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

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When you’re at the nail salon and the esthetician 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 esthetician? 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 esthetician.

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More importantly, nail technicians do not bring home a lot of money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average earning of a manicurist and pedicurist is $14.65 per hour. About 75% of technicians report that they provide their tools, equipment and supplies.

How Much to Tip Nail Salon Stylists?

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

According to Smith, “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 esthetician.

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.”

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Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, founder of New York City salon Chillhouse, agrees. She says you should always tip 20% and notes that she always tips 30% at salons where prices are cheaper.

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.”

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.”

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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. If you got both a manicure and a pedicure, the higher tip should go to the pedicurist.

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.

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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 esthetician 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:

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.

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Cameron Cole contributed to the reporting for this article.