Mind Your Ps And Qs: Salon Etiquette 101

by May 01, 2019

How to behave at a salon

Image by Madison Reed

We’ve all heard of Miss Manners—the advice columnist and author who dispenses answers to reader-posed questions of social etiquette. But sometimes we need something a little more specific, a Miss Mane-ers, if you will. Someone to answer questions of salon etiquette, i.e. how to behave beautifully when things get a little, well—hairy. So here they are: your salon etiquette questions answered.

  • How Late Is Too Late? 
    Traffic, car problems, meetings that ran over—late happens. But when it comes to getting your hair done at a salon that may have a tight appointment book, 10 minutes late is generally still doable. Of course different salons have different policies, and always call in advance to notify the salon of your ETA. As for no-shows? Just don’t. It’s bad hair karma. 

  • Picture This…
    We know it can feel a little silly to bring in a photo of the latest celebrity/star/model/It girl hair, but believe us when we say it helps. Your description of the perfect light brown may not be your colorist’s description, and as the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. Plus, if it won’t work for you based on your current hair or general coloring, it’s easier to explain why, and most importantly—find something that will work beautifully on you.

  • Chatty Cathy Or Silent Susan?
    We’ve all been there...needing a little quiet time in the chair but instead you feel obliged to talk about the weather. Here’s the thing: it’s your time. And your stylist understands that. He or she may even welcome a little silence, too. It won’t be taken personally if you sit down in the chair saying how much you need to relax right now. Stylists and colorists want you to relish your time in the salon chair.

  • At What Point Does I Turn Into TMI?
    Of course if you do want to talk, by all means, go for it. Much like bars, salons have traditionally been a great place for people to vent about their problems. (They call it “hairapy” for a reason.) Just remember that the person in the chair next to you can probably hear you, as can the other stylists, the person at reception, etc. Rule of thumb: don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to your Great Aunt at the dinner table.

  • Eyes Wide Shut
    So there you are with your head back in the sink getting your hair washed. Do you close your eyes, or leave them open? We think closed is best so you don’t stare down your hairdresser from 10 inches away. Plus, if you close your eyes, you can relax a bit more, and if you LOOK relaxed, maybe that scalp massage will last a minute or two longer? Pretty please?

  • Let’s Talk About Text, Baby 
    Everyone knows to never text while driving. You probably shouldn’t be on your phone at the dinner table, either. But at the salon? That’s more of a gray area. It’s safe to say you shouldn’t talk on your phone, but texting? Sitting in a salon chair can be a great time to catch up on texts, emails, etc. However, we recommend asking your stylist if it’s ok to be on your phone, since a tilted or moving head may not be conducive to what he or she is doing. In other words, if you’re getting layers, lay off your phone for a sec.

  • Unhappy?
    Don’t like your color or cut? It happens to the best of us. We know how awkward it can feel to speak up, but stylists and colorists prefer honest feedback over a client leaving unhappy. So if it’s not what you expected, say something as soon as possible. Sometimes that means a day or two later. You might get home and after washing and styling it yourself, it’s not working for you. By all means, call the salon and tell them how you feel. In most cases, they will have you come back to fix whatever is not working for you.

  • Happy!
    The best of all outcomes: your stylist spins you around in the chair and there is your best, gorgeous self staring right back at ‘ya. You LOVE your hair. Show the stylist some love with a 20% tip, maybe a little more if love is REALLY in the (h)air. And don’t forget any assistants that may have helped!

So there you go. Salon Etiquette 101. Like most rules of etiquette, it’s pretty much just common courtesy, and when in doubt, a smile and a kind word go a very long way. Please share your stories and questions of hair salon etiquette in the comments. And, as always, thank you for reading!