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Tipping Etiquette 101: How Much You Should Tip Your Beauty Practitioner?

“To tip or not to tip?” seems to be the existential question on everyone’s mind lately, with many heated debates on whether the service industry’s expectations for gratuity have gotten out of hand. This is especially true when it comes to how much one should be tipping their beauty practitioners.

Times are tough. The beauty industry and its workers in particular are taking some of the hardest economic hits these past few years. According to a news brief done by the U.S. Labor Center, 45 percent of nail salons in New York reopened their doors with just five employees or less and 80 percent of New York nail artists are working reduced hours. States such as California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have reported less work in all nail salons that are still open as well. Hair salon revenue, according to a report done by IBIS World, has been declining since 2020. Fewer people are simply inclined to book salon services now, making tips essential for the livelihood of many.

“The economy is a mess right now,” celebrity makeup artist and hairstylist T.Cooper tells Vogue. “Inflation has caused many salons to raise their prices. Most people are struggling just to get by in this economy, so the tips may not be as generous as they once were. Many people can’t afford to tip as much, when they can barely afford the service.”

While it is always encouraged to tip when you can, most beauty practitioners understand if you’re not able to tip as much as you’d like (or even at all), and encourage you to come in for a service anyway and open up that dialogue with whatever professional is tending to your needs. A booking is still work after all. “Clients should never have to worry about whether they are tipping enough; they are there for a self-care day,” says grooming stylist and STMNT ambassador Jovan Figueroa. “It’s absolutely up to the salon owner at the end of the day to build pricing that supports the salon and compensates their entire team accordingly.”

With that in mind, below, the experts break down proper tipping etiquette. Read on to see how much you should tip if you’re able to and what you can do instead if tipping is just not in your budget right now.


Suggested Tip: 20 to 35 percent of services rendered

Celebrity makeup artist Andrea Tiller says it’s a good rule of thumb to tip your makeup artist anywhere from 20 to 35 percent. “As makeup artists, we go above and beyond the call of duty to make our clients feel beautiful and powerful,” she explains. “We give them the boost of confidence they need for their special event. It’s more than just makeup, it’s super personal.”

Makeup artists sometimes employ an assistant or other help to prep a client. If this is the case, you’ll also want to include them when tipping. “I feel it's in good taste to tip the key artist and assistant separately or if tipping in full kindly let the key artist know how much is allocated for the assistant,” she says. But if you’re not able to tip as much as you’d like, she says there are other ways to show your appreciation. “Refer our service to others,” she suggests. “Write an amazing review or simply [give] us a thank you card or tag us on social media.”


Suggested Tip: 18 to 25 percent of services rendered

When it comes to your brows, there are several ways to approach tipping. Celebrity brow artist and founder of his eponymous brand Joey Healy says that the standard tip to leave is 20 percent, but it can range anywhere from 18 to 25 percent depending on how much you like your service. But he says that a lot of his own clients don’t leave a tip every time they go see him for a service. Instead, they opt for one large tip at the holiday season.

“My doorman [for example], I don’t tip them every time they open the door for me, but I do it for Christmas,” Healy says. “So that’s another way to do it.”

Kristie Streicher, celebrity brow artist and founder of KS&CO, agrees and adds that if you’re not able to tip a lot for a service, brow artists will always appreciate referrals or when you leave a positive Google review. “[It’s] the gift that keeps giving and reaches more people,” she says.

And speak up if you’re not happy with your brow treatment. “Communicate with the service provider,” Streicher says. “It gives them an opportunity to learn from it and they can have a chance to rectify the service or comp a future service.”

Hair Cut & Styling

Suggested Tip: 20 percent of services rendered

T.Cooper says that how you tip hairdressers doesn’t really differ based on what type of cut you want, so 20 percent of the cost is the magic number to tip your stylist. This also applies to styling services such as blowouts, braids, and protective styles. If you would like to show your stylist some extra love for the several hours it might take for those protective styles (braids and protective styles are some of the most-time consuming services, she says), it’s always appreciated.

You’ll also want to tip anyone who helps prep your hair before a service, such as the assistant who shampoos your hair or helps with the drying process, since they’re not getting paid as much as the main stylist. “Showing them love is a very kind gesture, because they usually don’t have their own chair or their rates are much lower than the master stylists,” says T.Cooper. “[This] helps offset their lower salary. I know several assistants who were able to make ends meet because of the additional cash from their tips.” A decent tip can be around $5, but can go up to as much as $20 for higher-end salons.

But what happens if you hate the end result after a styling session? It depends. If you’re going back to the same stylist to fix a bad cut, she doesn’t think tipping is necessary and can be optional. But if you’re going to someone new to fix someone else’s mistake, she recommends tipping the standard 20%.

If you don’t have the extra cash to tip as much, she says honesty is the best policy and to be upfront with your stylist. If they’ve been with you for a long time, they’ll appreciate your candor.

“The stylist is not left wondering if they did something wrong or if you didn’t enjoy the service [if you don’t leave a tip],” she says. “Everyone in America with a pulse knows that prices for everything have gone up astronomically, but salaries have not kept up the rising costs. The pandemic devastated the beauty industry. So if anyone can understand, a hairstylist can.”

Hair Coloring

Suggested Tip: 20 percent of services rendered

The same tipping standard for cutting and styling can also be applied to any hair color service. Olivia Cassnova, colorist and co-owner of IGK Salon, says that on average you’ll want to tip about 20% of the coloring cost, but there’s always room to tip a little bit less or more depending on how happy you are with your new color. It also doesn’t matter if you’re going in for a simple gloss or a full bleach treatment; the 20 percent tipping standard stands regardless of what type of color treatment you’re getting.

For assistants who shampoo your hair, she recommends tipping an extra $5 to $10. You can bump it up to $20 if they also help with applying a gloss or help with the blow dry. She explains that tips aren’t necessarily shared amongst everyone. Stylists and colorists can sometimes choose to split it with the assistant that has helped them for the day, but it’s not always a guarantee. Because a majority of service providers only take a percentage of what the service actually costs (which she says is normally less than 50 percent), tipping is essential for the stylists and everyone helping. “Service providers don’t (typically) get paid by the hour or salary, so they’re entirely dependent on their clients and tips for a big part of their income,” she says.


Suggested Tip: You Decide

Hot take: Tipping for this service should be decided by you. While it is always encouraged to stay the course and tip the customary 20 percent, many stylists believe it’s ultimately up to the customer on how much—if any at all—they should be adding onto their final bill. “Tipping is an action that a client is willing to give based upon the satisfaction of the service they receive,” says Figueroa. “Whether it’s a simple buzzcut or a complex mod cut, I charge a price that I feel accounts for my time accordingly. Any tip I receive, regardless of the amount, is ‘keyword: additional’ and much appreciated [and] never expected.”

Figueroa adds that it’s understandable that people’s budgets right now are tight and says that booking a service, when beauty services are usually the first thing people let go of when going through rough financial periods, is a gift in itself. Even if you’re only able to tip just $1, it’s something that stylists shouldn’t discount. “I just hope that clients don’t hesitate to book services because they have anxiety about not tipping enough,” he says. “Book the service. I know I speak for my stylists [when I say] that they’d rather have someone in their chair than no one.”


Suggested Tip: 15 to 20 percent of services rendered

Getting a tattoo takes much longer than one would think. As New York City-based tattoo artist Pobi explains, it involves a lot of hours pre-planning before ink ever touches a client’s skin. Tipping shows consideration for the amount of effort an artist puts in your new ink. “Tattoo artists go through in-shop or email consultation, they spend hours to finish a drawing, get a confirmation from a client, and fix the design if they have to,” says Pobi. “So it’s not just a tattoo session for the artist. It takes extra hours just to finish one tattoo session.”

TrudyLines, tattoo artist at Bang Bang Tattoo, agrees and says that a tip of anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of the total cost is industry standard. If you end up not liking your new tattoo and have to go in for a touchup or correction (though both artists encourage being thorough in the consultation phase to minimize the chances of this happening), there are a few things to consider. “If you got the tattoo already and don’t like what you’ve got, you’re more than welcome to express [that] to your artist, and not pay the tip or [try to] adjust the price of your tattoo,” says Pobi. Going back to the same artist who did the original tattoo, a mistake done by the artist, or you changing your mind about something you originally agreed on can all play a role in your decision to tip or not, but TrudyLines says that a tip regardless of those things show appreciation and respect for the time and effort spent on the service. And for those low on cash and not able to tip as much as they’d want to, a simple meaningful thank you goes a long way.


Suggested Tip: 20 percent of services rendered

The tipping standard for a manicure, pedicure, or whatever nail service of your choice is on par with what you’d tip for hair, makeup, spa, and other beauty treatments: about 20 percent of the cost of the service. But it can vary based on how complex your service is (e.g. intricate nail art or massage add ons) and how long your appointment goes for. Amy Ling Lin, CEO and founder of nail salon sundays, says that tipping isn’t solely based on what type of service you opt for. Instead, Lin believes your tip is a reflection of your overall experience and the quality of customer service provided. “Regardless of whether it’s a simple color manicure or an elaborate nail art session, a manicurist’s professionalism, attentiveness, and skill often play a more significant role in determining the tip amount,” she says.

While tipping is optional, tips make a substantial portion of the nail technician’s income. Tipping is also the best way to help offset lower salaries and encourage better service overall. “It motivates and incentivizes beauty service providers to maintain high standards and strive for excellence in their work,” says Lin.


Suggested Tip: Depends on the setting

When it comes to getting a massage, Sophie Bolvary, licensed massage therapist at SoulBeing Wellness in New York City, believes that the setting determines whether a tip is necessary or not. “If you’re having a massage in a spa, it’s helpful to know that the therapist is likely splitting almost half of the service with the house. A 20 percent tip for a satisfying massage at a spa takes care of the therapist directly,” Bolvary says. “In my experience this rule of thumb changes in a private practice setting. When you have a session with a massage therapist at a private office [or] studio where the therapist is renting space independently and charging a rate they created for themselves, tipping is totally optional and not necessary.”

She goes on to explain that your massage provider is making 40 to 50 percent less than the actual treatment cost if performed at a spa. Factoring that with other costs, such as classes to obtain and maintain a license, tipping becomes essential. “The body and wellness care industry is larger than ever and becoming more exclusive and expensive as it expands. It is my personal belief that if you are someone who can comfortably afford the massage service at the spa/establishment you want to go to, you should tip the therapist for their work,” she says.

If you’re strapped for cash, Bovary recommends cheaper options that make massages more accessible. First, consider massage schools in your city and utilize their clinics. “[It’s] a wonderful opportunity to receive a massage (free of charge or at an extremely discounted rate) from someone who is nearly graduated [and] has all the formal training under their belt and prepping for their license exams,” she says. You can also look into community-based wellness groups where she says services are offered in more simplistic settings and for a fraction of the cost of a spa. You can also schedule a session with a massage therapist at their private practice, outside of the spa setting so that you have the opportunity to discuss a lower or sliding-scale rate that better suits your budget. “Many of us are open to that,” she says.


Suggested Tip: 20 percent of services rendered

The standard 20 percent tip also applies for a facial. Samantha Susca, lead esthetician at Casa Cipriani New York Spa, says that if a facial service is comped or discounted, you’ll still want to tip 20% off the regular price. But tipping in general is not a requirement. Susca says that it’s truly about what you feel comfortable tipping with and can be adjusted based on how much you liked your service.

Even though it’s up to you how much—if at all—you want to tip, she does encourage doing it as spa service providers only get a paid percentage of the treatment. “I’ve worked in many upscale and well known facial salons and spas where even though treatments begin at $250, the esthetician is receiving as low as 10 to 12 percent of that,” she says. “And [that] is often not even off the full price of the service.”

But if you only had enough to splurge on a service and have nothing left for the tip, she says the very least you can do is leave a detailed positive review on Yelp or refer friends to your facialist. You can also give your facialist some love on IG, which she says helps build a relationship that hopefully continues past one session. “A lasting relationship and loyal clientele is better than any tip,” she says.

The original article can be found on Vogue US.

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