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 definitely disrupt the flow of your mani and pedi date or relaxing spa day.
So, how much do you tip nail techs? What is tipping etiquette at a nail salon? We’re here to give you the lowdown on what’s expected when it comes time to give a tip as well as some basic salon etiquette to follow.
How Much Does Getting Your Nails Done Cost on Average?
First, let’s dive into how much getting your nails done generally. In most areas, the average cost of getting your nails done is around $45 to $60, or depending on the artistry and complexity. (Of course, these prices heavily fluctuate if you’re adding in deluxe upgrades or advanced nail art. We think it’s totally worth it, but it’s totally up to each individual’s discretion).
It’s good to remember that acrylic nails can be a bit more expensive than gel nails, but not by much. Gel nails tend to get more pricey if you add on length enhancements as well. Type of gels used, as it can be builder gels or gel polish. All these are to be taken into consideration.
Like most other services, a tip is not included in the overall price and is to be added at the end if you so please. As with many service industries, it’s recommended to tip about 15 to 20% of the total bill.
How to Tip a Nail Tech
You should tip anyone who provides 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 Should I Consider When Tipping?
When thinking about how much to tip, consider the following factors:
- Tips are a large part of your nail technician’s take-home pay.
- Time dedicated to your service is time the tech can’t spend on a different customer.
- Particularly skilled work might deserve a little extra compensation.
- Intricate designs require more time and effort and deserve recognition.
All of these components affect how much you should tip your nail technician.
What Is the Customary Tipping Amount?
You don’t need to be a mathlete for this arithmetic! Because we can crunch those numbers for you. 🤓
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%. There are two instances where you would tip more than the standard tip amount.
One of these situations is if you buy something extremely inexpensive. An example is if you just get a polish removal, typically around $8–10 depending on the salon. With that math, the nail tech will only make a $1–2 tip on that service.
The other situation is if your service was absolutely beyond incredible. If the person performing your service went above and beyond what they were supposed to, you should consider giving them more than 20%.
Is $10 a Good Tip for Nails?
If the total for your manicure was $50, tipping $10 is a good tip since it’s 20% of the total. So, a $50 manicure would be $60, including the tip.
What Should I Tip for a Gel or Acrylic Manicure?
A gel manicure involves more labor than a traditional manicure with regular polish. It requires additional skills from the nail tech, so an extra dollar or two (even around 25%) is warranted for a gel manicure. The same applies to acrylic services.
Is it Better to Tip With Cash or Card?
As the saying goes, cash is king, which is still true today, even in a predominantly credit-and-debit-based world. Nail technicians are aware of this too, which is why many places have policies that say you can only tip your tech in cash. Since spas and salons have to pay transaction and flat fees for credit card purchases, which gets costly, cash tips are custom. However, at some salons, Venmo is also an option.
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.
Remember when our elementary teachers said we wouldn’t have calculators in our pockets? Well, we can show them wrong. Whip out your phone’s calculator! Your technician will appreciate an accurate tip.
When people work for tips, they remember who the good tippers are—and those who can’t quite muster up a generous spirit. When you tip well, you show that you appreciate their time, skills, and 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.
Nail Salon Tipping “Cheat Sheet”
We’ve given you a thorough rundown of tipping in the nail salon industry. Here’s a handy dandy cheat sheet for the next time you’re at the salon (so you can skip the mental math–you’re welcome 😏).
Now that we’ve covered the stressful art of tipping, let’s talk etiquette!
Making the Most of Your Salon Experience
Having manicured nails is a way of life, and your time at a salon is an investment. Though Emily Post isn’t here to vouch for us, we guarantee that practicing nail salon etiquette embodies nail art lifestyle and provides the best possible experience.
Now, pinkies up! 🫖 As we facilitate your next fantastic appointment.
Make an Appointment
Making an appointment ensures that the salon can accept you, will have adequate time to complete your services, and can be properly prepared. Many nail salons welcome walk-ins, but calling ahead is a best practice.
Communicate If You Are Unhappy
As with any healthy relationship, communication is key. 🔑 If you receive a service that doesn’t quite meet your expectations, tell the owner or manager (don’t worry, you’re not being a “Karen”). Don't resort to Yelp or other review websites to let out your grief. Do your best to address your qualms before the service is complete so they can be resolved.
You shouldn't withhold the tip because you aren’t pleased with the outcome. By all means, tip more if you’re tickled pink, but don’t withhold the tip because you don’t feel like they added enough coats of polish.
Stay Off Your Phone
While it’s one thing to scroll quietly through social media while getting a pedicure, be sure to peek up from your device every so often to see how the service is moving along. Honestly, if you never glance down to check the shape of your toenails or how the color looks, it’s pretty much on you for not paying attention if you don’t care for the end result. 🤷♀️
Additionally, when you are getting a manicure, do your best to resist the urge to pick up your phone. While 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. Not to mention, it can get a bit messy if you have treatment on your hands or nails!
Moreover, FaceTiming or playing videos loudly from your cell phone is a major no-no. Chances are there are other people in the salon and you who don’t want to be disturbed by noisy conversations.
Nail Tech Etiquette
A great salon experience is a two-way street; great customers deserve equally great nail techs. As a nail technician, there are some strategies you can use to improve the experience for your clients—and increase your chances of getting a bigger tip.
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
No books or starcharts are required for this reading! Some people come into salons wanting to relax and enjoy their service in peace and quiet. Be super in tune with the vibes your client gives 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–even when it’s not Gemini season.
Give Your Undivided Attention
We know it can be hard to focus solely on one client at a time, especially on busy days, but this is paramount. 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. Try your best to get other tasks out of the way between appointments so you can give your clients your undivided attention.
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 keeping their toenails long, while others prefer clipped short. By asking, you are ensuring you and the client are on the same page with their expectations and the desired outcome.
We all know Miranda Priestly doesn’t like a glacial pace, but unless the client says they have somewhere to be very soon, take your time with each service. As a nail tech first starting, quality is more important than quantity. You will build a roster of regular clientele over time, so put the 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.
Learn More About Nail Salon Etiquette with VBP
Whether on the giving or receiving end of a mani or pedi, great nail salon etiquette will help craft a great experience for everyone involved.Want to learn more about nail salon etiquette? VBP is your go-to source for everything. Our team of nail professionals and masterminds will hook you up with the tips, tricks, and insights you want to know.