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Giving a holiday tip is a wonderful way to showcase your appreciation for people who provide a service to you on a regular basis throughout the year, but figuring out who you need to tip can be confusing. (If you tipped everyone who had done anything for you over the span of a year, you might go broke.)
Since the rules are so unclear, we've interviewed some beauty industry pros 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 tend to get particularly slammed during this hectic time of year—frequently working around the clock for their clients—and it’s important to be cognizant of this.
“The holiday season is incredibly busy for us, with lots of extra work—we have tons of clients getting ready for parties and festivities,” says Megan Garmers, founder of MG Hair and Makeup. “Letting your pros know you appreciate them is always a good move on your part.”
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 wage 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?
Don’t freak out about tipping your once-in-a-blue-moon facialist. Basically, 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.) It’s okay to only tip the professionals you see regularly—if you only get a facial once or twice a year, you don't necessarily need to feel obligated to tip extra to someone you barely know.
But for those you do see more than a few times a year, again, it’s standard protocol to present them with a little token of your gratitude, although, keep in mind that it's certainly not mandatory.
"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.
“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,” says Jaz España, colorist & extension specialist at BlackStones Salon. “That might be a candle, bottle of wine, or they tip me double the usual 20 percent of their service.”
KC Bishai, hairstylist at Vu Hair New York, 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 percent of regular price for beauty services—and then during the holiday season, you can double your usual tip, or add at least an additional 10 percent 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 simply 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 report that a 15-20 percent tip is considered standard—no matter the time of year. To show extra appreciation during the holidays, add on an extra 10-20 percent.
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.
To be clear: Prior to 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 serviceperson won't begrudge you, because just having a regular customer to count on can be a gift in itself.