Most of us are slaves to our beauty salon and spa appointments. We book our regular sessions for brow shaping, bikini waxing or highlights and wonder how much extra we will have to drop that week for the price of making ourselves look more beautiful and younger looking. Not only do we have to factor in the cost of the service, but the tip has become even more important with overhead at an all time high and the economy at an all time low. Knowing how much to tip and when to tip will determine whether you will be a welcome patron of the salon. Be sure to stop by the ATM for cash so that you can properly thank those who successfully transform you from frumpy to fabulous.

· The Bare Minimum. In general, a tip of anywhere from 15% to 20% is expected for services provided whether from a massage therapist, an aesthetician or a hair stylist. Always make sure to tip the supporting staff before you tip the owner. Speaking of owners, nowadays, it is customary to tip the owner of a salon or spa if they have rendered a service. If this feels awkward, you can always double check with the receptionist to make sure this is the protocol. As far as independent contractors are concerned, they do get to keep a greater percentage of the money they bring in, however they still have high expenses of renting the space, paying for their own beauty supplies, etc. and very much appreciate a gratuity for a job well done.

· The Fancier the Salon the Bigger the Tip. It goes without saying that if you are going to a “fancy schmancy” salon then you will need to pony up a fancy tip! For example, if you are going to get your hair cut from a stylist at Andy Lecompte’s salon (stylist to Madonna, Nicole Ritchie and Lindsay Lohan) then you would be expected to pay a higher tip than if you were going to a nondescript hair salon in the neighborhood. And, if a celebrity stylist such as Andy does your hair, then you may be expected to drop as much as $500 for a cut and pay a whopping $100 tip. Yikes!!

· A Breakdown of Acceptable Tips for Services. Stylist or colorist 20%, stylist’s assistant $5-$10 (this figure will vary depending upon the amount of time that is spent and the popularity of the salon), shampoo attendant $2 to $5, manicures and pedicures 15-20%, facialist or aesthetician 20%, massage therapist 15-20%, gratuity for gift certificates 20%, coatroom attendant $1 to $2, house calls -the sky’s the limit!

· No Tip, No Way! Even if you are dissatisfied with your service, it is truly bad manners to withhold a tip. As intimidating as it may seem, it is better to make mention of your dissatisfaction and at least give your service provider the opportunity to rectify the situation. If however, they have no interest, or worse give you attitude, than you have every right to reduce your tip by as much as 10%.

If you have absolutely no clue what to tip, consult the salon or spa receptionist and they should be able to steer you in the right direction. The bottom line is tipping is private, but the more generous the tip, the more the salon or spa will be inclined to squeeze you in on a busy day or offer you a free product just for the heck of it!