How Much Should You Really Tip a Massage Therapist? - Massage & Fitness Magazine (2023)

Tipping is a customary “social norm” in American culture, but most people still question what the proper amount to tip is.

Should it be based on service or should customers pay a flat rate of 20 percent of the total cost? The 20 percent tip is commonly found in the food industry, but how does it differ for other service-based jobs?

How much should you tip a massage therapist?

Hao Meng, Senior Vice President of Operations at Soothe, a mobile massage company, gave a breakdown of what she has noticed with tipping at Soothe.

“We recommend tipping 15% – 20% based on each client’s comfort and satisfaction with the massage,” said Meng.

Luckily for Soothe, their clients have increased the average tipping percentage in 2021 from 18 to 20 percent.

So if a 60-minute massage costs $80, the tip would be $12 to $16.

  • For a 90-minute massage at $150, the tip would be $22 to $30.
  • For a 30-minute massage at $50, the tip would be $7.50 to $10.

Of course, the tipping amount would depend on the price and what the client thinks the quality of the massage is.

Catie Morgan, a licensed massage therapist (LMT) at Amara Massage Therapy & Wellness in Fort Collins, Colo., said that her opinion on tipping is “somewhat evolving.”

“If the client is going to tip, I feel the proper amount should always be determined personally by them,” said Morgan.

She said that it’s fine to provide clients with a tip chart, but it’s not okay for the massage therapist to set a predetermined tip amount. As for Morgan personally, her experience in the service industry has led her to tip any service-provider.

“I personally tip all service providers between 25-40%,” she said. “If I can’t leave at least 25% tip, I don’t book the appointment or move forward with the service, but that’s just me!”

How much should you tip when using a coupon?

When it comes to using a coupon, Meng said that the tip should be based on the full price of the massage and not the discounted price.

“Coupons are fully subsidized by Soothe. Providers make the same amount regardless of whether a coupon is used,” she said.

(Video) 6 Tips for Giving a Better Massage

How much should you tip for a private massage?

Self-employed practitioners have the flexibility of charging their own prices, but some clients may wonder if they should tip them.

Daniel Akins, LMT, owner of Embodied Health and Wellness in Las Vegas, Nev., believes thattipping should not be expected or asked within their practice.

“Tipping is a way for businesses to keep their labor costs down, inconveniencing both their customers and workers in the process,” he said.

He compared the matter to if a mental health counselor asked for gratuity.

“The focus would suddenly shift from your therapeutic process to you and your therapist’s competing financial needs,” Akins said.

Akins also believes that when a massage therapist accepts a tip, it opens the door for solicitations because the public still associates massage therapy with sex work.

“Gratuity can create an opportunity or expectation for a ‘little extra,’ leaving massage therapists in uncomfortable or even dangerous situations,” said Akins.

Tania Velásquez, LMT, who is the owner of Pinpoint Education and is a private practitioner in New York City, shares Akins’ opinion. Since they are private therapists, they set their prices to be self-sufficient and not rely on tips.

“Even if not totally satisfied, I keep in mind that person may not make a livable cut otherwise. I tip at least a minimum because I never know what someone’s situation is,” Velásquez said.

How much should you tip at a hotel or franchise spa?

Velásquez said that it’s customary in the U.S. to tip a massage therapist about 18 percent. This is because employees do not keep the full amount of the massage so tipping would allow the massage therapist to earn more money per massage.

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Inga Gordon, general manager for Great Jones Spa (GJ Spa) in Manhattan, New York City, emphasized to massage therapists that some European clients may not tip because tipping is not a social norm in some European countries.

“It is customary to leave a tip in America,” Gordon said. “However, if we have European client’s they rarely do leave tips for massage or facial unless they travelling often and know the American rules about tipping,”

Should you tip the spa owner?

Morgan believes that since spa owners are already taking part of the revenue, any tip should go directly to the massage therapist.

How Much Should You Really Tip a Massage Therapist? - Massage & Fitness Magazine (2)

Photo courtesy of Catie Morgan, LMT.

“No, I don’t feel that would be appropriate in a spa or employment setting. I would never take a cut of my employees tips, it’s not my money to take,” said Morgan.

She added that sometimes clients at her spa will tip the reception team.

“I think that is absolutely awesome too, but certainly never expected,” she said.

Some places may charge significantly extra for getting a service from the spa owner. Gordon said that a facial with the owner at one spa that she knew “was priced twice more than the regular treatment.”

“But the clients still left tips for her,” Gordon said. “Here at Great Jones, we think it’s a good gesture to leave tips for the services which were performed, and it doesn’t really matter [if] the owner or not was performing it.”

When should you not tip a massage therapist?

Velásquez try to stay away from tipping, but she did offer insight on when a customer absolutely should not tip.

“[They’re] hurting or not listening to someone, or was texting on their phone, applied strong aromas without consent, was careless, or said something distasteful or caused me to become uncomfortable,” she said.

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Velásquez’s assumption is that the massage therapist works in an “employee arrangement,” meaning that the massage therapist is not self-employed.

And so, for the therapist to not earn at least a 10 percent tip, she said they would typically have to do something egregious.

Should you tip a Canadian registered massage therapist?

When it comes to tipping registered massage therapists (RMTs) in Canada, there seems a different perspective from their American colleagues.

Chris Semenuk, an RMT in Ontario, has been practicing since 2000 and currently sits as Director on the Board of the Registered Massage Therapists Association of Ontario.

How Much Should You Really Tip a Massage Therapist? - Massage & Fitness Magazine (3)

Registered massage therapist Chris Semeneuk treats a patient at his practice in London, Ontario. Photo: Becky Crowley

“I don’t think RMTs should be asking, or hinting, for tips. This is because the word ‘therapy’ denotes a practice that is for medical/therapeutic intent,” he said. “Any such profession should not be seeking tips for the work they do to provide that care to another person.”

Semenuk acknowledged that many RMTs and LMTs accept jobs where employers take a majority of the revenue, which results in the massage therapists relying more on tips.

“No person should have to rely on tipping to make ends meet. Their pay structure should be such that tips are truly over-and-above what they need,” said Semenuk.

How Much Should You Really Tip a Massage Therapist? - Massage & Fitness Magazine (4)

Riley Sullivan

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Riley Sullivan earned her associate's degree in journalism at Palomar College in 2021 and was a staff writer for “The Telescope,” and she is currently attending California State University Northridge.

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Riley began playing sports at the age of four, from riding dirt bikes to playing soccer. Immediately after graduating high school, she coached high school basketball and lacrosse, and then worked at the YMCA of San Diego until March 2020.

In her free time, Riley enjoys reading (“A Girl on a Train”), watching movies (“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”), and has a new-found love for Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

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How much do you tip for a 60-minute massage? ›

In general, the 20% rule applies to tipping your massage therapist. So, if you're wondering how much to tip for a $100 massage, you'd want to tip $20. If you're considering how much to tip for a 60-minute massage (that costs $100) – you'd still tip $20. However, generosity is generally very appreciated.

Should I tip an independent massage therapist? ›

Since tips are standard protocol for massage therapists, you should assume a 20 percent tip in any massage or spa treatment situation (unless a self-employed therapist specifically tells you their rate is all-inclusive). Not sure? When in doubt, always ask, says Post, who says tipping is always appreciated.

How much should I tip my LMT? ›

Tipping about 20% is customary in the "spa realm," says Taelour Wagler, a licensed massage therapist and owner of The Middle Wellness Center in Grand Junction, Colorado. (That's about how much to tip a hairdresser, too.)

How much do you tip for a $100 massage? ›

Yes, you should tip at least 20% based on the regular cost of the service, even if you're using a coupon or gift certificate, says Sokolosky. So if a massage normally costs $100, tip $20 even if you have a coupon that discounts the massage to $90 or a gift card that covers the full cost.

What not to do during a massage? ›

What NOT to Say / Do with Your Massage Therapist
  1. Ask your massage therapist to go see a movie / come to your house / etc. ...
  2. Excessive noises. ...
  3. Comment on our looks/attractiveness. ...
  4. Poke your head out of the room to let us know you're ready. ...
  5. Start undressing while we are still in the room. ...
  6. Touch us.
Jul 3, 2020

Is $10 a good tip for massage? ›

The standard tipping rate for a massage is 20%. So, for a $50 massage, you can tip $10. You can increase or lower your tip depending on how satisfied you are with their services.

Is it OK to not tip for massage? ›

Do You Tip a Massage Therapist? Although a tip is never required, if your massage is at a spa or hotel in North America, a 20 percent tip is standard if you were pleased with the service. (The exception is all-inclusive spas that have a no-tip policy.)

Why do massage therapists expect tips? ›

Tipping is generally expected in a spa setting. This is because, as I mentioned before, many spas pay their therapists a base rate that is lower than average. Spas also employ estheticians, so it's customary for the client to tip each of their service providers at their spa visit.

How often should you get a massage? ›

To keep your body in good condition and maintain health, we recommend getting a massage every 3-4 weeks. This will help to prevent injury, pain, and tension build-up in the muscle fibers, as well as address any other issue before it becomes serious.

What do you wear to a full body massage? ›

For a full-body massage, you can opt to keep your pants on or go completely in the buff. You'll find that most massage therapists are very skilled at protecting your modesty and making you feel comfortable; you'll never have to uncover anything you'd rather not.

How do you know if a massage therapist is good? ›

As mentioned earlier, a good massage therapist must show a genuine interest in clients' health and well-being. They must possess the ability to use different modalities/approaches to address clients' needs. They must provide an ethical and professional environment for the client at all times.

Do I tip massage therapist at chiropractor? ›

While tipping a massage therapist is common practice at a spa, you don't need to do that here. Chiropractors are not massage therapists, and don't require a tip. Treat them as you would any other doctor who was providing you with a medical service.

How much do you tip on a 500 massage? ›

Some independent massage therapists charge all-inclusive rates for their services, but generally tipping 20 percent for spa services like massages, facials and more is advised.

Is $5 a good tip for a pedicure? ›

How much should you tip for a pedicure? Toes are no different than fingers when it comes to nail care. That means you should follow the same etiquette for how much to tip for a pedicure—15 to 20%—says Wilson.

How much do you tip for a sensual massage? ›

Standard tip rate

The general guideline on tipping for a massage is around 25 percent of the total cost. It's a standard that's pretty similar to tipping at a restaurant. At a minimum, an appropriate massage tip is around 20 percent of the cost of the massage.

What parts of the body should not be massaged? ›

Contraindications of Massage Therapy
  • Cuts or open wounds.
  • Bruises.
  • Varicose veins.
  • Broken bones.
  • Burns.
  • Some skin conditions.

Is it rude to fall asleep during a massage? ›

A therapist is still able to perform a high quality massage even if their client is asleep. It's not rude, nor does it insult them in anyway. In fact, sleeping through a massage is a compliment to the therapist. Falling asleep tells them you are relaxed and comfortable and enjoying the time on their table.

Why should you not shower before a massage? ›

Shower. While your intentions might be in the right place, a hot shower prior to your massage is actually not recommended. “A hot rinse right before your massage can increase your circulation as well and your chances of sweating through the session.

How much should you tip for a $80 massage? ›

“We recommend tipping 15% – 20% based on each client's comfort and satisfaction with the massage,” said Meng. Luckily for Soothe, their clients have increased the average tipping percentage in 2021 from 18 to 20 percent. So if a 60-minute massage costs $80, the tip would be $12 to $16.

Do you tip a massage therapist covered by insurance? ›

You tip your nail tech and hair stylist but not your massage therapist. RMTs are professionals and just as you don't tip your doctor, dentist or teacher, you do not tip your massage therapist.

How much do you tip on a $125 massage? ›

15-20% of the bill, including drinks. 10% unless their credit card machine is "broken", then no tip.

Should you talk during a massage? ›

Is it okay to talk during a massage? Yes it is, as the client you can choose to converse with your therapist whenever you want. If you want to talk, feel chatty or just want to be heard it can be an important part of the letting go process.

Do I need to shave my legs before a massage? ›

It's not necessary to shave prior to getting a massage. Most times the massage therapist will not realize it or mind it at all if they did notice. A spa will not demand you to remove your body hair before your appointment. In reality, whether you decide to shave or keep your body hair is entirely up to you.

What is the best time of day to get a massage? ›

If you tend to get sleepy from a massage, you should have it as late in the day as possible so that you can just go home afterwards. If you don't want massage to take time out of your day, you can get one early in the morning. It will help you to feel rejuvenated.

How long is too long for a massage? ›

A typical massage can be as short at 10 minutes, or as long as two hours. Most often, you will hear people asking for a half hour, hour or ninety minute session.

What's the best thing to do after a massage? ›

So, if you missed your massage therapist's little chat, here's a quick recap of what you should be doing post-massage.
  • DRINK WATER. Massage increases your blood circulation and hydrates your muscle tissues. ...
  • STRETCH. ...
  • EAT. ...
  • REST. ...
  • HAVE A BATH. ...
Jul 11, 2016

What not to do before a massage? ›

Ten Things Not To Do Before a Massage
  1. Don't Sunburn. ...
  2. Don't "Caffeinate" ...
  3. Don't Eat a Large Meal. ...
  4. Don't Run a Marathon. ...
  5. Don't Apply Lotion or Oil. ...
  6. Don't Apply Topical Medications, Patches or Tapes. ...
  7. Don't Take Prescription Pain Medication.
Jul 21, 2015

How far do you dress down for a massage? ›

Remain Fully Clothed

You'll be happy to know that you can head to your massage fully clothed. If you opt for this route, consider the clothes you want to wear and what might or might not work. It's best to leave heavy fabrics, such as denim or wool, at home and choose lighter clothes that are thin and form-fitting.

What are red flags in massage therapy? ›

Red flags refer in the main to the identification of serious pathology including cancer, fractures and infections. Some of these agreed red flags include: severe pain. worsening pain or constant pain.

Do massage therapists talk during massage? ›

A good therapist lets their client control the amount of talking during the treatment. There will always be a small amount of conversation from the therapist when they checking in with you during the treatment.

Do I tip my massage therapist if she is the owner? ›

It's not de rigeur or even expected to tip the owner of a restaurant, but its correct to tip a massage therapist or stylist if they are not only the owner, but also the one providing you direct services. You also don't tip your pilot, or your flight attendant, either.

What do you wear to a massage therapist appointment? ›

What should you do? Do whatever you are comfortable with. If you feel like you can relax and receive a treatment under the sheets without your clothes on or if you chose to remain in your underwear or stay fully clothed – it is really your choice.

Are you supposed to tip at Massage Envy? ›

When you're ready, they'll return with you to the front and offer you a glass of water (it's important to stay hydrated post-massage). And if you appreciated your experience, you can always leave a tip. We look forward to your visit!

What are the new rules of tipping? ›

Peters and Birardi both agree that a 20% tip is the minimum appropriate for the standard tipped workers and that larger tips (more than 20%) should be done to recognize excellent customer service.

Do you tip if gratuity is included? ›

Others may automatically include gratuity when the bill is drawn. If either of these instances is the case, then no, you do not need to tip on top of this price. However, if the service was exceptional and you had a wonderful experience, an additional tip is never a bad idea.

How much do you tip for a $35.00 pedicure? ›

How much do you tip on a $35 pedicure? What customers do: A 20% tip is standard, so that would be $7 on a $35 pedicure. What salon staff wants you to do: If service was satisfactory, give at least 20%.

What is a good tip for a 60 dollar pedicure? ›

Following the standard 20% tip rate for nail salons, you should tip $12. This means the total price for a $60 pedicure is $72. How much do you tip for a $50 pedicure?

How much do you tip for a $40 pedicure? ›

How Much to Tip for Pedicure? On average, you should tip between 15% and 20% for a pedicure.

Is 60 minutes enough for a massage? ›

In general, while a 60 minute session provides some relaxation and targeted muscle work, it's sometimes a less thorough massage if you are looking to address the whole body including the hands, feet, and scalp.

Should I do a 30 or 60 minute massage? ›

A: I usually recommend that you make your first appointment for an hour. It is hard to assess new tissue and effectively treat someone in 30 minutes. After your first appointment, the time may be adjusted to 30 or 90 minutes depending on your needs. This is not a hard and fast rule however.

How many times a week is it OK to get a massage? ›

The simple answer is: as often as you want! However, a more realistic answer depends on many factors, including your lifestyle, activity level, pain and physical needs, stress and emotional needs, and of course, your budget. Like many things in life, consistency is key when it comes to massage therapy.

How long should a good massage last? ›

Typically massage therapy should be at least 50 minutes to one hour for a general full body treatment to be effective. Some establishments offer forty-five and fifty minute sessions.

Is once a week too often to get a massage? ›

Actually, you can get massaged too frequently. Once a week is the most you should go unless you are dealing with pain or high-intensity sports. Between you and your therapist, you'll be able to determine the best frequency because your body's response is a large part of this determination.

What is the 1st rule of massage therapy? ›

The first rule of massage therapy is always to obtain informed consent from the patient before starting a session. Informed consent between therapist and patient is critical in ensuring that any massage treatment will be safe, beneficial, and respectful for both parties involved in the session.

Should you shave before a massage? ›

It is not important to shave before a massage. Your therapist doesn't care or even notice. The only exception to this rule is if you are having Kinesio Taping, then you must do it 24 hours in advance to avoid skin irritation. If less than 24 hours, use clippers only.

What do you wear during a massage? ›

It's best to leave heavy fabrics, such as denim or wool, at home and choose lighter clothes that are thin and form-fitting. Some suitable options include t-shirts, tank tops, shorts or sports bras. Even if you prefer to cover up, make sure you've considered the limitations placed on your massage therapist.

How much do you tip a hairdresser on $150? ›

$25 service = $5 tip. $50 service = $10 tip. $100 service = $20 tip. $150 service = $30 tip.

How much do you tip a hairdresser on $300? ›

"Tip 20 percent on the true total cost of the service, not the discounted cost," Schweitzer says. "The hairdresser did the same amount of work, so they deserve the same amount of tip."


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