Tipping etiquette varies across different industries, so learning when and how much to tip for appointments can be a tricky dance. You don’t want to make things awkward for you or your provider or ruin a relaxing spa day because you’re unsure how or when to offer a tip.

Let’s admit it, we’ve all been there before: You research the best massage studio or hair salon in your area. You find their booking page and schedule your appointment online. You show up for the appointment, have a great experience, and now it’s time to check out. 

How — and, more importantly, how much — do you tip? And what does your masseuse or hair stylist expect?

Different service providers across different industries expect different things when it comes to tipping. So to help you feel comfy at checkout, we researched some of the biggest service-based industries to see what they expect — and to make sure your spa day isn’t ruined by a clumsy tipping moment.

Massage Therapists

Massages are all about your time to relax. You’ve worked hard, your muscles are sore, and you want a blissful bit of relief for an hour or so. You certainly don’t want to be worrying about calculating a gratuity in your head or if you have enough money for a tip.

Here’s the skinny: Whether it’s a relaxing spa day on vacation or a recurring deep tissue massage from your favorite masseuse in town, your provider is more than likely going to be expecting a tip. 

Since your therapist is providing a service, a tip is considered customary. And since only a portion of what you pay for the service goes to the provider, you’ll also want to keep in mind that a little extra tip can go a long way to help secure your provider’s income. (If the business doesn’t accept tips, they should have that policy displayed at the register to remove any guesswork.)

How much to tip for a massage?

Massage therapy tends to fall under the hospitality category, unless it’s a medical-related massage, so it’s considered proper etiquette to tip at the hospitality rate of 20%. Cash is generally preferred as well, as that cash goes directly to the provider right then — instead of the provider waiting to see the gratuity on their paycheck.

Extra Credit: We even tracked down a resource for how to handle tipping on some of those “gray area” situations, like paying for a massage with a coupon or receiving a massage as part of an “all-inclusive” package. 

Hair Stylists/Barbers

You love your hair stylist and barbers for the way they can make you feel special, for the products or styles they recommend, and maybe as someone you just enjoy chatting with when you come in — especially when they make a haircut much more than just another haircut.

So you want to show your appreciation, but you’re unsure how much to tip for a haircut or what your stylist would expect when it comes to gratuity.

How much to tip for a haircut?

Amy Abramite of Chicago’s Maxine Salon recommends tipping between 15 to 20% of your total service cost. She also adds that if your stylist happens to be coming to your home for an appointment, you should double your tip for the extra time and effort of coming to you.

Just getting a quick bang trim at no cost? You still want to think about a tip. Even if it’s just a quick service, it takes time out of your stylist’s day. So consider $5 to $10 as a nice gesture of appreciation. 

Plus, remember that tips not only serve as a substantial portion of a barber’s or hair stylist’s income — they also help hair stylists and barbers feel how much they are valued and appreciated.

Extra Credit: Since not all hair salons and barbershops have a way to accept tips via credit or debit card, Cosmopolitan recommends avoiding any awkward tipping moment at checkout by hitting up the ATM before your appointment, so you have cash on hand.

Nail Technicians

Tipping at a nail salon is common practice. Manicurists and pedicurists provide a service like hair stylists or massage therapists, so you want to make sure you are compensating them accordingly. Besides, who wouldn’t want to offer a little extra “thank you” after an amazing pedicure — especially after what they do with your feet?

How much to tip for a manicure or pedicure?

Experts at RealSimple recommend tipping your nail technician anywhere from 15% to 25% for a manicure or pedicure. 20% seems to be the norm, and if you had a fantastic experience, you can always give a little more.

What if your experience wasn’t a happy one or your technician didn’t do what you were hoping for? The folks at Blossom Nail Spa put it this way:

“While tips help make a nail tech’s job rewarding, they are not enough to teach them how to be better at their craft. Nail salon technicians welcome constructive criticism from their clients; however, any specific feedback ideally should be communicated verbally and not in the form of a tip.”

While 20% seems customary for a manicure or pedicure, if you are receiving both a manicure and a pedicure, you should treat both services as if they were provided by separate technicians and tip accordingly.

Extra Credit: Don’t forget, even if you booked your appointment with a Groupon to receive a discount on your manicure, you still want to tip based on the full price of the service. 

Estheticians

Absolutely tip your esthetician. They’re the ones whose job it is — by their job description — to “beautify your skin.” So if your esthetician makes you feel and look more beautiful, then wouldn’t you want to make sure you’re passing along the proper “thank you”?

How much to tip for a facial?

Estheticians offer everything from facials to chemical peels and waxing, and the tip for each service can vary.

For sugaring services or facials, 18% seems to be a fair minimum tip. For a waxing service — which can be a little more up close and personal — the beauty experts at Allure suggest 20% or more to be the going rate. 

In general, the tipping etiquette folks at Emily Post suggest 15-20% for spa services such as facials and waxings.

Extra Credit: Keep in mind that some spas ban tipping to help eliminate any awkward experience or stress at checkout, so do your best to learn the tipping expectations at your specific salon, then go from there.

The Big Tipping Takeaway

While there’s not a hard and fast rule for tipping across all the various industries out there, there’s always room to show some extra love to your service providers. You can do this with grace and respect and avoid that awkward tipping moment by taking the time to plan ahead for your appointment and by knowing what’s expected for gratuity — no matter what service you’re booking.


PS: Etiquette for Getting Tipped — How to Increase Tips While Avoiding “That” Conversation

If you are the service provider and/or small business owner, you know the awkwardness around tipping applies to your side of things as well. You want to increase revenue without blatantly asking for a tip or coming off as pushy. So — what do you do?

#1: Sell More

Selling more products, package deals, or add-on services or “upselling” increases the overall amount of the bill and the potential tip. So if your clients are already going to tip 15%–25%, then a larger bill would give you a bigger tip. Another thing to consider: if you feel like you’re relying on the whims of clients and their tips — it might be a sign that you’re overdue for a price increase (here’s our explainer on when to raise your rates). 

Of course, you want to be genuine about your suggestions and the products you’re selling. As the expert, they trust your opinion and make the purchase accordingly. But recommending the products or services you believe a client needs is a win-win for you both. 

#2: Say “Thank You” More

If you keep a tip jar around, maybe at the register or at your workstation, make sure you put a nice little “Thank You” there for clients to see. And of course, be courteous and kind and thank your clients for coming in for their appointment and booking with you. 

Genuine appreciation is contagious, so when you show your gratitude to your clients, they’ll offer the same to you.

#3: Put Tipping in Your Client’s Hands

The best way to eliminate the awkward tipping conversation is by putting the option to tip right in your client’s hands. A lot of payment processors out there have different options for leaving tips as part of the checkout process.

If you happen to be using Schedulicity as your scheduling platform for appointments, you already have access to a tool called Norm. With Norm, you can send the bill via text right to your client’s phone. They can then confirm the bill, add the gratuity amount they’d like, then finish checking out all on their own.

It’s a great way to speed up checkout and increase tips!