Show your stylist how much you appreciate them with a bonus on your bill.

By Dan Nosowitz
Updated November 25, 2020

Most people know how much to tip at a restaurant. It’s customary to give at least 20% for standard service, and maybe more for an excellent experience. But that’s not the only place to add gratuity. Any time you visit the salon, whether it’s for a haircut, coloring, blowouts, waxing, manicure, or a massage, you should be tipping your service provider. As you're deciding how much to add to your bill, it's important to remember first that, as with a wait staff, 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.

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. Plus, like many workers, the pandemic has most likely affected their income, and they haven't made as much money this year.

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 evident 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.

Hair stylist working on client's hair with facemasks
Credit: Cavan Images/Getty Images

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% as a baseline tip for most services.

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

In fact, that 20% rule is appropriate for just about every beauty service: hair styling and coloring, manicures and pedicures, massages. That is if a single person is working on you.

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, even perhaps an assistant or coat check. You can certainly stick with a standard tip of 20% 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% of what the non-adjusted price would be. So if you’re going for a $100 haircut and get 20% 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 (5)

January 11, 2021
Not tipping the owner is the craziest thing I have ever heard of! I have worked as a receptionist for a salon and the owner has so many expenses and overhead that the stylists do not. If the owner has provided a service then she/he should be given a gratuity for that service. Period.
December 9, 2020
I tip the owner(s) of my salon. It's a highly competitive business with thin profit margins, so nowadays it makes sense to tip them too.
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!