I have a price list sitting by my hair stand and when booking I confirm the price to make sure there are no problems when it’s time to pay. I don’t expect tips but they are nice!

  6. Toni Hammond says:

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    I would never have known there were rules to the salon!!! I have never been the salon type of gal, I do my own hair or have a few friends who think they are stylist do my hair. I went to the salon once when I was about 15 years old and I had the worst experience EVER! I sat and listened to the older ladies talking crap about people and men running in to pay and running out trying not to get caught in the web of women talk. When it was my turn I sat in the chair and told the stylist what I wanted, well what my mom told me to tell her I wanted. It was supposed to be a trim and a hot curl, what I got was a chop and a curl that looked like I was auditioning for a role in hairspray! At 15 years old I was devastated, I said nothing to the stylist ran to my mom’s car got in and started bawling like a baby, I mean I couldn’t get a word out, snot everywhere! My mom was just like why didn’t you tell her you didn’t like it? I remember feeling like I was embarrassed and uncomfortable to tell the stylist I did not like it, I know she worked hard but I just did not like the hairdo. Since that day I decided if my hair is messed up it’s my own fault or my friends lol, this article spoke to me because I do plan to go back to the salon within the month and I would never have known there were ways to the salon, it’s been over 20 years since my scissor happy stylist did my hair. Thank you for the information, I shall be one on time well-behaved woman with no children sitting in a chair soon😊.

  7. Dominique Dykes says:

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    I loved this! While I’m no hair stylist, I have been a client for one before. One of the best tips I could give would be to BE PATIENT, and that’s for both sides of the party. Because when you rush things it becomes imperfect and we all know we like our hair to be slayed and laid. Another tip: leave ALL negative vines at the door. No one likes to work in those conditions and a client definitely wouldn’t want to sit around in those conditions. These are just a few tips I find very helpful and can go a long way even out the hair salon. I hope these work for you as well.

  8. Chevyree Akridge says:

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    Now, this here… I’m very selective in my hair salons and beauticians. I cannot and will not go into a salon that doesn’t hold the highest standards. Im a mother of 4 grandmothers of 2 and I know the salon isn’t for my lil people. I will always plan ahead before scheduling an appointment. I want to go into a salon that’s clean, quiet, professional and as fast as possible. I do my best to respect the salon as well nothing gets me more ruffled than a beautician that doesn’t respect their own establishment. More people should read this article I think a lot of people think of old school salons were they gossiped about everyone in the neighborhood but I honestly think if everyone is the topic of conversation so I will be also. Owners and custom should have great salon etiquette

  9. Darshelle Davis says:

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    This was a VERY Very good article. It touched on all of the key points that many new and seasoned stylist struggle with. When reading I like the first step was BE ON TIME. When most people are going to the salon they feel as if the stylist has time because she is planning to be there all day. Not realizing by you running late causes a time conflict with the rest of the clients that may come after them….. The article then ends with “Be professional”. Alot of times as people we sometimes get caught up in the moment and the comfort level we feel with a person. Which can sometimes cause problems down the road. Conversating is good, but the gossiping can be bad for the stylist and the salon. I really enjoyed reading this article because it does give very helpful information for new and seasoned stylist to continue to be successful.

  10. Brittney Worthy says:

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    This article is for EVERY WOMAN! If you’re not a stylist at one point in time you have been or will be a client! Excellent read!

  11. Denise says:

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    Thank you for this I need to share it all over. I HATE going to salons 1. The wait time is too long and they forget you are sitting under the dryer 🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️ 2. They talk or gossip too much and they always have people sitting around (that aren’t stylists). I do understand that not everything that’s on paper or every style that we see it’s going to come out looking the same but from my experience, I think they stylist should say “I’m unable to do this look” but don’t stand over me and try a thing🙅🏽‍♀️🙅🏽‍♀️. No, ma’am. I also think that stylists need to get more training every year learn new things.

  12. Takiya Mitchell says:

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    I work in a hair salon and when working with a new client I often ask throughout the process how they are doing. Just to see if they are pleased so far. I have done someone before and at the end, she says oh I didn’t want it like this I wanted it like that. Very discouraging and time wasted.

  13. Braden Bills says:

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    I want to go to a hair salon, but I want to make sure that I go about things the right way. It makes sense that following any established rules would be important! I wouldn’t want to make things harder for anyone, after all.

  14. Elsa Anderson says:

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    I am going to a new salon to get my hair cut soon and I always get nervous going to new places. I am glad that I found this article because I had no idea that you should have a conversation with your hair stylist but also try to keep it light and not give too much personal information. This is an important tip for me to remember because I often talk way too much and probably overwhelm the stylist. Also, it makes sense that you should avoid eating while getting your hair done and keep your cell phone use to a minimum because it is polite and the stylist may have questions for you throughout the process.

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