Hair Stylist Pay: A Comprehensive Guide

Ever wondered how much your fabulous hair stylist makes? Or are you considering diving into the world of cosmetology and curious about the financial rewards? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of hair stylist pay, uncovering everything from base salaries to tips and additional income streams. So, buckle up and get ready to learn all there is to know about hair stylist pay!

The Basics of Hair Stylist Pay

What Determines a Hair Stylist’s Salary?

Several factors influence how much a hair stylist can earn. These include:

  1. Location: Where a stylist works can significantly impact their pay. For instance, stylists in big cities tend to earn more than those in smaller towns.
  2. Experience: As with many professions, experience plays a crucial role in determining pay. A seasoned stylist will typically earn more than a newbie.
  3. Specialization: Stylists with specialized skills, such as color correction or advanced cutting techniques, often command higher salaries.
  4. Clientele: A stylist with a loyal and high-paying clientele can significantly boost their earnings through tips and repeat business.
  5. Employment Type: Whether a stylist is self-employed, works in a salon, or rents a booth can also affect their pay.

Average Base Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for hair stylists, hairdressers, and cosmetologists was around $27,630 as of May 2021. However, this number can vary widely based on the factors mentioned above.

Additional Income Streams


Tips are a substantial part of a hair stylist’s income. It’s not uncommon for clients to tip 15-20% of the service cost. For a $50 haircut, that could mean an additional $7.50 to $10 per client. Multiply that by several clients a day, and tips can add up quickly.

Product Sales

Many stylists earn commissions from selling hair care products. These commissions can range from 10% to 20% of the product’s retail price. Selling a few high-end products each week can significantly boost a stylist’s earnings.

Freelance and On-Site Services

Some stylists offer freelance services for events such as weddings, fashion shows, and photo shoots. These gigs often pay more per hour than salon work and can be a lucrative addition to a stylist’s income.

Social Media and Personal Branding

In today’s digital age, savvy stylists leverage social media to build their brand and attract new clients. Some even partner with brands for sponsored content, earning additional income through their online presence.

Comparing Salaries: Salon vs. Self-Employment

Salon Employment

Working in a salon provides stability, as stylists typically receive a regular paycheck. Salons might also offer benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and continued education opportunities. However, the salary might be lower compared to self-employment due to the salon taking a cut of the earnings.


Self-employed stylists, including those who rent a booth or own a salon, have the potential to earn more. They set their rates, manage their schedules, and keep all their earnings. However, they also bear the costs of running their business, including supplies, rent, insurance, and marketing.

How to Increase Hair Stylist Pay

Continued Education

Investing in advanced training and certifications can set a stylist apart from their peers. Clients are often willing to pay more for a stylist with specialized skills and knowledge.

Building a Strong Clientele

Creating a loyal client base is crucial. Providing exceptional service, maintaining good relationships, and implementing effective marketing strategies can help build a steady stream of repeat clients.

Expanding Services

Offering a wider range of services can attract more clients and increase earnings. This might include adding services such as hair extensions, keratin treatments, or scalp massages.

Efficient Scheduling

Maximizing the number of clients seen in a day without compromising service quality can boost income. Efficient scheduling and time management are key to achieving this balance.


How much do hair stylists make an hour?

On average, hair stylists make about $13.28 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this can vary widely based on experience, location, and clientele.

Do hair stylists get benefits?

Stylists working in salons may receive benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans. Self-employed stylists, however, typically need to provide their own benefits.

Can hair stylists make six figures?

Yes, it’s possible for hair stylists to make six figures, especially those who are self-employed, have a strong clientele, and offer high-end services. Additional income from tips, product sales, and freelance work can also contribute to reaching this income level.

Is it worth becoming a hair stylist?

If you have a passion for hair and enjoy working with people, becoming a hair stylist can be a rewarding career. The potential to earn a good income is there, especially with dedication, skill, and effective business strategies.


Hair stylist pay varies widely based on several factors including location, experience, specialization, and employment type. While the average base salary might seem modest, additional income streams such as tips, product sales, and freelance work can significantly boost earnings. Stylists can increase their pay by investing in continued education, building a strong clientele, expanding their services, and managing their schedules efficiently. Whether working in a salon or self-employed, a career as a hair stylist offers both financial and personal rewards for those passionate about the field.

Authoritative Links

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
  2. Professional Beauty Association:
  3. American Association of Cosmetology Schools:
  4. National Cosmetology Association:

Behind the Chair: