Ladylike Laws: Spa Etiquette 101

Having your hair, nails or other spa treatments done is always a luxurious treat. But do you know the proper etiquette when it comes to all of these services? I recently received a message asking about spa etiquette in my inbox on the topic, and thought it was a really interesting topic. Here was one reader’s question:

Hi Lauren! What are the etiquette guidelines for salon and spa services (including hair cuts and coloring, manicures/pedicures, and other spa services)? Whom do you tip in these situations and how much? What are some common blunders that us clients may not know we’re making? Thanks!

After reading this, I decided to poll the experts in my life, and put together a little guide on the proper etiquette for all of your beauty treatments. Here is my guide to spa etiquette 101…

At The Hair Salon

  1. Tip correctly.
    Just like a restaurant, a salon is in the service industry, so you should acknowledge those you serve you. A standard tip should be 15% of the cost of your services, but if you really loved your experience it’s nice to tip 20% to show your gratitude.
  1. Know when to up your tip.
    Though 15% is a standard minimum tip, you should increase your tip if you arrive late, receive extra add-on services (like a shoulder or hand massage), or bring a hard-to-handle toddler with you. This shows your appreciation for the salon going above and beyond the usual.
  1. Tip your shampooer.
    This is a common question and according to the hairstylists in my life, it is best to tip the person who shampoos your hair separately. The more the shampooer does, (such as applying toner or other treatments), the more you should leave. Generally speaking, $3 to $5 is an appropriate amount.
  1. Don’t come sick.
    Since your stylist will be in such close proximity to your face throughout the treatment, avoid coming in with a raging cold or illness. Your stylist will appreciate your consideration.
  1. Bring cash.
    For all services, it’s best to tip in cash instead of on your credit card so you know your stylist receives the entirety of his or her tip.

At The Nail Salon

  1. Tip generously.
    Since nail services are generally less expensive, it’s nice to tip 20% and upwards on the cost of your service to thank your technician for their hard work. As with the hair salon, cash is always preferred.
  1. Shower before.
    Hot water prevents nail polish from drying fully, so it’s best to shower before getting your nails done, or wait until the following day. I always think it’s nice to do a quick little shave for the person doing my pedicure…because no one really wants to massage hairy legs!
  1. Limit your phone time.
    We’ve all had the misfortune of sitting next to someone that feels the need to carry on a very loud phone conversation throughout the duration of their nail appointment. Don’t be that girl. Not only is it discourteous to your fellow salon-goers, it also makes it difficult for your technicians to get their job done.

At The Spa

  1. Communicate.
    When you’re having a spa service—like a massage or facial—it’s very important to communicate what your preferences are at the beginning of the appointment. This will help guide your esthetician and save you the grief of spending money on an unsatisfying appointment.
  1. Tip smartly.
    The appropriate tip for a spa service is similar to that of the hair salon: 15% to 20% on average. Be aware that some spas will automatically include the tip in your final bill, so be sure to clarify this before you leave your gratuity.

Do you have any other spa etiquette tips that I forgot to include?

Leave them below.

XO Lauren

  • Michelle

    I worked in a Las Vegas spa as a manager. When booking a massage makes sure YOU clarify if you want a male or a female provider for your massage therapist. Also tip the spa hosts if they are checking on you making sure you have water picking up after you. And for the love of all that is holy do not got into the steam room drunk as you will end up more sick and you will be more drunk as you are dehydrating yourself. For a massage you keep the close on to your comfort level. But know if you have underwear on the therapist cannot do flute work or if you keep your bra on they really cannot massage your back. Massage therapist cannot work on you if you are in your first trimester pregnant. And those of you who are from foreign countries do not ask for a happy ending. I can’t tell you how many men and women I have kicked out of the spa for insisting on a happy ending. Also for hair salons if you have never met your hair stylist make sure you let them know if you have thick or thin hair and how long it is that way they can book accordingly and do not ask the front desk how much it is and expect that price sometimes the front desk is quoting from short hair but the more hair you have the longer and more work it is so don’t be surprised if you are misquoted.