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Salon Etiquette

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The Violet Files

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The team at celebrity favorite Mèche Salon in Los Angeles explains the art of hair appointment politesse.

Written By
audrey hepburn


There’s no more critical maintenance than mane maintenance (with the possible exception of skin, of course). And as with your Audi convertible, keeping it in top shape requires a skilled stable of professionals. On any given trip to your preferred salon—be it for a new cut, highlights, a blowout, or otherwise—there’s a whole team of stylists, assistants, and washers with a literal hand in the process.

Since the relationship with your hair caregivers is a critical (and intimate) one, proper salon protocol—from tipping responsibly to canceling with consideration—is key. Here, the team at Mèche Salon, which tends to the tresses of such regulars as Emma Stone, Drew Barrymore, and Gwyneth Paltrow, demystifies the essentials of hair parlor decorum.

FOR YOUR STYLIST: First things first: Stop by the ATM before your appointment. “Cash tips are always preferred so stylists aren’t taxed,” says Mèche manager Minya Alisa. The standard across the board is 20 percent, advises the salon’s receptionist and social media manager, Nyxx Dady. “In most salons, a percentage of services are taken from the stylist. Tipping helps offset the portion they lose for color costs and salon fees.”

FOR YOUR COLORIST: The same rules apply: 20 percent is also the usual rate for tipping the expert who brightens your blond and keeps your grays at bay.

FOR ASSISTANTS: “The colorist and stylist can’t do their jobs without assistants,” says Dady. “Even if you are on a budget, don’t cut them out! Most colorists and stylists I know would rather you take care of the assistants.”

FOR THE BOSS: Per an anonymous poll of large- and small- salon founders, the same 20 percent tipping protocol applies if you snag a coveted spot with the owner. They work hard for your good hair day, too.

And in the case you are unsatisfied with your service, just notify the manager. “I will re-book the client in with the stylist free of charge,” says Alisa. “It’s very common that clients sometimes need to come back in for a toner or gloss after they’ve had a color service. Same goes for haircuts, sometimes when the clients get home and have to style themselves, it feels and/or looks different than when the stylist did their hair.”

Leaving a stylist is always somewhat awkward, but Dady says it’s best to just be honest. “If it isn’t working, it isn’t working,” she says. “If you want to tell him or her, please do so, but nicely. If you feel there isn’t a need to, then don’t.” Despite the natural inclination to avoid awkward encounters afterward, “It’s okay to leave one colorist or stylist for another in the same salon,” Dady insists. “We actually prefer that you stay at our salon rather than go to a new one.” Alisa seconds this: “No one gets mad,” she says. “We just want the client to be comfortable.”


KEEP IT CLOSE: It might feel like a good idea to invite friends along to watch, catch up, and opine, but Alisa warns that bringing a crew to a hair appointment crowds a busy salon and takes space away from actual clients.

DON’T INVITE THE DOG: Canine salon companions are also verboten (unless for service). “We love animals,” assures Alisa, “but not everyone is a dog person, and some people may not want to get their service done with a dog next to them.”

THE SALON IS NOT A CAFÉ: A few more tips from The Violet Files’ salon-frequenting brain trust: While some salons serve food, it’s considered poor form to bring in outside cuisine, especially if it’s messy or fragrant.

HOLD THE PHONE: Texting while your color sets? No problem. But definitely avoid taking or making calls while you’re in the stylist’s chair, and be cautioned that it is in everyone’s best interest to avoid Instagramming while the stylist is attempting your layers.

NO SMOKING: If you’re a smoker, it’s always thoughtful to avoid lighting up right before coming in for an appointment. And if you need that final nicotine fix, bring gum, as you’ll be up close and personal with whoever is trimming your bangs.

COURTESY CALL: Should you find yourself running late (it happens to the best of us), an advisory phone call is always appreciated, ideally as soon as you know you’ll be held up. If you’re more than 15 minutes late, it’s good form to ask the receptionist whether your stylist can still see you.