Written by Stephanie Powers, CEO & Founder of Sapien Skin & Beauty

Written by Stephanie Powers, CEO & Founder of Sapien Skin & Beauty

Guaranteed Fair Wages for Promoting Equity and Dignity

The practice of tipping within the salon and spa industry has long been considered customary. However, a critical examination of this tradition reveals a oppressive history.

Study after study demonstrate the inherent sexism and racism that perpetuate inequalities within the workforce. Salons and spas should consider abolishing tipping, focusing on the detrimental effects it has on gender and racial equity, but also attract higher quality workers who benefit from employer protections. By eliminating tipping, employers can foster a fairer and more inclusive environment for both their employees and customers.

Sexism in Tipping Culture:

The beauty industry has historically been associated with gendered stereotypes and expectations, and the practice of tipping exacerbates these biases. Female service providers often face a double standard, as customers tend to tip based on their appearance or perceived attractiveness rather than the quality of their services. This objectification diminishes their professional expertise and reinforces the idea that their worth is tied to their physical appearance. Moreover, women in the industry are frequently subjected to sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, with tipping acting as a conduit for the power dynamics that contribute to such misconduct.

Racial Bias and Tipping:

The intersection of tipping culture and racial bias is a concerning issue within salons and spas. Studies have shown that service providers of color often receive lower tips compared to their white counterparts, even when delivering exceptional service. This racial disparity perpetuates systemic inequalities, as it limits economic opportunities for people of color and reinforces harmful stereotypes. Tipping practices can inadvertently perpetuate discriminatory behavior, with customers being influenced by implicit biases and societal prejudices, leading to unequal treatment and compensation.

Financial Stability and Professional Growth:

By relying on tips, salon and spa employees face significant challenges in achieving financial stability and professional growth. The unpredictability of tip amounts creates an inconsistent income stream, making it difficult for service providers to budget and plan for their financial futures. This lack of stability can hinder their ability to access benefits, save for emergencies, or invest in professional development opportunities. By transitioning to a fair wage system, salons and spas can provide employees with a stable income, enabling them to focus on their careers and well-being.

Creating an Inclusive Environment:

Abolishing tipping in salons and spas promotes inclusivity and equal treatment for all employees. Implementing a fair wage structure ensures that service providers are compensated fairly; regardless of their gender, race, or appearance. This shift allows professionals to be recognized and rewarded based on their skills, expertise, and dedication to their craft; rather than arbitrary factors. By cultivating an environment free from the biases perpetuated by tipping, salons and spas can foster a culture of respect, dignity, and professionalism.

Alternatives to Tipping:

Several alternatives to tipping have been suggested within the salon and spa industry. Implementing a no-tipping policy and instead including service charges in the pricing can help ensure fair compensation for employees. Additionally, providing employees with a higher base wage or commission-based structures can create financial stability while incentivizing exceptional service. These alternatives shift the focus from individual acts of generosity to a more equitable system that values the expertise and labor of service providers.


The practice of tipping in salons and spas perpetuates sexism and racism while hindering financial stability and professional growth for employees. By abolishing tipping and implementing alternative compensation models, these establishments can foster an inclusive and equitable environment. It is crucial for the industry to recognize and address these systemic issues to promote gender and racial equity and ensure that all employees are treated with the respect, dignity, and fair compensation they deserve.


Women’s Law Center (NWLC)

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)




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