Though the conversation of tipping is up for debate, tips are still a large part of a barber’s income.
As a client, tipping your barber 15-20% on the total bill is customary in the United States.
Giving your barber a tip is a way of saying, “Thank you! You did a great job. I love my cut.”
If you don’t feel that gratitude after your appointment, clients can also tip less. It’s unfortunate but not unheard of.
In this blog, we’ll explore:
- The history of tipping in the barber industry
- Why it’s necessary to tip your barber
- *Tips* on how to tip your barber after your appointment
Understanding Tipping Etiquette
Before we dive in on how much to tip your barber, let’s first dive into the ~philosophy~ of tipping etiquette.
Across the service industry, tipping (also known as “gratuity”) is a social practice that seeks to show gratitude to individuals for their services. Tipping is the practice of giving extra money to an employee in addition to the money they make from their employer.
It’s an expectation in many service professions, such as restaurants, bars, and – yep – barbershops.
Tipping is very common in the United States and Canada. It’s also valued in a few other countries, like Belgium, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
Typically, the more money you tip, the more you recognize the value of the service you received.
History of Tipping in the Barber Industry
The practice of tipping for services dates back centuries and is more problematic than you might think…
In fact, its origins are so divisive that the conversation around modern tipping is changing.
Here’s how tipping came to America, according to Time Magazine:
“Wealthy Americans in the 1850s and 1860s discovered the tradition, which had originated in medieval times as a master-serf custom wherein a servant would receive extra money for having performed superbly well, on vacations in Europe. Wanting to seem aristocratic, these individuals began tipping in the United States upon their return.”
Most people thought the movement was “condescending and classist,” as poorer families could not afford to pay for their food, much less add a tip.
In the 1860s, the anti-tip movement held strong and made its way back to Europe. It’s one reason that many European countries don’t allow tipping in their service industry.
However, in the newer United States, the exact opposite happened.
After the Constitution was amended post-Civil War, many slaves were free but had limited work opportunities. Many former slaves took jobs in –you guessed it –the “service industry,” as waiters, barbers, and railroad workers.
Instead of paying them a liveable wage, many employers offered the condition that guests would offer a small tip.
There was very slight pushback on this practice, and by 1926, tipping in America was solidified as we know it today.
Modern tipping was socially rebranded as “a way to show appreciation for service” instead of “a way to legally pay lower wages.”
Why Tipping Your Barber Matters
After learning the history of modern tipping in America, many service workers are changing their payment policies.
The social norm is that tipping your barber is a sign of respect for their work and dedication. It’s recognition of their long hours, including weekends and evenings, to ensure that you look and feel good.
Tipping your barber says, “I value your service and talent. I appreciate you enough to supplement your income.”
That can lead to a strong relationship with your barber.
However, knowing the history of tipping barbers, many shops and solo barbers adjust their payment policies.
Some build in gratuity to their pricing. Some change their pricing to account for time, service, and/or results.
A few don’t even accept tips anymore.
Armando Nuñez of Mando Cutz in Gilroy, CA, says, “Clients should tip whenever they feel they need to. As a barber, we should never expect it but always appreciate it.”
In conclusion, if your barber accepts tips, add 15-20% on the total bill to show your appreciation for their hard work, dedication, and talent.
If your barbershop has a no-tip policy, it’s just as respectful to abide by it as it is to tip in other shops.
What to Consider When Tipping Your Barber
Here are some of the factors to consider when determining how much to tip a barber:
Quality of Service
The quality of service provided is usually the primary consideration of how much to tip your barber.
A great barber takes the time to listen to your preferences and delivers a cut that meets (or exceeds!) your expectations.
If your barber goes above and beyond to ensure that you leave the shop feeling confident, then tipping more than the standard 15-20% is a great way to show your appreciation.
Unfortunately, on the other hand, if the service was below average, tipping may not be what you want to do. It’s customary to tip lower if you’re unsatisfied, but it’s generally seen as rude to not tip at all.
Complexity of the Cut
If your hair was styled or cut in a complex manner, consider tipping your barber more than the standard amount.
For example, if you requested a complicated style, such as a fade or undercut, tipping an extra few dollars is a great way to show appreciation for the extra effort and time spent.
Additionally, if you have a beard or mustache that requires trimming or grooming, consider tipping your barber for that service as well.
Relationship with Your Barber
Do you have a long-term relationship with your barber?
If so, consider tipping more as a way of showing gratitude for their continued service. It helps maintain the positive barber-client relationship you two built over time.
If you’re new to your barber, tip how you see fit!
0% is typically rude. 15-20% is standard. Above 20% is exceptional.
(If you need help crunching the numbers, use this free tipping calculator.)
Location and Cost of Living
Do you really need to consider location and cost of living when deciding how much to tip your barber?
If you live in an expensive city or the barbershop is in a prime location, consider tipping more than the standard amount.
The cost of operating a business in these areas is likely higher than in other locations.
Some reports show that opening a barbershop costs between $50,000-$150,000. Even if your barber opens a franchise location, it still costs about $25,000.
Additionally, if your barber works in a high-end salon or barbershop, they may have to pay a higher commission to their employer, which can impact their earnings.
Ultimately, the decision to tip your barber and how much to tip is up to you.
By considering these few factors, you can ensure that your tip is fair and reflects the quality of service you received.
Remember: A generous tip can go a long way in showing your appreciation for your barber’s hard work and dedication.
How Much to Tip Your Barber
General Tipping Guidelines
The recommended tipping standard for barbers is 15-20% of the total cost of the haircut.
This means that if your cut costs $40, you should tip between $6-$8.
Of course, tipping is always at your discretion. Feel free to tip more or less, depending on those considerations above.
If your barber went above and beyond to make sure you were happy, consider tipping them a little extra as a way to say thank you.
Tipping for Different Services: Cuts, Shaves & More
So many barbershops offer more than a simple haircut.
While the general tipping standard for haircuts is 15-20%, tipping for other services, such as shaves or beard trims, varies.
Some barbers may expect a higher tip for these services, while others may not.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to tip between 20-25% for “special” services:
- Beard and mustache grooming
- Hairpiece fittings
- Facials and hot towel treatments
- Eyebrow trimming, waxing, or styling
- Scalp massage and conditioning treatment
- Coloring and gray blending
Tipping for Group Appointments or Special Events
If you’re booking an appointment with your barber for a group event or a special occasion, like a wedding, consider tipping more than the recommended amount.
This shows your barber that you appreciate the extra effort they put in to make you look and feel great for your special event.
Another way to show respect?
When it comes to group appointments, it’s also important to communicate with your barber ahead of time about how many people will be coming in and what services they want.
This helps your barber plan their time and ensure that everyone gets the services they need.
How to Tip Your Barber
Tipping your barber is a great way to show gratitude (if their policies allow tipping!).
Tipping can be an awkward experience for some people. Here are the best ways to tip your barber:
Most people don’t carry cash anymore, so a lot of barbershops with tipping policies allow you to use a credit or debit card. Add the tip on the checkout screen or sign it on a paper receipt.
(Here’s how to determine tipping protocol for contactless payment.)
While it’s possible to tip your barber using a debit or credit card, using cash is preferable.
Barbers have to report tips from cards on their taxes, which means their income is actually less. However, with cash, the entire tip goes to your barber.
If you forget to carry cash, you can always use a nearby ATM to withdraw some before your appointment.
Peer-to-peer payment apps
You likely use peer-to-peer payment apps to split restaurant bills, send rent money, etc.
These include Venmo, Cash App, PayPal, Zelle, Google Pay, and Apple Cash.
You can tip your barber using these apps; however, the app developers are cracking down on taxing income from services rendered.
Here’s why you should consider avoiding them for business payments, especially Venmo.
Demarkus Drumwright of DeeWrightCuts in Nashville, TN, takes all three forms of payment for tips but never expects a higher tip for any reason.
“Tipping is always appreciated but never expected. It’s a good thing if your clients do tip,” he says.
Whether you agree or disagree with modern tipping etiquette, it’s a crucial part of the barbershop experience.
It’s important to know how much and when to tip your barber.
During your next appointment, ask about the shop’s payment policies. Do they accept tips? How does your barber prefer to get tipped?
Remember that tipping isn’t just about the money but about the good intention of showing gratitude for their service.