Like any service-related profession (e.g. waiters, bellhops, butlers, etc.), there is an unwritten expectation of some type of compensation above and beyond what was provided for the basic service, especially if the barber goes above and beyond the call of duty–something I like to call “Man Pampering.” However, there is a proverbial tipping spectrum that may alter the amount that someone should or is willing to pay. On the farthest end of that spectrum is the man who feels he has paid for the service directly and does not need to tip any further dinero. On the other side of the coin is the generous tipper who is more than willing to lavishly make the barber shop floor rain.
There’s also everything in between. The real question remains:
How much should I tip my barber for a cut and a shave?
Like many service-related businesses tips can range from 10% to 20% of the total bill, depending on the level of service. If you feel the barber went above and beyond on the pampering, then it may be worth it to put him into the 20% category. You might be thinking to yourself, “20% is way too much to tip a barber who already is charging me for his service!”
What most barber patrons may not realize is that even some great barbers do not own the shop or the chair. There is additional overhead above and beyond the time and cost spent for the haircut and shave that is not necessarily factored into the profits gleaned from the quality wet shave you just received.
But, if you are simply that cheap, there are alternatives to tipping, at least those in the 20% range.
Alternatives to Tipping
My cheapskate brother always used to say:
I’ve got a tip for you: don’t bet on three legged horses.
For the cheapest of the cheap among us, there may be no help. For those that are frugal or who may not feel they have the money for a generous tip (but who still may want to provide the barber with additional “rewards” for a great haircut and wet shave), there are other potential non-monetary compensation options that you could offer.
For example, you could give your barber tickets to [fill in the blank] sporting event. If you have extra tickets, your barber may not mind getting either invited along or given a couple of extra tickets, if they are available.
Alternatively, if you provide your own service (e.g. car repair, tree stump removal, window cleaning, etc.), there is always the option for a bit of a barter/trade for services.
How Can I Aid My Barber in Preparing for my Haircut and/or Shave?
One thing that many barbershop patrons may not consider when they head into the barbershop for a shave and a cut is the need to prepare their hair for a proper shave.
The just like shaving, the best haircuts also come from proper preparation. Washing and fluffing your hair is very helpful as it allows the barber to better gauge the lay of your hair and ensures your hairs are all equally standing away from the skin in their natural order. If you go to the barber after sleeping or after the gym, you are more likely to go with matted or greasy hair which is more difficult for the barber to cut.
Furthermore, most barbers would prefer you to go to the barber shop with your hair freshly shampooed, combed and styled with your favorite hair balm or pomade. This also will help him get the vision for what is typical for you, unless you are really looking to change things up.
If you head to the barber unprepared, it is best advised to let the barber know. In which case, s/he may perform a quick preparatory wash for you. If you’ve got a great barber, they may follow-up your trim and shave with another shampoo or rinse. This will help you avoid the likely event of bits of hair falling out and causing scratching later in the day.
Whether or not you tip your barber is most often a personal preference. However, common courtesy would indicate you do so. How much you tip is of course entirely up to you.
Do you tip your barber? If so, how much? What is your typical barbershop experience been? Do you prefer to shave yourself at home or do you wait until you head to the barber for a trim and a shave? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.