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How Much Do I Tip for That?: A Beauty Investigation

Illustration for article titled How Much Do I Tip for That?: A Beauty Investigation

During a recent trip to Houston, I got a manicure and pedicure because it was spring in the south but the dead of winter in New York City and my toes were not ready for public consumption. As a woman who affords herself few mani-pedi’s, I’m never sure what to tip so I texted two girlfriends and asked. But when I gave the technician her gratuity, she balked.

I was confused ... and then upset.

“Is this for the both of us?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said, clearly offended before leaving the salon and rolling my eyes. However once I hit the pavement of H-Town’s Rice Village, I wondered, Wait, am I in the wrong? Why don’t I ever know what to do in these situations?!


My nail debacle’s backstory: I ordered a mani-pedi special costing $35 for both services administered by two women, one on my fingers and the other fighting through winter’s bone on my feet. (Sorry, girl). I paid twenty percent on the whole tab, which wasn’t acceptable for the technician who clearly expected me to tip forty percent on a $35 job. But then, I thought, what’s the point of a “deal” if I’m shelling out the same amount in tips?

This experience inspired me to ask New York City hair stylists, nail technicians, waxers, threaders and even a personal stylist exactly what people like me are supposed to tip, once and for all, and here’s what I discovered: European tourists are awful customers.

There are a lot of hotels around here with foreigners who don’t tip because they don’t tip at home, even though they know that we tip in America. They pretend like they don’t know but they do. They try to get one over on you or sometimes they’ll leave like $2. - Maria, Haute Air, a Bumble and Bumble affiliated salon

If you pay my fee, I’m good but if you give me an envelope too, I’m not going to say no. I have one client whose closet I do and she takes me out for a great meal and drinks after I’ve finished. But I’m a cheap date, a few kettle tonics and good. - Memsor Kamarake, stylist for normals and celebrities like Wendy Williams


I typically get 15-20 percent and I’d like 20 percent, ha. I have been stiffed and it didn’t make me angry but it was an annoyance. Foreigners often do that because they don’t tip at home and try to do the same here but if you don’t want to tip, don’t get your hair done in America. - Annalis, DevaCurl

We usually get 20 percent but it depends on the service and whether the customer likes you or the way you’ve waxed or threaded them. IPL (waxing with a laser) is more expensive but people still tip about the same, $15 is tipping for wax which is 20 percent. We like 20 percent and if you want to tip more, that’s good! We’re not stiffed often, though lots of internationals don’t tip and try to use their nationality as an excuse. But on the other hand, some clients bring us cakes and cupcake and that’s also welcome! - Callie, Strip: Ministry of Waxing


One guy tipped $100 on a $100 back and shoulder wax. - Natalia, Strip: Ministry of Waxing

Tips depend, for manicures, which cost $10, a $2 or $3 tip is enough. For a pedicure, which take 45 minutes, $6 or $7 dollars works but if the technician is working longer, say an hour, on your pedicures, then the tip should be higher. For eyebrow waxing, a 10 to 15 percent is a fine. But sometimes people have leave quarters and pennies, it’s not good.
- Jennie, Nails By Deca


We usually get 15 percent or less in tips but we want 20, at least. We don’t really get stiffed for tips but some people who don’t know, or rich people who don’t care, that we make most our money from tips don’t leave much. It’s mostly others who are hair dressers or bartenders or other service jobs that tip well because they know that we rely on tips. - Anju, Valley

And just for good measure, I asked a few barbers about tipping as well for the male Jezebel readers because, equality.


$10 to $20 is what you want. - Vinny, Fellow Barber

Everyone wants a $20 but tips can vary, I got a free three month membership to Equinox once. If you cut a manager’s hair, you can get a discount at their store. - Matt, Fellow Barber


I got free Jordan’s once, well twice, as a tip, but the guy worked at Nike, so ... Also “specials” are a scheme because they expect you to spend the money you saved in tips. - Dylan, Fellow Barber

And there you have it, tipping 20 percent keeps you well in the good graces of your nail artist, hair stylist, waxer, threader or barber. Easter means a new beginning so let’s all be great this spring, huh?


Image via Getty.

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What about kids and pets?

I was getting my little piggies done one morning and overheard the lady, if you want to call her that, next to me ask her friend what to tip for a pedicure. Her friend replied 20%. She balked at that and added that she wasn't tipping for the pedicure her daughter got because "She's a child" (I'd guess she was 4 or 5). I say a pedicure is a pedicure and the fact that the customer is a child shouldn't matter.