Should I tip the masseuse?
March 9, 2009 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Do you tip the masseuse?

I've never had a professional massage before and I have a certificate my boyfriend got me for a full hour massage. If I do tip, what should I tip? I'm completely in the dark here. Thanks.
posted by MaryDellamorte to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I tip 20% always.
posted by meerkatty at 7:25 PM on March 9, 2009

Yes, as an LMT, I would urge you to tip. Assuming this is in a spa or spa-like environment, the therapist makes a small percentage of the fee.

(And repeat after me, "massage therapist." Not masseuse, or masseur.)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:36 PM on March 9, 2009 a haircut or a good dinner, 15 to 20 % is easy like Sunday morning.
posted by dawson at 7:36 PM on March 9, 2009

Response by poster: Computech, what about "massager?" Haha kidding, thank you for telling me it's "massage therapist." I even changed the tag for you. I get slightly nervous and intimidated in situations I've never been in before, what should I expect going in?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:42 PM on March 9, 2009

Yup tip tip tip! Nthing 20%!!!
posted by cachondeo45 at 8:11 PM on March 9, 2009

You enter a room with dimmed lights, they leave you alone to get naked, I keep my panties on, and get on the table face down, unless they tell you otherwise. You can ask, face up or down first? When you get on the table and appropriately cover yourself, the person will knock before he/she comes in and work on upper body then lower body, then he/she'll ask you to turn then lower body to upper body, arms, hands, neck, and depends on the therapist, head and face.

When you first meet and exchange pleasantries, let her/him know if there are any areas of body that you want special attention...lower back, neck, shoulders, etc. They'll reserve the time to pay special attention.

I used to always tip 20% when my massage therapist was working at a salon. Enjoy!
posted by icollectpurses at 8:13 PM on March 9, 2009

Response by poster: What are the rules on males massaging females and vice versa? I think I would prefer a male massage therapist because their hands are bigger and stronger. Am I wrong here?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:19 PM on March 9, 2009

Bartender asking about tipping? =]

Asking for male massage therapist is normal if you're a female to answer that last question for you.
posted by zephyr_words at 8:21 PM on March 9, 2009

Serious question here: are there every in situations in America where you interact with another person and don't have to tip them? I mean, jeez.

Nevertheless it seems the consensus is a 20% tip.

I've never had a massage because I hate people touching me, but I know people who have and have queried them about it and found that male vs. female is about equal. If you're kneading muscle for a living, your hands are going to be pretty strong regardless. I also knew one girl who said that she had had male and female massage therapists at the same place, and while the men tended to have larger hands, they weren't as thorough as the women. I guess it mainly depends on what you're comfortable with.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:24 PM on March 9, 2009

"every any" as opposed to "every in", saw it just as I hit post, ffs!
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:25 PM on March 9, 2009

omg kill me now
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:25 PM on March 9, 2009

yes, tip. 20% if you are happy with the massage. Don't be scared to ask for what you want either - more pressure, less pressure, etc. I've been equally happy and unhappy with male and female massage therapists - I think it just depends on the person. I've had a lot of massages and I would say that about 99% of the time, I've been very happy about the massage.
posted by gt2 at 8:33 PM on March 9, 2009

Just as a data point, when I have a massage in a spa, I tip about $15-20, even if the massage is being done by an RMT. When I have a massage at the chiropractor / RMT's office, I don't tip.

In the latter case, it's too much like tipping a doctor. Plus, they're more of a business owner than an employee.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:49 PM on March 9, 2009

When I was paying $80, I generally tipped $20, once $10 as I felt I'd been rushed.

As far as males/females, I always just took whomever was free, and that was always a woman. But their hands were plenty strong.

If you get deep tissue, expect to leave in more pain than you arrived -- but you'll feel excellent the next day. Make sure to rehydrate after.

The procedure is, go in to the room, take off your clothes, lie on your stomach. I generally left my briefs on, but I think in the future I won't, as I always had to lift up the legs to let her work my thighs, or else I had her fingers under the briefs, which was weirder. Note that if lotion is used, putting your clothes back on my feel "tacky" -- I always went after work, and I didn't like getting residual lotion on a button-down shirt.

Definitely, don't be shy about telling the masseuse where you need work, then just relax and let her take care of it.
posted by orthogonality at 9:10 PM on March 9, 2009

Funny, I just had a conversation about this with friends.

I have had an RMT massage in a professional, 'paramedical' environment where my attempt to give a tip was declined and both I and the therapist ended up feeling awkward about it.

I have also had a massage in a 'spa' environment (also performed by an RMT) where a tip was expected.

So I guess I'm echoing Jacquillynne.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:27 PM on March 9, 2009

I go for regular massage, and in general I don't tip. Because I'm in there at least once every two weeks, if not every week (and sometimes twice a week if I've screwed my back real good over the weekend), my loyalty is, long term, far more valuable than getting $10 or $20 out of me once or twice before I move on to the next therapist.

That said, one time I completely fucked my back getting out of the morning shower, and my regular massage therapist squeezed me in, missing lunch on a day with a completely packed schedule, as a favour. I tipped that day.

I too recommend making sure you ask for exactly what you want. Not just at the beginning - all the way through.
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 9:37 PM on March 9, 2009

In the U.S., I tip 20% for a massage (always a spa environment).

You should specify your gender preference when you make your appointment; some places will ask you, but if they don't, be sure you speak up if you do have one. But every female massage therapist who I've seen has been very, very strong.

On the whole, I think massage therapists in the U.S. are very sensitive to people's nervousness about taking off clothes, being touched, etc. They'll most likely ask if it's your first massage and will give you detailed instructions about what to do, what they'll be doing, etc.
posted by transporter accident amy at 1:07 AM on March 10, 2009

Just to clarify, RMTs at chiropractor's offices are not always "more of a business owner" and they sometimes do expect (read: live off of) tips. It really depends on the location.

To the OP, it is perfectly acceptable to call ahead and ask the particular location their tipping policy or suggestions. At some places, tips are expected but cannot be added to the credit card bill, or (what I hate more) you have to announce how much you would like to tip when paying at the beginning of the session so they can add it on to the credit card bill. I prefer to pay the bill by card and then bring cash in the amount of 20% for tipping, which I leave in the envelopes that are usually available at the front desk. The envelopes are customary, rather than actually handing money to the massage therapist. On preview, I see that you have a gift certificate, so you should definitely bring cash for the tip. They might not be able to run a credit card at all just for a tip.

If you call ahead, the receptionist should be able to answer all your questions and put you at ease, and you can also request a male or female therapist at that time (you should definitely do this before you arrive at the place). I've only had female therapists, and I have no complaints whatsoever about their strength. The strongest ones always seemed to be the smallest, most delicate-looking ones!
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:20 AM on March 10, 2009

Only if you get a happy ending... just kidding...

I would not tip for a massage that seems absurd. - you agreed a price for the service why do you have to tip?

The US thing with tips is a mess.
posted by mary8nne at 7:28 AM on March 10, 2009

Another non-tipper here. But I see my massage therapist monthly in her home. Not in a spa. (I try to give her something extra at holiday time.)
posted by booth at 7:48 AM on March 10, 2009

I would not tip for a massage that seems absurd. - you agreed a price for the service why do you have to tip?

The US thing with tips is a mess.

Whether you agree with tipping as a concept or not is pretty irrelevant here. Yes, the tipping system in North America is absurd. But it is what it is, and if you don't play along, your service providers don't make their rent for the month. [*]

If you get a massage in a spa, it is expected that you will offer a 10-20% tip for that service, and the therapists, registered and otherwise, are paid with that in mind.

In non-spa settings where RMTs are practicing more clearly as medical professionals, whether you tip or not is a more open question.

[*] Obvious exaggeration for effect. But that they be tipped is an expected part of their compensation package. If you don't agree with how that's handled, "don't get a massage". Don't "get a massage and then not tip because you think it's absurd."
posted by jacquilynne at 8:24 AM on March 10, 2009

What are the rules on males massaging females and vice versa? I think I would prefer a male massage therapist because their hands are bigger and stronger. Am I wrong here?

I don't know of any hard and fast rules. It's pretty much your preference. If you feel uneasy about having a male MT, ask for female (or vice versa). And, in my experience, men tend to have stronger hands. But I've only had one female MT who did not have sufficient grip strength.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:28 AM on March 10, 2009

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