Your level of service should dictate how much you tip. The better you feel, the more you leave!

Andrea Chu/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Tipping can be a hassle if you don't understand the going rate for a particular service. The anxiety and potential embarrassment factor can even spoil the experience a little when you don't know the rules going in.

Aestheticians and other spa employees may behave like your best friend and fairy godmother all rolled into one friendly, helpful package. How do you tip for that? Well, the fact is that tipping is subjective, and the services you receive should determine how much you pay as a gratuity. As with restaurant service, there are some general recommendations, but your conscience should always be your guide.

Tipping for Spa Services

It'd be nice to be able to provide one amount that'd fit every spa service situation, but it doesn't work that way. A range of between 15 to 20 percent of the total bill is often referenced as fair, but that doesn't tell the whole story.

As with restaurant service -- something we're all probably familiar with -- where you live can have an impact on how much of a tip you should leave. If the cost of living in an area is above the national average, it could have an influence on what's appropriate to tip. The amount of the whole bill can have an impact, too. Does that fall within the 15 to 20 percent rule? Probably, but it'll put the figure closer to the 20 percent end of the scale.

Reward Quality Service

Another consideration is the way you value the service. If you haven't had a facial in 10 years and you see guests coming and going while the aesthetician is working feverishly to give your skin a luminous sheen, her efforts should be rewarded. Should that be within the 15 to 20 percent rule? Maybe not. If you subscribe to the belief that great service should be recognized, then go ahead and pay more, particularly if you think the technician may have passed up other opportunities in order to spend more time with you.

There's a flip side to this. If the service is substandard, you're entitled to show your disappointment by tipping less. When dealing with a service industry, it's completely acceptable to reward good service and withhold gratuities to employees who provide poor service. There's one caveat you should be aware of here, though. If you under-tip someone, don't expect to be welcomed with open arms on your next visit. In fact, you may want to switch spas altogether.

There are a few more points we need to clarify before you schedule your next spa day.

  • If you're being helped by the owner of the spa, you're not expected to leave a tip.
  • If you just can't afford the tip, pass on the visit. Service industry employees rely on tips to supplement their income and stiffing them when they've done a good job just isn't fair.
  • If you receive a gift certificate for spa services, the tip may or may not be included, so don't forget to ask.

Now that you have the straight scoop on tipping, you can relax and enjoy your spa visit.