Do You Tip for A Spray Tan? Ultimate Guide

spray tan

According to Ibisworld, nearly 10 million Americans use tanning salons each year with AmericanSpa saying that nearly $5.5 billion worth of self-tanning products will be sold annually by 2026.

If you’re planning on visiting the tanning salon to top up your tan, then you might be wondering what the etiquette is for tipping the salon’s staff.

Tipping is a key part of planning and implementing a well-maintained budget.

Tip too often and too much and you’ll end up wasting more cash than a drunkard at a casino.

On the flip side; tip too little or fail to tip when you ought to and you may well raise some unwelcomed eyebrows.

To help you get your tipping game on point when it comes to tanning, we’ve looked at what the etiquette is, how much to tip (if at all), how much tanning salon staff earn, and other key metrics to help you decide.

Keep reading to find out what we’ve discovered…

Do You Need to Tip at a Tanning Salon for a Spray Tan? The Short Answer

It is customary in the US to tip at a tanning salon. We’d suggest the usual 15-20% of the cost of the session if ample. If you’ve been offered help by an assistant and you want them to receive the money, then we’d suggest handing it to them rather than the salon owner.

How Much Do Tanning Salon Workers Earn?

A key factor for most people when it comes to tipping is to ask how much do the workers within the industry earn.

We’re all familiar with the idea that some industries pay their workers so poorly that tips are needed to bring their wages up to something half respectable.

Pizza delivery guys, furniture assemblers, and caterers are good examples of this.

But what about tanning salon workers?

We’ve had a rummage through some job/earnings websites and according to Comparably, tanning salon attendants earn just $23,211 per annum:

Source: Comparably

According to Oberlo, the median weekly income for a person in the US is $1030 so $53,560 per year.

It’s clear to see that tanning salon attendants are earning way below that.

Ridiculously so in fact.

On this basis, you may feel it is in good conscience to hand over a tip.

We think that’s fair given their measly average yearly salaries on the data we’ve looked at.

How Much Will a Spray Tan or Tanning Session Cost?

The next key consideration on most people’s minds before they think about the amount to tip is how much is the product or service going to cost.

This is important because the cost can directly affect the tip (we’ll come onto this below)

According to selftanning.com, expect to pay between $25 – $50 for a spray tan.

If you use a tanning bed instead of a spray tan then a session is likely to cost you around $10 according to talking tan.

How Much to Tip for Spray Tan and Tanning Bed Session?

The next question is how much should you be tipping?

Well, the going rate in the US is around 15-20% of the cost of the service or goods purchased.

If you apply these figures to the spray tan cost above then expect to tip between $3.75 – $10.

For a tanning bed session, you should tip $1.50 – $2.

The amount you wish to tip will be entirely up to you.

However, we’d suggest tipping more if you’re actually been assisted by the tanning attendant.

For example, in some spray tan salons, the attendant will actually use the sprayer to apply the tan. They physically walk around your body and spray you.

In others, you just walk into a booth and the spray is applied automatically the same as a surround shower does without the need for an attendant to be there.

For a tanning bed/booth, most of the time you’ll just walk into the booth or lay down on the bed, again without much help from an attendant.

Clearly, you don’t have to pay a percentage sum as a tip and you may decide that a fixed sum is better.

You might decide to pay a fixed sum if the percentage ends up being a particularly measly amount (i.e. under $2).

We don’t like tipping under $2 in most situations as the tip begins to become a bit pointless.

In most situations, we think that a $2 tip should be the lower limit.

Should You Tip a Spray Tan Salon Owner?

woman in tanning bed

The jury is still out on whether to tip owners.

Most people like to tip attendants instead as the assumption is that they will be on a much lower wage than the business owner.

Obviously, this is not always the case as many business owners, especially new ones, struggle in their first years and we are in the midst of a recession.

If you are adamant that the tip should go to the attendant and not the owner then we’d suggest tipping in cash and handing it to the attendant.

Do You Tip Mobile Spray Tan?

Yes, we’d recommend still tipping for a mobile spray tan.

We tend to tip more or tip when we wouldn’t normally when the service comes to us.

We see no reason to depart from that here.

If a spray tan artist is coming out to you then this is an extra effort on their part, especially if it’s during unsociable hours or at the weekend.

We think this warrants an extra tip most of the time.

Read our other cosmetics tipping guides:
Do You Tip for Botox
Do You Tip for Lip Injections
Do You Tip for CoolSculpting
Do You Tip for IPL Treatments

Should You Ever Withhold a Tip When Spray Tanning?

There might be occasions when you decide that a tip should be withheld.

We’d suggest this should be on rare occasions unless you’ve had a particularly bad experience.

Withhold a tip if:

  • The attendant has been rude or unprofessional
  • The spray tan is patchy or the color is not what you expected
  • The service is performed slowly or inefficiently

On the flip side, you might wish to tip more if:

  • It’s Christmas or the holidays
  • The workmanship is beyond what you expected
  • The attendant was particularly professional or courteous or went beyond the call of duty
  • You’ve been given a good deal or discount

Final Thoughts

The tanning industry is certainly one where we’d recommend offering up a tip.

Tanning attendants earn poor wages and rely on tips to supplement their income.

Spray tans or tanning bed sessions are fairly cheap as far as cosmetic costs go and therefore a tip isn’t going to break the bank for most people.

If you decide not to offer a monetary tip then you could always:

  • Write a positive Google review for the salon
  • Offer verbal praise to the attendant
  • Offer a small gift like flowers, chocolates or a thank you card
  • Refer a friend or acquaintance to the salon

As a final thought, remember to ask ahead before your session to make sure that a gratuity isn’t added on.

Some salons add a gratuity to the bill!

Your wallet won’t appreciate you tipping the salon twice!

About the author

Oliver graduated from law school in 2008 and has practiced exclusively in the field of civil litigation for the last 10 years. He has a wealth of experience and expertise in litigation involving complex quantum and large financial losses. He has achieved numerous 7 figure settlements and has been involved in multi-billion dollar class-action consumer lawsuits against companies such as the Volkswagen Group. Away from the law, he is a personal finance writer, having been featured in key publications such as Yahoo Finance, GO Banking Rates, NewsBreak, MEL Magazine, and many more.



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