Salon Etiquette 101
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Salon Etiquette 101

How to get -- and give -- the best at your hair salon.

Etiquette Basics

How much do I leave for the shampoo girl? Who do I tell if I'm unhappy with my cut? What if I really don't want to buy the products the salon is trying to sell me? If you feel unsure sometimes about the ins and outs of salon etiquette, you're not alone. At our salon, we get a lot of questions from clients wanting to be sure they're doing all they should to ensure great service and great hair.

What we hope our clients realize, and every salon patron should know, is that a salon experience should be all about servicing you. Your comfort and happiness should be top priority, wherever you go.

That being said, keep in mind that being pleasant and open to suggestions is a nice way to treat salon staffers and stylists, especially as they are aiming to please you. A little reciprocal TLC is always appreciated and noticed. For salon success all around, try these suggestions.

Etiquette Basics

  • Most salons have a 24-hour cancellation policy, so if you can't make an appointment, let the salon know as soon as possible.
  • Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time, so you can be changed and chair-ready at the appointed hour.
  • Explain in detail what kind of look you have in mind; photos are helpful too. You and your stylist should also discuss your lifestyle, personality, and different ways to style your new look in your pre-cut consultation.
  • Keep chatter in check when you're in your stylist's chair. Dishing or venting may be fun, but you don't want to break his or her concentration.
  • If your salon offers to sell you products, it's most often because they are the products that were used to get your style at the salon, and will help you recreate the look at home. If you're not interested, or if the product's not in your beauty budget right then, don't be afraid to say so. Your stylist can suggest alternatives or other ways of maintaining your style.

Tipping and Haircut Remorse

Tipping Tactics

  • Good service deserves to be recognized. Just like a restaurant, a salon is a service industry, and it's expected you will acknowledge those who have assisted you. Giving 10 to 15 percent of the cost of your service is an average tip; it demonstrates that you like what you had done and are happy. A 20 percent tip shows more appreciation for that awesome job you really love.
  • Spread the love to others in the salon and they'll remember you kindly on all your return visits. Be sure to tip all the assistants who work with you and any other helpers in the salon -- 5 percent is standard.
  • Should you tip the salon owner? It depends on his role in the salon. If he just meets and greets, it's not necessary. If he is an actual technician who worked on your hair, the answer is yes.

When You're Unhappy with Your Hair

  • People are often nervous about speaking up about something they don't like at the salon, but owners and managers need to know the problems within their walls, and appreciate your input. For example, as soon as you notice something you don't like about your hair or service, express your concerns so that your stylist can make adjustments.
  • If you're not happy with your style when you get home, stay calm. It often takes some time to adjust to a new look and a little practice with the new techniques and products your stylist should have explained to you. If you're still unhappy after two weeks, often a salon will offer a free or discounted repeat cut.

For more information on Mark Garrison and his New York City salon, go to markgarrisonsalon.com.

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