Proper Salon Etiquette

The hair salon is where men and women go to get that perfect hairstyle they want to achieve the best look possible. Besides making the much-needed appointment with a stylist to maintain his or her great look, the salon can easily be the place where one can relax and distress from the chaos and demands of life. Regular patrons build close relationships with his or her  hair stylist and an appointment is the perfect opportunity to do some catching up.

While this ideal salon scenario is what every hair stylist and customer hopes for, it doesn’t always turn out. Stylists can dread that one patron who always complains and tries to tell him or her how to do her job. First-time customers can be apprehensive about the stylist’s ability to give them the cut they want or he or she may have a taste in style that may lead them to recommend a cut the customer doesn’t like.

To help make the hair salon experience a pleasant one for both the stylist and his or her customer, there is proper salon etiquette both the stylist and customer should follow.

Hair Stylist Etiquette

As a hairstylist, you’re a professional. Just like any other job, your customers have certain expectations of you. Your customers are paying for your services so you should be respectful of their time, be friendly and personable and do all that’s within your power and ability to be accommodating and make them happy.

With that said, here are some things you should and shouldn’t do as a hair stylist:

Jewelry and Accessories

  • Do wear tasteful jewelry that matches your outfit
  • Don’t wear overly gaudy necklaces or rings or noisy, dangling bracelets. These can interfere with your haircutting ability and be annoying for the client.


  • Do have conversations with your clients that focus on them, such as their hobbies or work.
  • Do speak in an appropriate tone.
  • Don’t engage in gossip, especially about the salon, coworkers or competing salons
  • Don’t overshare and talk only about yourself and your personal problems
  • Don’t use profanity nor vent about a coworker in front of clients
  • Don’t talk about politics, religion or sex as these are highly personal and sensitive topics
  • Don’t talk too loudly so others in the salon can hear
  • Don’t use industry jargon, but rather converse with clients in a way they will understand.

Personal Hygiene

  • Do look and smell nice. After all, you’re the expert when it comes to looking stylish and great.
  • Do dress appropriately. Don’t be afraid to express your own unique style and personality. However, don’t look trashy.
  • Do excuse yourself when treating a flesh wound.
  • Do wash your hands, use mouthwash, deodorant, perfume and Febreeze on your clothing, especially if you’re a smoker.
  • Don’t wear low-cut shirts.
  • Don’t wear too much perfume or cologne.


  • Do be on time. Have a tight schedule. Your client’s time is limited and valuable.
  • Do go to work, unless you’re sick or have already pre-arranged a vacation.
  • Do be honest, kind, respectful and gracious towards your clients. Thank them for their time and patronage. Strive to make them happy and right wrongs.
  • Do be receptive.
  • Do be present, attentive and a good listener. Give clients your undivided attention.
  • Don’t discuss hairstyling tips with clients or leave a tip sheet in view at your station.
  • Don’t bring your child into the salon. As their parent, you’re responsible to find childcare.
  • Don’t use your cellphone or keep it out on the floor. Instead, use it during your breaks.
  • Don’t poach another salon’s clients. Instead, build your own clientele.
  • Don’t run from avoid or make excuses for treating demanding clients or clients requiring difficult cuts.
  • Don’t take your clients for granted.

Clean Environment

  • Do clean up your area after each client.
  • Do sanitize tools after each client.
  • Do clean the equipment you used.
  • Don’t treat a cut at your station in front of a client.
  • Don’t expect a good tip for poor service. While industry standard dictates a 15-20% tip, clients aren’t required to tip, especially if they aren’t satisfied.

Hair Salon Customer Etiquette

Good relationships are a two-way street, requiring work and cooperation on the part of both parties. While clients expect professionalism and cleanliness of their hair stylist, hair care professionals expect a level of respect for their work environment and time as well as adequate recognition and compensation for their services. Here are some salon adequate tips for customers:

Before the Appointment

  • Do be on time. Hair stylists have busy, tight schedules. A rule of thumb is to arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time.
  • Do call in advance if you’re going to be late. The earlier you call, the better. If you’re more than 15 minutes late to your appointment, reschedule. Stylists work in 15 minute intervals and customers later than 15 minutes late can cause stylists to get inadequately backed-up the rest of the day with other clients.
  • Don’t just show up late or without an appointment and expect to be seen right away.
  • Don’t bring your child with you to your appointment unless the salon allows children or you’ve called in advance to give the stylist a head’s up.
  • Don’t show up to your appointment sick.

During the Appointment

  • Do follow the rules of the salon. Adhere to their cancellation policy, phone use policy and the salon’s policy on kids.
  • Do be careful about what you share in conversation. Deeply personal stories or information can make the stylist and other clients uncomfortable.
  • Do ask if it’s okay to text while getting your hair done.
  • Do tell your stylist about any short, important phone calls that may come while in the appointment.
  • Do know your stylist’s limits and areas of expertise. Ask for referrals if your stylist isn’t specialized in an area you want.
  • Do ask questions.
  • Do be honest and upfront about your dissatisfaction of your hair style.
  • Do know how much the service will cost and let the salon know your budget beforehand. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a price with the stylist.
  • Don’t lowball the cost of your service.

After the Appointment

  • Do tip the stylist at least 15-20%.
  • Do tip the assistants.
  • Don’t feel obligated or pressured to tip for messy or sloppy work or for a style you don’t like.

Working in a salon as a hair stylist is often a fun and rewarding profession. As one gains experience, the more he or she will become knowledgeable of these tips for salon etiquette. Hair stylists have certain proper etiquette just like clients do to help make the salon a place of relaxation.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to be a hair stylist, contact us at Taylor Andrews Cosmetology School today and we’d be happy to tell you about our cosmetology programs as well as provide additional information so you can choose the right cosmetology career that meets your own goals.