Tipping 20 percent of the total cost for a nail service at a salon is highly encouraged. However, wondering how much to tip at a nail salon when services add up or when the results are not up to your expectations can be tricky. A tip is not mandatory, but shows your nail technician that you’re grateful for their time and effort no matter how you walk out of the salon. Our breakdown of the proper way to tip at a nail salon will leave you ready for checkout. 

What affects the amount I should tip?

The appointment length and type of nail service influence the amount you should tip. Other factors can affect how much you decide to tip your nail tech, but they’re subject to change based on your personal preferences. These include: 

  • How satisfied you are with the results
  • How clean the salon is 
  • How friendly the nail technician is
  • How stress-free the experience is 

Finding the perfect nail tech for you can be tricky. If your experience at the salon was not up to your standards, you can lower the tip. However, you shouldn’t ignore the tip completely because it’s a way for the nail tech to make ends meet and pay for the products used on your nails. 

illustration explaining what each tip percentage can mean to a nail artist

Tipping anywhere from 15-20 percent shows the nail tech that you’re in love with the look of your nails and that you’ve had a relaxing and pleasant salon experience. Meanwhile, tipping around 10 percent tells the technician that you’re either not happy with your nails or you were uncomfortable during the process. 

Should the amount I tip change based on the service? 

Yes, the amount you tip the nail tech should change based on the service provided. Nail salons offer a variety of services from traditional pedicures to acrylic and dip powder manicures. They price each service differently based on the amount of time and materials required to create your dream look. Tipping 20 percent of the total cost for your nail appointment is the best rule of thumb to follow. 

Additional services like a stone massage, designs, gemstones, and gel polish can up the price of a nail appointment by $10-$25. Therefore, it’s best to walk into the salon knowing exactly what services and add-ons you want so that your nail tech can give you an estimated price. Once you’re aware of how much the nails you saw an influencer rocking will cost, calculate 20 percent of that price to determine how much to tip. 

photos, prices ranges, and suggested tip amounts for different types of nail services

Being prepared is one of the most important steps in achieving proper salon etiquette. That includes having enough money in your wallet to pay for both the appointment and an appropriate tip. 

What if there are two nail techs? 

If two nail techs are working together on your nails, you should tip them both. However, if one takes the reins you can tip that nail tech a bit more. You should tip anyone working on your nails, as they took the time to help design and bring your nail fantasies to life. There are a couple of ways to go about properly tipping two nail techs: 

  • Tip them both 15-20 percent of the total if you’re feeling generous
  • Divide 20 percent of the total in half to give them both an even cut 
  • Divvy up the tip based on who did more work 

What should I tip if I was unhappy with the service?

A tip is a way of saying thank you to the nail tech. That’s not to say, however, there aren’t times when you’re not so grateful for the way your nails look. If you’re unhappy with the result and salon experience, you can lower your tip to 10-15 percent instead of leaving without tipping. 

close up on person’s hands with white nail polish

Tipping a nail tech may not seem like the biggest deal, but tips are one of their main sources of income. So if you’re tempted to leave no tip, try instead leaving a small tip and politely informing the nail tech or salon owner of the experience you had. Critical feedback can do much more than a lousy tip. 

Should I tip the nail salon owner?

It’s not expected for clients to leave the salon owner a tip, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate it. Tipping the salon owner could show them you appreciate the friendliness, cleanliness, and overall appearance of their space. 

Stunning nails are great, but stunning nails from a salon where you feel safe and at home are even better. If you have extra change to spare, consider tipping the salon owner to show them that their behind-the-scenes efforts didn’t go unnoticed. 

What’s the appropriate way to leave a tip? 

The appropriate and most common way to leave a tip is during checkout through card or cash. The nail tech or front desk attendant will explain the services you’re paying for and the total cost. After that, you’ll pay for the appointment with your card or cash and determine if you’re in the position to leave a card or cash tip. 

While card tips are hassle-free for the client, they aren’t usually preferred by nail techs. Fees and transfer times make it difficult for the nail tech to get their hands on the money they deserve. Meanwhile, cash tips allow the nail technicians to receive their money immediately. It’s best to ask your nail salon or technician about their preferred way of tipping before the appointment begins. 

Is it OK to give my nail tech a gift?

For the most part, it’s OK to give your nail technician a gift. Loyal customers commonly give beauty specialists gifts during holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. While gifts are extremely gracious, they should never replace a decent tip. 

illustrations of the best gifts for a nail tech: gift card, travel mug or bottle, large tip, salon decor

Occasionally, nail salons may look down upon client gifts. The technician could look unprofessional accepting a gift in front of coworkers, which could create tension between nail technicians. You should hand physical gifts to your nail tech away from other clients and technicians to prevent any commotion throughout the salon’s tranquil environment. 

How else can I have good nail salon etiquette?

brunette nail tech wearing a white top prepping a client’s nails in the salon

Good salon etiquette is key to becoming the perfect client. Salon owners and technicians look forward to clients who are prepared and know what they want. Whether that’s knowing average wait times or how long appointments take, walking into a salon prepared for what’s to come is crucial. However, there are some additional tips on how to have good salon etiquette: 

  • Arrive on time or before the appointment 
  • Tip in cash 
  • Know what cards they take at checkout 
  • Be patient during busy hours 
  • Bring inspiration pictures 
  • Schedule touch-ups ahead of time 
  • Refer friends and family to the salon 

Being the ideal client isn’t easy, but knowing the appropriate amount to tip can take you far. Now that you’re prepared to leave a lasting impression, it’s time to book an appointment with our community of nail experts.