A client sits back and relaxes during her appointment, a long service she had to pay a down payment for.

Charging  a Down Payment in the Salon
When is it the Right Move for Your Beauty Biz?

Beauty pros, we’ve got breaking news for you–down payment isn’t a dirty word. We know, we know, in the industry, asking clients to put money down can sometimes be looked at as an absolute deal breaker. 

But here’s the thing–down payments are actually super useful and incredibly strategic when used correctly, especially when they’re charged when necessary. 

So, what’s the big deal with charging down payments, anyway? When is it necessary, and when is it unnecessary? How can you tell when you’re making the right move versus the wrong one when it comes to requiring down payments?

Fear not–the world of down payments doesn’t need to be confusing or overwhelming. This blog is going to break it down for you, pros. In no time, you’ll be charging (or not charging) where it counts.   

Charging a Down Payment: Is it Necessary? 

Here’s the short answer to this question–it’s necessary if you think it’s necessary. 

The longer answer is that sometimes down payments are necessary when customers are no-shows, when the service you’re booking is exceedingly expensive, or when you have to block off a ton of time for a specific offering. 

Ultimately, down payments are necessary when they’re saving you money and safeguarding you in the long run. Because nothing is worse than planning out a pricey, time-consuming service and having a client cancel on you, leaving you with a full day lost and no money coming in. 

So, the short answer really does apply here–if you think a down payment is necessary, then, yeah, a down payment is absolutely necessary. Go with your gut, be a smart beauty biz pro, and don’t second guess your desire to save yourself some stress. 

When it Might Make Sense to Charge a Down Payment for Services 

OK, OK, so we can easily justify charging down payments. The million-dollar question isn’t about whether you should charge a down payment; it’s more about when a down payment is the right move. 

Here are just a few examples of the right time to charge your beauty clients down payments. 

When the Service is Involved & Extensive 

We’re talkin’ hair extensions, transformation cuts, braiding sessions, multiple-hour color appointments, and generally, anything that takes more than two or three hours of your time. 


Because that’s hours of your precious time you’re committing to these services–AKA hours of time you’re taking yourself off the market to make other money. These are involved and extensive services, and if your clients weren’t going to show up for them, you’d be out hours of work–and that’s time you could have spent bringing other clients in. 

If the service is involved and time-consuming, you need to protect your investment with a down payment requirement. 

A client listens to her cosmetologist discuss down payments with her as she gets her hair straightened at the salon.

When Inflation Impacts Pricing

Let’s just face it–your rates have gone up. In fact, everyone’s rates have gone up. And that’s because everyone’s costs have gone up.

Inflation is real, and it happens. When it does, you need to protect your time, resources, and services against even the slight potential of being wasted. Setting yourself up with must-have supplies, blocking off your time, and preparing for your clients takes a lot of time and resources–and it costs money to make it all happen. 

Leaving yourself vulnerable to potential no-shows or clients who waste your time doesn’t work in general, but it especially doesn’t work in an inflation economy. 

When a Service Exceeds a Certain Dollar Amount 

Down payment requirements are a must for services that exceed a certain dollar amount–and that dollar amount is up to you. 

If you have a client coming in for a $500 service, you want to make sure that the supplies you sourced for that service (think extensions!) aren’t going to be wasted.

Securing yourself with a down payment ensures that you’re getting the money needed to cover these expenses and pay yourself in case the absolute worst happens. 

When Cancellations & No-Shows Have Become a Real Problem 

No matter the cost, no matter the amount of time, and no matter the current state of the economy, down payments are a must when you find yourself dealing with last-minute cancellations and no-shows more often than not.

The reality is that cancellations and no-shows are huge wasted expenses

It doesn’t matter the type of service you’re providing, either–whether it’s a haircut, a nail sesh, or a facial doesn’t matter. What matter is that you’re letting your clients know you don’t mess around when it comes to wasting your time and your energy. 

Are down payments, for this reason, a must for everybody? Probably not. Implementing a no-show policy or a late fee can help nip less common issues like this in the bud. But if you find yourself battling this sort of problem time and time again, you’ll want to implement a strict down payment policy for your services. 

Like most things in this industry, down payments (and when and how to charge them) are totally your call. And the nice thing is, there’s no cut-and-dry way to do them correctly. You can choose your parameters, your costs, and your reasons–and all of those things are fully up to you. Do you charge down payments are your salon or shop? If so, why? If you don’t, why not?

Drop a comment in the reply section below and share your thoughts on down payments with the rest of the beauty community. 

While you figure out if down payments are the right choice for you, we highly encourage you to subscribe to EBS for updates on when we post regular, helpful content like this blog! 

An image is shown of the EBS copywriter Hanna Marcus from Boundless Copy.

Meet Hanna Marcus, the Founder and Head Copy Gal behind Boundless Copy, a one-of-a-kind copywriting agency that specializes in big, bold brand voice and industry-disrupting copy that’s all about resonating with the right audience. 

Hanna has proudly teamed up with Elite Beauty Society for several years as their go-to copywriter on all things beauty, small biz marketing, and brand voice development. She’s big on feeling-first writing–her personal soapbox is that the best copy starts with telling a story. 

When she’s not writing cheeky, converting copy for clients, she’s mentoring other aspiring copywriters and creating digital copywriting resources designed for service pros and focused on taking the stress out of DIY copywriting.