Which Beauty Professionals Am I Supposed to Tip During the Holidays?

Woman washing hair

Getty Images / AleksandarNakic

Giving a holiday tip is a wonderful way to showcase your appreciation for those who provide a service to you throughout the year. But with many beauty professionals still recovering from the financial strains of last year, it’s especially important to consider gifting your beauty service provider with a little extra gratuity this season.

We know that tipping etiquette can be confusing (especially during the holiday season). That’s why we spoke to spoke to a few beauty industry experts and gathered some basic guidelines for tipping your professionals during the holidays.

Why Tip Extra During the Holidays?

Well, 'tis the season of giving. But more importantly, beauty professionals are risking their lives to earn a living and service you this year, so it's important to be cognizant of this. 

"While most people get time off from work, makeup artists, estheticians, and hair stylists, sacrifice time away from their loved ones to make money during these seasons," says Emoni Moses, Atlanta-based makeup artist and esthetician. "Not to mention, they are risking their health and safety to service clients. Sanitation is something we're taught in school, but purchasing extra sanitation products usually comes straight out of our pockets. Tipping a little extra just shows your appreciation for this sacrifice."

So, as far as we're concerned, you should definitely add your favorite beauty pros to your list of people to show appreciation to during the holidays. Add in the fact that many of the pros you love are probably heavily reliant on tips for their income, and if you don't tip them, they're missing out on wages they could've received otherwise from another client. Either way, it's a sweet gesture that's not likely to be forgotten (and maybe they'll go out of their way to give you the best cut-and-color of your life at your next appointment).

Who Deserves an Extra Tip?

It’s standard protocol to give an extra tip during the holiday season to whichever beauty professionals you work with on a regular basis. (This includes hairstylists and colorists, waxing technicians, manicurists, eyebrow specialists, massage therapists, and personal trainers.) But providing a tip to all service providers you book an appointment with this holiday season is a nice gesture.

"During the holiday season, we all like to show our love and appreciation to others," says Shay Sadrolashrafi, esthetician and social media director for wakse. "Given this time and situation, many beauty professionals are truly impacted, and that's why we recommend tipping a little extra."

"The way I handle this is always letting my clients know how much I appreciate that they choose my salon to get their services done," says Penny James, trichologist and founder of Penny James Salon. "The best tip is recommending my salon to their friends."

How Much Is Necessary?

It's completely up to you, but we (and the pros) have some guidelines that you should keep in mind. 

"Tipping should be based on what you can manage at the moment," says Tiffany Barnes, natural hair specialist. "The fact that I'm able to create an environment that I'm safe to work in, able to maintain a money flow, and maintain client trust is all I can ask for. A tip is just a plus."

If you are able to tip, the suggested amounts vary. "Based on the service that you have received by your beauty professional, it's suggested to leave a gratuity of 20%," says Sadrolashrafi. "But normally during the holiday season, it's a nice gesture to consider tipping more to those who are passionate about offering their best to their clients."

"I don't expect an extra tip, but my regulars who've seen me for years do go out of their way to show me their gratitude," adds Jaz España, colorist & extension specialist. "That might be a candle, bottle of wine, or they tip me double the usual 20% of their service."

KC Bishai, hairstylist at Eddie Arthur Salon, echoes that sentiment. "Some clients feel obliged to, and while it's always greatly appreciated, it's never expected," he says. "In my experience, it's usually double the amount they would normally tip." 

Advice on how much "double" is varies widely, of course. During the non-holiday season, you should always plan on tipping at least 15-20% of the regular price for beauty services—and then during the holiday season, you can double your usual tip or add at least an additional 10% when you go in for a service.

If you don't normally tip at all, give them a tip or a gift that's equivalent to the cost of one appointment. And if you don't have the funds, feel free to get creative—an inexpensive bottle of wine or something homemade should do the trick. Anything that tells your pros you appreciate them during the holiday season will go a long way, no matter how small. 

As a general rule of thumb, most hairstylists, manicurists, masseuses, and tattoo artists tell us that a 15-20% tip is considered standard—no matter the time of year. To show extra appreciation during the holidays, consider adding on an extra 10-20%.

What If You're Not Happy With Your Service?

It's common courtesy to tip regardless (again, remember that many of these professionals are heavily reliant—or at least partially—on tips for their income), but many beauty professionals will never want you to walk out unhappy. Some might even want you to sit and stay until you're fully satisfied and feel like you're getting your money's worth.

"If a client's unhappy, I don't want them to check out or pay for their service until they are," says España. "And I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable taking a tip from them unless they were truly happy with their service."

James agrees. "If a client is unhappy with a service, I always offer a redo free of charge," she says. "I won't take a tip because it's very important to me that a client leaves happy and reassured and that they're getting the best service possible."

Try to give your pro a chance before you storm out after an unfortunate bangs situation, for example. No legitimate professional wants an unsatisfied customer, so try to explain how they can make things right before you leave them in a lurch without a tip.

What About Non-Beauty Professionals?

We’re a beauty website first and foremost—but here’s a little life advice, too: This extra-tipping pertains to the people outside of your beauty team, such as your dog walker or doorman as well. In some areas of the country (typically more urban areas, like New York City), cash tips are the norm for non-beauty professionals, while in other parts, giving cash is uncommon. If you’re not into the idea of handing out cash (or know you’re dealing with someone stubborn who might not feel comfortable accepting it), baked goods, a gift card, or something homemade should certainly suffice. 

Final Thoughts

To be clear: Before deciding who to tip and how much, you should determine if you can afford it. You should never feel obligated to give a holiday tip, especially if you're not feeling financially secure. Again, service industry pros will always tell you that "tips are never expected or mandatory, but always appreciated," so please don't feel suddenly racked with guilt about all the beauty pros you haven't tipped during the holiday season in the past. Think of this new knowledge as a fresh start. 

And if you find yourself unable to afford a holiday tip or gift but still want to give something, a card with a handwritten note is a cost-effective way to show appreciation. Your service person won't begrudge you because just having a regular customer to count on can be a gift in itself.

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