Doing Henna in a Salon

By Holly Pagnacco c 2004

There are many things you may want to consider before arranging to provide your services applying henna at a salon.  I have assembled many of them here, some as questions that you can answer for yourself, or that you might discuss with the owner of a prospective salon.


Where is the salon located?  Is it in an area with heavy foot traffic, where people on the street might walk in on impulse?  Is it instead tucked away on an upper floor, or located further uptown?  Is there visible signage out front, like a sidewalk sandwich board?  Considering location issues will help you determine how much promotion you may need to make the salon in question a viable venue for your services (see below).

Income Splitting vs. Rent

Depending on which works better for you, and what possible arrangements the salon is willing to consider, you can either split the money you make or rent space in the salon outright at a flat rate. (Tip: you could consider raising the price of your in-salon henna applications to cover the rental/split amount.)

If the salon is located in a popular tourist area with lots of foot traffic (especially teens and young adults), then negotiating a flat rent might be the more advantageous option for you.  If, however, you plan to work exclusively by appointment, and/or have an irregular schedule, then simply splitting your income with the salon might be more beneficial.

A possible point of contention may be the percentage of the split.  To determine this, I look at the amount of work I put into making the henna paste, and the cost of the supplies.  If the salon will cover the cost of the ingredients and hardware to make the paste (i.e. lemon, sugar, henna powder, essential oils, mixing containers, and a freezer to store paste), then a 50/50 split can be appropriate.  If, on the other hand, you buy your own ingredients and make the paste at home, then a 30/70 split may be fair (30% going to the salon, 70% to you).  You may plan to keep your tips, but make sure you have an understanding with the salon; never make assumptions.

Making appointments

Depending on how involved the salon wishes to be, you may have them book appointments for henna applications.  Alternatively, you can make appointments yourself, and use the salon as the location to meet the client at.  (The 50/50 or 30/70 income split works for this scenario.)

Setting work hours

Again, if the location is on a busy street/shopping district popular with tourists, or you wish to advertise specific hours to encourage walk-in customers, then you will want to choose consistent office hours (i.e. Friday nights, all day Saturdays & Sundays).

Existing Salon Clientele as Prospects

What are the demographics of the salon's current clientele?  Wild and funky college students?  Trendy young adults?  Professional 20-, 30-, or 40-somethings?  Little old ladies would be less inclined to have henna done on them.  Use your best judgment.

(Tip: A good way to get existing clients of the salon to have henna done and/or book an appointment later is to offer free small designs while they are getting their hair done!)


As you may already know, you will need an arsenal of supplies to do henna including toothpicks, sealant, design books, etc.  What will the salon provide?  Paper towels?  A fridge/freezer for storing henna paste?  Witch hazel & q-tips for removing botched designs?  Will the salon pay for part of the printing costs for waivers, info sheets and advertising?

Marketing & Advertising

When you first start at a salon, you will almost certainly have to advertise your presence.

Here are some ideas that have worked for me:

        stand on the street and hand out flyers to passers-by & answer their questions (it's a good idea to have henna on your hands while you do this!)

        put up posters in the salon windows/doors (with their permission of course)

        drop business cards in nearby businesses

        offer coupons to existing salon clientele

        offer gift certificates as prizes in contests (at the salon or elsewhere)

        apply henna to the hairstylists & aestheticians, turning them into walking billboards (with their permission of course)

Use your imagination!

Covering Your Butt (Insurance & Waivers)

Most salons are required to have liability insurance that covers everything and everyone on the salon property; however, do not make assumptions.  Check with your local government and review the applicable bylaws & regulations.

Signed waivers are HIGHLY recommended for every henna application.  It not only protects you but it also informs the client of the content of henna paste and any rare-yet-possible reactions.  It provides clients with info regarding what henna is, how it stains, and encourages questions before any henna paste is applied to their skin.  Again, make no assumptions.  A signed waiver is not a shield of invulnerability, rather, it is legal instrument you should have if the need arises.

The waivers provided in Erika Harrison's book "How to Start your Own Henna Business" are excellent templates.  There are also numerous websites with samples of appropriate wording for legal waiver documents.  To be absolutely thorough, you should check with a lawyer or legal expert to ensure you have closed as many loopholes as possible.

Other Perks

You could arrange to rent out a salon for workshops.  This may save you a few trips lugging gear from the car, since most salons have more than adequate lighting, a comfortable seating area, a stereo to play music on, a staff room with a fridge and freezer, etc.

The salon staff can also be your walking billboards, advertising your skills through free henna designs on their skin.  This can make for some great conversation, since clients are captive audiences for hours, getting their haircut & coloured!


Ultimately, there are many factors that will determine whether working from a salon might be a rewarding avenue for you to pursue.  There can be many pros and cons.  If you are considering this route, I recommend you make lists of both as you see them, and then weigh the two sides thoroughly.  Do not be afraid to consider worst-case scenarios!  If you choose to proceed, he best advice I can offer is to always work out each detail of the arrangement *before* agreeing to work anywhere.  This alone will save you a world of headache later!

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