What is the Average Cost of Haircut (& Tip Amount)

How much you pay for haircuts has a surprisingly big impact on your financial health and future. You should make sure you get a good deal.

An average haircut cost for men is $15-$28, and for women is $25-$44. Try not to get ripped off and pay a lot more than that. At the same time, you do not want to go too low and risk quality. What you should aim for is to find the “sweet spot” of good quality at the best price.

The haircut is one of those regular expenses that does not seem too much at first glance but adds up to a significant amount over time. Just think about it, say you get a haircut once a month, each time paying $50.

That is $600 per year. Add in 20% tips to your stylist and that amount increases to $720 a year. For a couple that is $1,440 a year. And you are paying this year after year. Each year you will pay more due to inflation and price increases.

This year it is $1,440. Next year it will be $1,500. The year after, even more. It adds up quickly over time. All that money is going to come directly out of your retirement account or your kids’ college funds.

Find a better deal on your haircut and you can put the money saved in an investment fund instead. With compounding interests, that money is going to snowball to something significant over the years and decades.

Let’s say you find a good deal and reduce your haircut expenses by half. Using our example above, you are saving $720 in one year. And let’s assume the price for haircut increases by 3% per year due to inflation. So next year you will be saving $742.

The year after that you will be saving even more, etc. Assuming 10% annual investment return (which is the historical return of the stock index S&P 500), your savings on finding a better deal on haircut will add up to over $170,000 over 30 years.

All that for just finding a better deal on your haircut. Think about what you can do with an extra $170,000! (Yes, you can pay off a house!)

Let’s look into the cost of haircuts in the US in more detail. We will then talk about finding that elusive “sweet spot” of quality – not getting ripped off by overpriced hair salons in pretty buildings while avoiding cheap but low-quality places.

Related: How Much Should I Spend on a Haircut (Men & Women)

Average Haircut Cost  By City

Young blonde woman getting her hair cut in a salon
Young blonde woman getting her hair cut in a salon

The prices below are for a basic haircut. Special haircuts or treatments will generally cost more.

The Entire USA$28$44
New York City$37$73
St. Louis$34$45
San Francisco$49$71
Los Angeles$45$69

Average Cost of Wedding Hair: For example, bridal hair in 2020 costs $110 on average, according to the wedding planning website WeddingWire’s 2020 Newlywed Study.

Given the fact that popular wedding hairstyles such as the classic chignon can be very intricate and time demanding, that price tag might not actually be that unreasonable.

For bridesmaids, the average bridesmaids hair cost is a cheaper but still significant $70 each.

Average Cost of Hair Highlights and Coloring: Another popular hair treatment is hair highlights and coloring. Its pricing will depend on whether it is partial or full highlight.

For partial highlight, the average cost is $40 to $60. For full highlight, the average cost is $80 to $100. If you are highlighting with more than one color, add $20 to $40 per additional color used.

Average Cost of Hair Blow Dry: For blow dry, the average cost is $35 to $45.

Average Cost of Hair Styling: For hair stylings such as updos, buns, curls, and twists, the average is $50 to $70.

Average Cost of Hair Perm: For perm, the average price is around $80.

Average Cost of Hair Straightening: This depends on the specific treatment. For keratin treatment or chemical hair relaxing that typically lasts 3 to 5 months, the average price is around $150.

For permanent straightenings such as thermal straightening or Japanese treatment, the average cost ranges from $200 to $800.

Average Hair Salon Prices by Service

ServicesAverage Price
Bridal Hair$110
Bridesmaid Hair$70 each
Partial Highlights$40 – $60
Full Highlights$80 – $100
Additional Highlight Colors$20 – $40 per additional color
Blow Dry$35 – $45
Hair Styling – Updos, Buns, Curls, Twists$50 – $70
Hair Straightening – Keratin Treatment (lasts 3 to 5 months)$150
Hair Straightening – Chemical Relaxing (lasts 3 to 5 months)$150
Hair Straightening – Thermal Straightening or Japanese Treatment (permanent)$200 – $800

How Much to Tip Hairdresser

Hairdresser doing haircut for women in hairdressing salon

For a lot of people, the question of tipping their hair stylists can be a source of anxiety. Do you need to tip? If so, how much should you tip? Do you still tip if you don’t like the haircut?

Just like tipping your server at a restaurant, there is no law that says you have to tip your stylist at a salon. Some stylists say that while they usually get a tip from their customers, it is not something they expect from everyone.

Having said that, it is customary to tip after a haircut. The industry standard for tipping is 18% to 22%. Personally, I would say a 20% tip is a good tip to leave – if you like the haircut you have received.

So for a $20 haircut, a $4 tip is an appropriate amount.

Tipping owner: According to Oprah.com, there is an old saying that you don’t have to tip if the owner cuts your hair. This seems to be a dying tradition. The truth is, salon owners do welcome and appreciate tips.

What If You Do Not Like Your Haircut

If you are not happy with your haircut, you are entirely within your rights to cut back on your tip. Just make sure you have communicated clearly to your stylist what you expect for your haircut.

If your realistic expectation is not met, politely let your stylist know and tell them exactly why you are unhappy. Give them a chance to remedy the situation. If you are still unhappy after that? Then it is fair for you to tip less or not at all.

What if your stylist fails to meet expectation repeatedly despite clear communications from you? Then it is time to look for a new hair stylist who can do a better job. How? We will talk about that in the next section.

How to Look for a Good Hair Stylist

male hairdresser at hair salon or barbershop

Finding a good hair stylist that suits you can be a very hit or miss process. Things do not have to be that chancy. Follow these 5 simple steps and you can find your ideal stylist in no time.

  1. Research Local Salons & Stylists: Look up salons and stylists close to where you live or work. For example, build a list of salons that are located within 30 minutes of your home or office. This list will serve as the starting point of your quest.
  2. Ask Your Social Network for Recommendations: Ask your friends, families, and coworkers for recommendations on salons or stylists. You can ask face to face or on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Cross reference their recommendations with your list from step 1 to narrow down your choices to those that are close to your home or office.
  3. Check Online Reviews & Ratings: Check out online reviews and ratings on sites such as Yelp. But remember online reviews can be fake. So do not rely 100% on them. Treat them as additional data points to consider.
  4. Make a Decision: Pick a salon or stylist based on the information gathered in steps 1 to 3 above. Make an appointment with your pick.
  5. Communicate Clearly: Make sure you know what you want. Communicate that clearly to your stylist. If it helps, bring photos with you. Use photos of yourself or some models to show your stylist what you want to be done to your hair.

Tip: If you found a hairstylist you like, I would recommend getting her contact after a few visits. The reason for this is because I have personally lost contact with a few good ones because they either quit working for that salon, or they relocated to a different place.

Key Takeaways

In this article, we have covered a lot of information about haircut costs and how to find the sweet spot of the best value for haircuts. Let’s do a quick recap:

  • Finding a better deal on your haircut and investing the savings could give you an extra $170,000 in 30 years
  • In the US, the average haircut cost for men is $28. For women, it is $44. Those costs vary based on locations. Expect to pay more in big cities
  • Expensive salons do not mean better haircut quality. You are mostly paying for their posh locations and luxurious experiences
  • Look for the sweet spot of the best value for haircuts: $15 to $20 for men, $15 to $30 for women
  • 20% is a good amount to tip your stylist
  • To find a good stylist, research online reviews and listings. Also, ask your friends for recommendations
  • Communicate clearly to your stylist what you want with your hair. Bring photos if necessary