Have you ever wondered how much to tip a hairdresser, masseuse, or manicurist? Take the guesswork out of beauty services tipping with our guide.

By Dan Nosowitz
May 22, 2019

Tipping at restaurants is pretty clear-cut, or at least, the rules are well known: 20 percent for normal to good service, maybe a touch more for great service. But restaurants aren’t the only places where tipping is expected; the beauty services we rely on—things like salon haircuts, colorings, blowouts, waxings, manicures, and massages—should also include a tip. 

Listen to this story on your Alexa or Google Home!

When deciding how much to tip a hairdresser, it's important to remember first that, as with waiters, many beauty professionals rely on tips because they don’t have a typical salaried job. There are a few different ways that hairdressers get paid. Some are simple hourly rates. Many salons use a commission-based system, in which hairdressers earn a percentage of the money they bring in for the salon. Some use a combination of a low hourly rate and commission, a bit like a restaurant.

Image courtesy of Getty.

Also consider that many hairdressers are more like vendors at a fair, with their own booth. They’re independent of the salon, and rent space from the salon, all while paying for their own supplies and equipment. In other words, it's not unusual for them to spend thousands of dollars per month on rental fees and supplies alone.

There’s just as much variation throughout the rest of the beauty industry; it’s a wild, unpredictable, and variable field. Given that, it’s pretty obvious that you should tip your beauty professional. So how much should you tip a hairdresser, and other beauty and grooming professionals, at the salon? We asked the experts to weigh in.

Is There a Standard Tipping Rate at Salons and Spas?

“Tipping is a funny thing, especially in the spa industry,” says Elena Duque, the owner of BodyBrite spa in Bayside, New York. “Some people feel they don’t need to tip or give very little because the services are already costly.” Duque suggests 20 percent as a baseline tip for most services.

“Customarily, 15-20 percent means a job well done, and the service was performed to expectation,” says Hannah McCormick, of Hair by Hannah AZ, in Phoenix. Most people we spoke to for this article suggested a range just about like what you’d expect in restaurants—between 15 and 25 percent. Duque also noted that more intimate services, like a Brazilian wax, might warrant a slightly higher tip.

In fact, that 20 percent rule is appropriate for just about every beauty service: hair styling and coloring, manicures and pedicures, massages. That is, if you’re being worked on by a single person.

Should I Tip Everyone at the Salon Who Helped Me?

For some beauty services, you’ll have multiple people waiting on you. Maybe someone to wash your hair, a stylist, maybe even an assistant or coat check. You can certainly stick with a standard tip 20 percent of your final bill—but it would be considerate and appreciated to tip three or five dollars to the non-stylists who worked with you. (Sometimes the salon will divide tips up themselves; feel free to ask when you make your appointment.)

How Much Should I Tip When Using a Coupon?

Coupons are a common promotional tactic for beauty businesses, and a great way to get customers in the door. But beauty is a business of razor-thin margins, and these businesses might well be losing money on coupons. Make sure to tip 20 percent of what the non-adjusted price would be. So if you’re going for a $100 haircut, and you get 20 percent off in a coupon? Tip $20, not $16.

Most important of all is to remember that beauty professionals put a lot of effort into helping you look and feel your very best (case in point: that gorgeous new cut that makes your gray hair look amazing). They deserve—and depend on—your tips.

Comments (3)

December 25, 2019
How much should you tip if your stylist owns the salon?
July 23, 2019
I’ve worked in high end salons, and the owner did accept tips. Why not, he/she has more expenses to cover in running the business. Also, usually the owner is considered the top stylist in the salon.
June 23, 2019
I wonder about tipping the salon owner, who is my hairdresser. I remember my mom telling me years ago that it is not necessary to tip the owner, in fact, could be considered a bit tacky to do so--is this still the correct thinking? I do tip the shampoo attendant. Advise, please!