An Insider’s Guide: Salon & Spa Etiquette / FAQ

We’re back to the Insider’s Guide series today with some important FAQs that everyone needs to read before their next salon and/or spa visit. 

Is it necessary that I arrive 10-15 minutes early? What if I’m late for my appointment?

In most cases, yes, you should arrive 10-15 mins early. It will allow preparatory steps to be taken so that your service begins right on time, such as consultation, filling out any information needed, getting you set up at your station or draped for your colour, etc.

If the salon has a “check-in time” as opposed to a “start time,” then they are adding the 15 minutes for you, so no need to add your own 15 minutes to that as well, otherwise you will be there half an hour early.

If you’re going to be late, make sure that this is not your first service at this particular location (you don’t want to skimp on consultation time), that you’ve called in and okayed it with the salon, and that this isn’t a regular habit for you. Ideally, you should not be more than 15 minutes late. If so, consider rescheduling your service, otherwise you should anticipate that some of your service time will be cut short to accommodate for other bookings, or that you will not be the top priority time-wise because the staff will be busy accommodating the already scheduled services at the time you arrived.

Who should I tip, and how much should  I tip them?

You should tip everyone who worked on you. The tip total should be 15-20% of the total cost of your service, broken down appropriately between your service providers. If you colour and cut cost $100, then you could leave a total of $20 tip, with $5 for the assistant who shampooed and prepped your hair, and $15 for the stylist who cut and blow-dried. If there were too many people working on you for you to keep track of (which is completely okay, some salons are very team-focused), just ask the front desk staff to divide the tip accordingly for those who worked on you.

If my stylist is the salon owner, do I still need to tip?

The short answer is yes. You should tip everyone who worked on you, and there is no real exception just because your technician is the business owner. Did they work hard to give you results you love? If so, then you should show your appreciation by tipping.

Now, if the salon is large (think over 25 staff), then you don’t absolutely have to tip the owner if you really don’t want to, but if it’s a smaller salon, then tipping is a must. Think about it this way: if the salon owner is working in the same way as the other salon staff, and if they provide you with the same service as a salon staff member, then in that situation, they should be treated equally to salon staff.

Clients will often say to me, “well, if it’s the owner, then I don’t need to tip my stylist, right?,” looking to me for confirmation, but it’s awful to put someone on the spot like that. No matter who you ask, the manager, receptionist, or stylist is going to tell you the same thing, that it’s completely up to you and that the salon team appreciates you and loves having you as a client either way. This is all true, and the stylist/salon owner will not treat you any differently if you don’t tip, because that would be unprofessional. But you should be tipping in order to show appreciation for that professionalism and the service provided.

Is it rude to ask for a service technician with less expensive services?

Not at all. You need to find the right technician for you, which means that your budgeting needs must be taken into consideration. When you call the salon to ask about services and pricing, ask about the prices differences between their junior, senior, and master technicians, and if they can recommend the right one for you based on your budget and style preferences.

My stylist told me that they won’t give me the look I asked for? Why, and should I be upset?

I hate to break it to you, but your stylist may very well be in the right by doing this. Depending on the service you’ve asked for, it might #1 be very damaging to your hair/skin and your stylist is refusing to compromise the integrity of your hair/skin, or #2 be a look that they are certain you are going to hate, despite what you may think now.

Your hair/skin is your technician’s advertisement and they are not about to ruin it for you or for themselves. If you have box dyed black hair and are looking to become a bleach blonde in a short amount of time, your stylist is doing you a favour by refusing. Your hair will break and become stringy and severely dry and damaged. If you use Accutane or Retin A and your aesthetician is refusing to wax you, it is because these products will cause your skin to rip off.

So, no, you shouldn’t be upset, because your stylist is seriously looking out for you. Instead, be understanding and ask them for a suggestion on how to achieve the results you want, but in a way that is customized for you.

I hate my results. What do I do?

1. Stay calm. Know that your technician is going to want to fix this for you, but you need to give them the chance to do so.

2. Communicate your concerns to your technician immediately. If he or she is already working on their next guest, let the manager or front desk staff know. It’s totally okay that you don’t love the look, and they will be very understanding of that and do their best to help you.

3. Your fix should be free. You should pay for your service (whether right away or at the time of the fix), but if you are paying right away, confirm with the manager (or someone with decision-making capabilities) that your fix is guaranteed and will be free. I wouldn’t feel the need to put it in writing if you trust the salon, but if this is your first visit, then you can certainly ask for a written confirmation.

What do I do if I can’t make my appointment?

Rule #1: Do NOT be a no-show. You will be blacklisted, and the salon team will avoid rebooking you. I’m serious, no one appreciates it when their time has been promised for a certain service, only for the client to completely disrespect that promise. Always, always contact the salon to let them know that you will be unable to make your appointment.

Rule #2: Give as much notice as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute, because it is very hard for salons to rebook the time that was reserved for your service on short notice. The shorter the notice, the more apologies you should offer, and be generous with your tip the next time you go in to see your stylist.

The Overall Lesson

Be kind and understanding, and you will receive the best service. Be unreasonable and rude, and you will be blacklisted. This is likely true of any service-based business, so keep that in mind when dealing with any service provider. People naturally want to help you unless you give them a reason not to. It’s really as simple as that.

Please let me know if you have any other questions about your salon and spa visit, about how you should handle a given situation, what’s appropriate and what isn’t, etc.

I hope this guide was helpful! Let me know about your experiences and how you’ve handled them in the past!

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