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08/29/2019

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How Much to Tip Barber

Society is complicated. There are arbitrary rules for everything we do. Some make sense, but plenty more don’t. Every guy intuitively understands why we don’t pee in adjacent urinals unless we have to, but why is it wrong to scratch your balls when they itch? What is society?! Sorry, that almost got weird. In all of these unwritten rules, one of the hardest to follow is tipping. Every service has its own set of regulations, and keeping up can be tough. You’re not about to get a cheat sheet on all of modern tipping. Instead, we’re going to focus on one of the most powerful men in your life: your barber. When you understand how to tip your barber, you’ll understand tipping in general, and some of this will be less frustrating.

The Old School

Once upon a time, 10 percent was the customary tip. Anything more than that was a special thank you. Of course, you could buy a haircut with loose change in those days, so things were a little different. In more modern times, a 10-percent tip is considered a bit of a slight. It’s your way of saying you don’t really like the haircut, but it isn’t so bad that you need to pick a fight or make a scene. In general, if you’re tipping 10 percent, you shouldn’t be planning on getting another haircut from that same barber. 

Hopefully, this will help you dispel older notions of how tipping works. It’s not that the advice was always wrong. It’s just that tipping changes with the economy. So, if your haircut costs more than a dollar and you’re satisfied with it, you should be tipping above 10 percent. 

how much to tip barber

Up-to-Date Tipping

The new baseline is somewhat debated. Depending on who you ask, answers will range from 15 to 20 percent. Occasionally, people will try to tell you 25 percent. They’re wrong (and probably barbers). The truth is that sometimes 15 is appropriate, and other times 20 makes more sense as a minimum tip. It all boils down to where you’re getting your hair cut. 

This doesn’t mean that high-end salons should get a higher tip than side-street barbers. The difference in tip mostly depends on where the shop is located. If you’re in downtown Manhattan, the cost of living and running the shop is much higher. Also, there’s a ton more competition for your business. All of this means that you can reasonably expect a better haircut and better service, and your average tip should reflect that.

If you’re getting a haircut on main street of small town USA, the opposite of all of that is true. A 15-percent tip makes more sense. Still, getting a haircut in a cheaper location is no excuse for being cheap. If you’re tipping less than 15 percent anywhere in the U.S., it should be because there was a serious problem with the haircut experience.

Modern Solutions

Now you know the basics of how much to tip your barber. That’s all well and good, but haircuts are expensive. Even worse, you need them on a regular basis. Tipping only adds to the cost, and sometimes money is tight. You aren’t the only one who has ever felt this way. Thankfully, there are modern solutions to the cost of tipping your barber. In a lot of cases, favors are worth as much or more than a little cash.

That’s right. Your barber is actually a mob boss. Ok, it’s not that extreme. But, there’s a good chance you have something to offer, besides cash, that would make a good tip. The golden standard is quid pro quo. Everyone has skills, and there are things barbers don’t like to pay for either. Mechanics could offer a free, professional tune-up. An accountant could trade tax services. You get the idea.

If you don’t think you can do a quid pro quo tip, you might have something else good. Remember that a tip is supposed to express gratitude. Maybe you have tickets to a game or something comparable. As long as it’s something your barber will genuinely appreciate, it can make a good tip.

With all of this in mind, there are two rules to follow with non-cash tipping. First, you should establish that your barber really wants what you’re offering. If you pawn off a free pizza card where they never eat, that’s not a tip. You’re just being a dick. Secondly, the barter tip shouldn’t fully replace cash. Your tips are still an important part of the barber’s income, so don’t always short them on money they need to pay the bills. But, you can definitely change things up every now and then, save some money, and show real gratitude to your barber in the process.

When the Haircut Is Bad

how much to tip barber

We’ve covered positive tipping, but there’s a dark side to barber shops too. Sometimes, you’re not going to get what you want. Facing a bad haircut (or a bad experience) is a part of life, and there is a right way to deal with it. Sometimes, simply shorting the tip is sufficient to express a problem. More often, being a man and having a civilized discussion about what went wrong is better.

Let’s talk about the experience first. If you feel like your cut was rushed, the place is dirty beyond a few hair clippings or there’s a real issue with service, that makes the haircut less pleasant. All of this could justify a small tip, but that would be something you do if you aren’t planning on coming back.

On the other hand, barbers are human. Your regular guy might just have a bad day and give you a haircut you don’t like. It’s up to you if you want to burn a bridge or not, but the gentlemanly approach carries a lot of weight. The best thing is to express your displeasure. That doesn't mean you should kick chairs, throw scissors and scream at people. It does mean that you should conduct yourself respectfully and explain why you’re unhappy. Usually, you can come to a reasonable agreement. Now, here’s the ultimate trick in this situation. After having that talk with your barber, you still give him a tip. It’s not a big fat tip. It might even be smaller than usual, but you make sure that you express appreciation for his time and effort, even if you don’t love the result.

When They Deserve a Big Fat Tip

Let’s be real. Sometimes, you’re the problem. There are occasions where you might show up for a trim and be exceptionally hard to deal with. Maybe it’s because your least favorite nephew put gum in your hair. Maybe you had an accident while working on the car and the five showers you took still haven’t fully decreased your mop. Whatever the case, if you know working on your head is harder than normal, compensate your barber. 

This brings us to an important point. You shouldn’t be visiting the barber with dirty hair. Plenty of places offer hair washing services, but that isn’t an excuse to be nasty. Any day you get a haircut, you should shower before going. That doesn’t mean you need to show up with dripping-wet hair. It means that asking someone to work with your grungy hair is obnoxious.

While we’re at it, you shouldn’t be doing sweaty or gross work between your shower and haircut. That defeats the purpose. The reason they offer hair a hair wash is to get product out of your hair for a better cut. It’s not to deal with your poor hygiene.

how much to tip barber

So, when you prepare for a haircut, you want to shampoo and condition your hair. It leads to the best results, and you can do both by using Crop Cleanser by Manscaped. It’s an all-in-one formula that will cleanse your hair and your body in one fell swoop. It’ll also make you smell great, so the people dealing with your hair aren’t being punished. We can’t go so far as to say washing with Crop Cleanser should be considered a good tip for the barber, but it’s close. 

Ok. You should never again feel awkward about tipping your barber. You know the rules. You know how much your typical haircut costs, and you should be able to budget the tip into your calculations. That’s one more issue that’s solved. Until next time, keep it clean and don’t slack off on getting a haircut, or any of your other grooming.

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