How much should you tip a stylist, what happens if you’re unhappy with a hair colour, and all your other salon questions answered here

April 21, 2015
Sometimes I write blog posts more for my own knowledge than anyone else’s, and this is one of them. For years, I’ve pondered whether it’s embarrassing to tip my hairdresser along with my hair washer, or whether my waxing salon will kick me out if it’s that time of month.

So I decided to ask the burning questions I’ve always had, and got three awesome women to answer them with no judgement at all.

Shelene Shaer of Tanaz Hair, Body and Nails in Joburg and Cape Town, and mom to twin boys, answers some hair-related questions.
Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 4.27.02 PM
Who should we tip, and how much?
Clients tip from R5 to R20 for the washers, though it depends on the service. Some clients tip stylists between R20 to R100, but again, it depends, especially since it’s not a common thing to tip hairdressers. There’s no hard and fast rule – some clients bring end-of-year gifts instead of tipping.
Is it a no-no or rude to bring in a photo reference of what you want?
Not at all. A picture speaks a thousand words. Why would you want to go into a salon without one. Helps stylist understand what you might not be able to put into words.
Is it considered rude to bring a book or laptop during a hair session?
As long as you keep head still, it’s no problem!
Is it considered rude to talk on a cellphone in the salon?
It’s not necessarily rude, but it’s rude when when people are at the basin and their phones are on loudspeaker, which means that everyone around them can hear the conversations.
If you could tell your clients anything, what would it be?
When having colour, don’t wear best clothes. It’s difficult in today’s world to keep colour off clothes since people are fidgeting and more “busy”, and sometimes colour accidentally gets onto clothing.
When you’re getting your hair cut, ensure your feet are flat on the ground, and that you’re sitting straight.
Communication is the most vital thing in a salon. Tell your hairdresser what you want, and ensure they understand, even if they need to repeat what you said. If you don’t like something in the middle of a treatment, say something then.
Also, give the salon the opportunity to correct something before badmouthing. Don’t try fix things yourself by cutting or colouring.
Tell your stylist about all the treatments and hair colour (even if it’s boxed colour shampoo) you’ve had done.
How do you choose the right salon and hairdresser?
Ensure that the salon uses good products, and that the shampoo and conditioner they sell are the same they use at the basin. Word of mouth is also good, but try consultations, especially since they’re free. You can get a cost and idea of what the stylist will do and why, and then think about it before booking.

Lexie Stuart-Reckling, mom of two kids, and owner of Polish Nail Spa in Parkwood, answers some nail and nail salon-related questions.

Lexi June 2012

What is the one guideline you wish everyone could follow in your salon?

I would like everyone to behave in a respectful, courteous fashion to both our staff as well as fellow clients in the spa.

Who should we tip, and how much?

A 10% tip is generous and truly appreciated by our nail technicians. It is however entirely discretionary.

Is it rude to speak on cellphones during treatments?

Like anything I think it is dependent on the manner in which it is handled. I think asking the technicians if they mind and speaking with an “inside voice” on the phone is appropriate. I also think the conversation  should be kept as short as possible.

Speaking loudly and throughout the treatment is not only rude to the technicians but to fellow clients too.

What happens if we are running late, or if you are running late?

We try not to run late as much as we can but it is difficult to avoid at all times. We are respectful of a client’s time and always apologise profusely if we are running late.

It is also easier to manage the schedule if clients let us know should they be running late. We can then manage the situation far better than if we are not informed of the late arrival.

Is it considered rude to change a nail polish colour after a few nails have been painted?

Not at all. It would be difficult from a time management perspective if it was after the application of two full coats and a top coat!

Is it okay to read a book or “shut off” during treatments?

Absolutely. Our technicians are trained to “read” what the client wants and respect their wishes for a quiet time.

What happens if nail polish smudges?

It happens frequently and we will ALWAYS make a plan to fix it.

Roslyn Evans, of Sorbet Fourways, and also mom of three, answered one of most “embarrassing” yet critical questions.

What is the one guideline you wish everyone could follow in your salon?  

Enjoy yourself! We want you to come into our salon and totally relax!  If you aren’t happy – tell us!  We can’t improve if you don’t tell us when something is not to your liking.  

Who should we tip, and how much?

Tipping at a salon is not like tipping at a restaurant – there isn’t an expected 10 or 15%.  It is very much something that the guest needs to feel comfortable with and more something that you feel is a way of thanking your therapist or nail technician for your experience.  We have guests who tip R30 for a R240 treatment to guests who tip over R50 for a R300 treatment.  So very much a personal expression of gratitude.  

Is it okay to read a book or “shut off” during treatments?  

Absolutely! It is your time to relax and enjoy your treatment in the way that suits you best.  There is no expectation that you should fill your treatment time with endless conversation.

Is it rude to speak on cellphones during treatments?  

While some salons might have preferences around this we certainly do not mind!  If coming to our salon is an opportunity to multi-task, please feel free.  It is one of the reasons we have wifi on offer for guests as well – sometimes you just need to catch up on emails and get your pedi at the same time! 

Should we avoid coming to the salon for waxing etc when it’s that time of month?

So…. there might be some therapists who are totally fine with this.  Our therapists don’t mind but using a tampon is advisable.  The only thing to consider is that you are likely to be more sensitive at this time and the waxing is therefore likely to be a lot more painful.  For this reason our advice would be to reschedule.  But we understand that sometimes a wax can’t wait for anyone or anything!

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like


  • MeeA

    I simply could not bring myself to go through with a waxing appointment at that time of the month! Even if the therapist is totally unfazed, I just think it’s better to reschedule!
    I followed the Waiter Rant blog for a long time and he published a book a while back about tipping people in various service jobs. I think South Africa is behind the times on tipping, to be honest. But I also feel that service in this country – the real, honest to goodness stuff that would make me keep going back – is missing…
    That said, I rarely make use of salons, spas and such. They’re a luxury I can’t justify most of the time…

    April 21, 2015 at 7:18 am Reply
  • Kate Kearney

    What a brilliant and helpful post. I have always wondered about tipping policies, but generally don’t as I find prices of hair and nails to be exorbitant. I recently queried the prices of my gelish manis and pedis as Sorbet, and wasn’t happy with the reply – overpaying for something that lasts less than 2 weeks makes me hesitant to part with even more money on a tip – but I agree with MeeA’s comments above – great, genuine and good service is rare thay when I do experience it I will always recommend, refer and repeat my business.

    April 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm Reply
  • Leave a Reply