How Much Should I Tip My Barber?

Our resident expert Cleve MacMillan has the answer. Plus, how to find a new barber and why you should always wash your hair before getting a cut.

how much to tip for men's haircut

How do I know how much to tip for a men’s haircut?
20 percent is the baseline. But keep in mind that the more you tip, the more attention to detail your barber is going to give you next time you come in. He’s not going to hock a loogie on the back of your head if you don’t tip well, but he can rush you through without making sure your sideburns are even or without lining up the hair on the back of your neck.

If 20 percent is too rich for your blood, see if you can make it up in a different way. If you have tickets to a game you can’t use, hook your barber up. If you work at a car repair shop, give him a free oil change. Favours like that have value, too. It doesn’t have to be cash. One of my clients once invited me to his private box for a few football games — that was awesome.

I just moved; how do I find a new stylist or barber?
Not on Yelp. Those reviews are subjective. Plus, you can’t see the actual haircuts on Yelp. And while some reviews come with photographic evidence, I’d take it with a grain of salt. The barber could be better with a camera than a pair of scissors. And in many cases, you’re seeing just a portion of the cut, which generally has been highly stylised with product.

To me, the best way to find a good barber is looking for someone on the street with a nice haircut and just asking them, “Hey, I’m looking for a barber. Where do you get your haircut?” If the same name pops up six or seven times, chances are that’s your guy.

I also wouldn’t hesitate to visit a barbershop and hang out for a bit. Let them know you just moved into the area. Ask to check out a few of their style books, and watch out for good conversations between the barber and his clients. If it’s anything like your favourite barbershop back home and you see some solid haircuts walking out the door, give it a shot.

Think of it this way: if you’re going to buy a new car, you need to go kick a few tyres, right?

Should I wash my hair before I come in for a cut, especially if I haven’t showered that morning?
In short, yes. First, it’s just respectful — no barber wants to pick stuff out of his client’s hair. Plus, it reflects badly on you. You don’t want your barber to think you’re a grommet because you don’t wash your hair, do you? Second, it’s important for your stylist to see how your hair normally looks — clean and styled with your go-to product — so he can give you the right cut.

If you haven’t had a chance to shampoo or shower that morning — say you went to the gym — just be real with your barber. Tell him you couldn’t wash your hair, and ask if he can. Maybe he will, or maybe he’ll be totally fine with delving straight into the haircut. If you have to go back to work after your haircut, your barber might even offer to shampoo your hair once the cut is finished. That way, you don’t have to deal with hair clippings falling on your face and in your food throughout the day.