One of the most confusing aspects of visiting a spa or salon, or getting your makeup done in a department store is calculating the tip for the many different beauty professionals you encounter.
There are many opinions about the when, why, and how much to tip, and this is my guide based on 21 years as an industry professional, spa operator/owner, salon manager, and creative director of a cosmetics company.
When: On every visit. They should offer to take your jacket, get you a beverage, and, of course, ensure you are moved from stylist to colourist with ease.
Why: These staff are usually paid minimum wage or are apprentices and have no opportunity to augment their income through retail commissions or actually performing services.
How much: $1-$2 per assistant you have (usually one for shampoo and one for blowdry, but sometimes it's the same person).
Some salons have a "tip out" policy for assistants, so be sure to ask. If the salon already takes a cut of all stylists'/colourists' tips to give to the assistants, there is no need to give an additional amount yourself.
When: On every visit, except bang trims, as long as they are running on time and provide the style you want. Additionally, an end-of-year tip equal to the price of one hair cut or colour is customary.
Why: These staff run the show—they can get you last-minute appointments, squeeze you in on a busy day, and will even come in on a day off for a client who tips well.
How much: The more senior the staff member the less you should tip. A junior stylist/colourist earns about 30% of every service they provide and their prices are often low. A senior stylist can make as much as 55% of every service they provide and their prices are often very high. The more high end the salon, the more these professionals can earn. For a junior stylist/colourist, I suggest 10% of the service price + an end-of-year cash gift. For a senior stylist, I suggest 5% + an end-of-year cash gift.
When: On every visit. They should be running on time and provide an exceptional experience.
Why: In most spas, estheticians work for a set salary—they do not earn a percentage of the services they perform like salon staff do. Regardless of whether they do a manicure for you or a whole day of services, they are paid the exact same money for the day. They are incentivized with retail product commissions, but these usually amount to between 3%-10% of the selling price of the products. The average salary for an esthetician is just under $32,000 per year.
How much: Depending on how amazing the experience is I suggest 10%-15% of the service price provided by the esthetician. Sometimes, in a spa, you will see several estheticians on one visit—each one should be tipped as per the service they performed and the experience they provided.
Why: RMTs are considered health care professionals and, as such, they are compensated very well. The most recent industry reports show that full time RMTs are paid, on average, $72, 000 per year. Like a nurse, lab tech, or any other health care professional, tipping is inappropriate.
How much: $0
Makeup Artists (spa and department store):
Why: Makeup artists are evaluated by the amount of product they sell each week. How many services they perform is not usually part of the evaluation equation, although the more services they perform, the more chances they have to sell makeup. This is why more spas are offering free makeup services these days, and why department stores have never charged for them.
How much: No tip, but always purchase a product. Even if it is just a lipstick—the makeup artist is evaluated on how many products their clients buy. If you really think the makeup artist did an amazing job, and you want to say thank you, purchase a product equal to the amount you would have tipped. The longer the makeup artist spends with you (and the more they teach you about how to do your makeup), the bigger the purchase should be. A general rule is: 1 product for every 15 minutes they spend with you. Of course, with that said, make sure you are getting your makeup done by an artist working with a brand that is in your budget.
Beauty Busted blogger, Daniel Thompson, is on tour. Come have all of your beauty questions answered, and a personalized makeup look created just for you!