Are You Tipping the Right Amount at the Salon?


Unlike tipping your waiter at a restaurant, figuring out dollar amounts to give your stylists and clinicians can be complicated. Do you tip for complementary services like a bang trim? Should you give extra to a stylist who squeezes you in at the last minute? What do you do if you have a discount offer?

We’re here to help! We did some research and turned to our own community to determine how much you should leave on top of your beauty bill. Here’s a guide for tipping the shampoo person at your salon, makeup artists at brand counters, and everyone in between.

Hair Services

Start with 20%: Start at 20 percent, and be dependable with a similar amount every time you return to the salon. This way you build a rapport with your stylist and she or he will go the extra mile to ensure you get proper service and results. Tip a little more if you were late to your appointment, or if your stylist was nice enough to fit you into his/her schedule last-minute. If you have a discount, tip your stylist based on the original price of the service.

Spread the love: Always tip everyone at the salon independently, including the shampooer—don’t assume stylists will share the wealth. For a shampoo, a good amount is between $3 and $5, depending on how much the person does. If they apply toner, give you a great scalp massage, or pull out a million foils from your hair, for example, you’ll want to tip more.

Tip on freebie or cheapie services: Even if your bang trim is free, you still need to tip. The general rule is $5 to $10 depending on the average cost of hair services at your salon. You can also modify the amount depending on how often you get your bangs trimmed: the more frequently you go, the less you need to tip per visit.

Makeup Application

Call ahead to find out a store’s policy: If you’re visiting a counter at a makeup or department store, gratuity is not always necessary, since the artists are hired sales associates. Sometimes it’s even against store policy for them to accept a tip. But we suggest calling the store ahead of time to ask about their tipping policies. At the makeup counter, the best gesture is to buy product, since some sales associates work on commission.

For hired hands, tip at the consult: For makeup artists whom you book personally (a wedding, for example), a tip at the trial application is usually fair enough. Fees can get pricey—especially for wedding parties—and most freelance makeup artists pocket the entire sum. That means the amount for services should be more than enough for a fair payment. Of course, if your MUA wow’ed you and you have the means, tip away.

Nail Services

20% for most mani-pedi sessions: In general, a 20% tip is appropriate at a nail salon, whether or not you frequent a high-end boutique or an in-and-out shop. If you have more than one technician, your best bet is to tip at the checkout counter and ask that the teller or manager divide the payment equally.

Up it for discounted services: Discounts and special offers are especially common for nail services. If you’re taking advantage of one, compute your tip based on what the original price of the service.

Consider the work involved: If you’re only getting a polish change, you’ll still want to provide gratuity, but you can go less than the 20% norm. Likewise, you may consider tipping more for a no-chip service, since the extra work to remove and apply no-chip polish takes more effort.** **

Skin care

20%, or round up to $5 for lower-cost services: Even though waxing services often cost less than other salon services, tip the standard amount. You don’t want to upset the person does your bikini wax, right? Also note, even if your service was only $10 or $20 (i.e. eyebrow waxes), consider rounding up to an even $5 out of courtesy.

Stick to 20% even for pricier services: The same old standard goes for more expensive services like facials and massages. Tip more for technicians who do an excellent job, and those you plan to return to.

One last tip: Even if you don’t like the end results or your service felt rushed, still leave a tip. However, talk to a manager to resolve the issue. They may comp your next service or provide a goodwill discount. You can also request another stylist or clinician for your next appointment, but to remain in good standing with the salon overall, gratuity is a must for every service.