How Much to Tip at the Nail Salon: Nail Salon Etiquette

woman painting her own fingernails
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When you’re at the nail salon and the aesthetician is done with your nails, there’s always a slightly awkward moment where you’re fumbling in your bag, wondering how much you should tip.

Well, this guide is aimed at solving this problem for you once and for all. Below, we talk about how much to tip nail salon stylists for different services, including pedicure and nail paint.

Should You Tip at the Nail Salon?

Most people wonder if getting their nails done is the same as getting a haircut or a blow-dry. Do you need to tip your manicurist or nail aesthetician? Yes, you do.

According to Julie Kandalec, who does celebrity manicures in New York City and has founded the Masterclass Nail Academy, “The tip should be part of the final price that a client expects to pay,” she says. “For example, if your service costs $50, you should see it as costing $60.”

Therefore, you should pay at the nail salon like you would at a spa treatment or a hair salon. It’s not only good etiquette but also helps you foster a good relationship with your nail aesthetician.

Building Wealth

More importantly, nail technicians do not bring home a lot of money. According to Nails Magazine, the average earning of a nail technician per week is $653. However, 74% of these technicians said they provide their tools, equipment and supplies, spending up to $400 a month on the essentials necessary to perform their job.

Good To Know

Even if you use Groupon or another coupon app to get the nail services, you should tip the manicurist. In that case, you need to base your tip on the actual fee the service costs and not the discounted price.

How Much to Tip Nail Salon Stylists?

You should tip 15% to 20% at the nail salon, according to Jodi R.R. Smith, the founder of Mannersmith and an etiquette consultant.

She says that “If you are supremely pleased, you can tip more, or if you are disappointed, you may tip less.” Therefore, your tip amount can increase or decrease based on the level of service you have received from the nail aesthetician.

Meanwhile, Christa Cole, a nail artist based in Los Angeles, says you should tip 20% or more since anything under that could make the nail artist feel underappreciated.

She says, “If your nail tech did an amazing job, please don’t hesitate to tip them what you feel they deserve. Showing your nail tech that they are appreciated will make them go above and beyond for you every time.”

Establish a Solid Relationship and Tip Accordingly

It’s also important to note that your relationship with the nail artist also determines what you tip them. For instance, if you have a good relationship with them, you might tip 20%.

But if you are in the process of developing a relationship, you might want to tip more.

At an Austin, TX salon named Lacquer, nail technicians get an average of 18% tip for their services. Carla Hatler, the owner, says “It’s really based on the relationship that [our customers] have [with our nail techs] and how great they felt their service was.”

Building Wealth

Meanwhile, at a Nashville, TN salon called Poppy & Monroe, customers pay 20% in tips up to 98% of the time.

Kops, the owner, says, “If for any reason we don’t [provide great service], then I can understand a lower gratuity, but I would say 95 to 98 percent of the time, gratuity is 20 percent and above.”

Therefore, the tipping percentage is entirely consistent across all states in the country. While the customers may be expected to pay a higher tip in some high-end metropolitan areas, the national average is 15% to 20%.

What If There Are Two Nail Technicians?

If there are two nail technicians, you need to tip them both. For instance, if one did your pedicure while the other painted your nails, you should tip both technicians 15% to 20%– depending on the service–individually.

What If the Service Is Bad?

Tati Dantzler, the owner of Tati’s Nails XoXo and a nail technician, says, “Don’t get me wrong–you don’t have to tip if you aren’t satisfied with the service.”

However, she says you should not simply walk out of the salon without tipping unless you first discuss your problem with the manager.

If you have received poor service or something did not go according to plan, tell the manager so that they can avoid such situations in the future and take whatever steps may be appropriate to remedy the issue at hand.

It’s good for the business to know when they’re not doing so well, and they may feel obliged to make it up to you. A true win-win!

How Much to Tip for Pedicure?

On average, you should tip between 15% and 20% for a pedicure.

Think of what the nail aesthetician had to do with your feet and the extra effort they might have put in to make you feel more comfortable.

When deciding between 15% and 20% (or more), you should consider the following factors:

  • Experience: How was your experience at the salon? Did you get a complimentary drink while getting your services? If you had a stellar experience and the pedicurist went out of their way to meet your needs, you ought to go ahead and tip 20% or more.
  • Number of Services: You should also consider the number of services you got done at the nail salon. Did you only go in for fresh nail paint? In that case, 15% is ideal. But if you also get a pedicure and a manicure, you should tip 20%.

Now you know how much to tip for a pedicure or regular nail service. Make a nail technician’s day on your next visit to the nail salon by showing your appreciation with an appropriate tip.

Final Take

Tipping is always encouraged in the service industry, and it’s something you should consider when calculating the total cost of getting the service done. How much you tip is up to you, though you should take into account the quality of the service you received. It’s also a great way to build relationships with your nail technicians.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Scott Jeffries is a seasoned technology professional based in Florida. He writes on the topics of business, technology, digital marketing and personal finance. After earning his bachelor’s in Management Information Systems with a minor in Business, Scott spent 15 years working in technology. He's helped startups to Fortune 100 companies bring software products to life. When he's not writing or building software, Scott can be found reading or spending time outside with his kids.

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