Nail Salon Etiquette: How Much Do You Tip Nail Tech Workers?

Nail Salon Etiquette: How Much Do You Tip Nail Tech Workers?

As a client coming in for any type of service, giving a tip is how you say “thank you.” Figuring out how much to tip, who to tip, and when to tip can turn a relaxing mani and pedi into a stressful situation. We’re here to give you the lowdown on what’s expected when it comes time to give the tip, how to provide the greatest service ensuring the best tip possible, and some basic salon etiquette to follow. 

How To Tip

You should be tipping anyone who provided a service to you. If you went for a self care day and hit the salon for an eyebrow wax, manicure, and pedicure, you should be tipping separately on each one of those services. 

What to Tip

When in doubt, tip 20%. This percentage is the average go-to when it comes to tipping and you can’t go wrong with 20%. Use your better judgement. If you think your nail tech went above and beyond for you, feel free to tip a few dollars extra. It won’t go unnoticed. 

If you are at a loss and you feel unsure about what to give, you can always ask. When you go up to pay after your services are finished, ask the person at the desk what you should tip. It will be less awkward than asking the nail tech. Honesty is always the best policy, and it’s okay to not know what is expected as long as you are making an effort to find out. 

The “Verbal Tip”

There’s a concept service workers like to call “the verbal tip” which is when a client repeats what a great job the tech did and is full of “thank you’s,” but it is not reflected in their tip. Don’t be that person. 

Bring Cash 

Always remember to have cash on hand for the tip. When you tip on a credit card, it can take weeks for that tip to get to the nail technician. They are also subject to credit card fees, too. 

Don’t Skimp

If the same technician provided all of your services, don’t clump their three tips together and toss them a $10 bill. Instead, take the time to add up all three of the services provided to you, and multiply it by 0.20 to get their 20% tip. 

Here’s an example: 

Gel Manicure: $30 service ($30 x 0.20 = $6.00) 

Pedicure: $35 service ($35 x .0.20 = $7.00) 

Eyebrow Wax: $12 service ($12 x 0.20 = $2.40) 

$6.00 + $7.00 + $2.50 = $15.40 tip for the person who provided all three of those services. 

If you go in for a manicure and you had two separate nail technicians work on your nails, for example: one individual filed and shaped, then another came in to apply your gel polish — that is the only tip that can be lumped together. Tip them both separately out of the 20% for the service and use your better judgement to divide up the sum. 

Round Up

When people work for tips, they remember who tips them good and who tips...not so good. When you tip well, you show that you appreciate their time, their skills, and their talent. Rounding up on the tip is a great way to show your respect for their trade and the effort they put into their work. 

Getting a Great Tip

As a nail technician, there are some strategies you can use to increase your chances of getting a bigger tip. 

Introduce Yourself

When you introduce yourself to your client you’re adding a personal touch to their service. When you make eye contact, share your name, and ask them their name it shows you are invested in creating a relationship with them.  

Read the Room

Some people come into salons just wanting to relax and enjoy their service in peace and quiet. Be super in tune with the vibes they are giving off. Do they close their eyes and lean their head back? That’s a sign they aren’t up for a chat. Try your best to match their energy. 

Give Your Undivided Attention

We know it can be hard especially on busy days to focus solely on one client at a time, but this is paramount. Try your best to get other tasks out of the way between appointments so you can give your clients your undivided attention. If you are distracted or keep getting interrupted, your client may think you don’t care and they may feel like they are getting ripped off. 

Ask Them Their Preferences

When you ask a client how they like their nails done, it shows them that you genuinely care that they are happy. Some clients like to keep their toenails long when others prefer them clipped short. By asking, you are ensuring you and the client are on the same page with their expectations and the desired outcome. 

Don’t Rush

Unless the client comes in saying they have somewhere to be very soon, take your time with each service. As a nail tech first starting out, quality is more important than quantity. You will build a roster of regular clientele over time, so put generous effort in and be sure you are providing quality work. Take time to ask them what scent of lotion they like, or rub on some cuticle oil. 

Nail Salon Etiquette

Going to a nail salon and having a great experience is often a two-way street. In order to get the most out of your service, there are some things the client should be doing too! 

Make an Appointment

Many nail salons welcome walk-ins, but it is a best practice to call ahead. While they may still accept you for a walk-in, they may be busy and you could find yourself waiting longer. If they squeeze you in, there’s a chance you won’t get the best experience, they won’t be able to take their time, and may be forced to rush through it. 

Making an appointment ensures that they can accept you, will have adequate time to complete your services, and can be properly prepared. 

Communicate if You are Unhappy

If you receive a service that turned out to be much less than to your satisfaction, tell the owner. While tipping is a result of a job well done, it is also customary to tip. Because of this, you shouldn't be withholding the tip because you aren’t pleased with the outcome. By all means tip more if you are very pleased, but don’t withhold the tip because you don’t feel like they added enough coats of polish. 

Don't resort to Yelp or other review websites to let out your grief, instead address it with management. Do your best to address your qualms before the service is complete so that hopefully it can be resolved. If not, and management isn’t helping — simply try out a new nail salon next time. 

Stay Off Your Phone

While it’s one thing to scroll quietly through social media while getting a pedicure, be sure you are peeking up from your device every so often to see how the service is moving along. If during the whole pedicure you haven’t checked out the shape of your toenails or the way the color looks — and then when it's complete you realize you don’t like it, you are at fault for not paying attention. 

Additionally, when you are getting a manicure, do your best to resist the urge to pick up your phone. While you are in the manicure chair, you’re essentially handing your hands over to the technician until the service is complete. Try your best not to interrupt their process. 

Moreover, FaceTiming or playing videos loudly from your cell phone is a major no-no. Chances are there are other people in the salon along with you who don’t want to be disturbed by noisy conversations. 

In Conclusion

To have a good experience at a nail salon, it isn’t only the nail technician's responsibility. The client has some obligations to ensure their experience is up to par as well. Follow these tips and insight from Valentino Beauty Pure to have a great time both as the nail tech and the client. And share them with a friend! 


  1. Here's How Much You Should Tip at Your Next Beauty Appointment Here's How Much You Should Tip | Bustle
  2. Nail salon etiquette: How much should you tip? | Today 
  3. How Much to Tip at the Nail Salon, Now and Always | Real Simple