This is a tough topic for me. I can see it both ways, now that I've owned a spa for the last 5 years. Actually, I can see it three ways, because there ARE three perspectives: the client, the technician, and the spa owner.
This is how I feel as a client: "I'm already paying $100-$150 for my (insert your service here). If I have to put a 15-20% tip on top of that, then my bill is skyrocketing to $115 - $180. It costs way more than at a restaurant ($115 - $180 is a meal for 3-4 people), so I don't really want to tip that much. Besides, these therapists make a lot more than minimum wage, unlike the wait staff at a restaurant who depend on gratuities to make a living."
"I work hard. Giving a one-hour massage is the equivalent of working out for an hour. Unlike the wait staff at a restaurant, I actually had to go to school to develop my skills. And as a trained professional, I had to pay for a license as a (insert your profession) to gain the knowledge of (insert skin care, anatomy, nail care, sanitation, as appropriate) in order to provide therapeutic services. So I definitely deserve a tip!"
Ugh. Talk about monkey in the middle. I can't stand when my technicians look eagerly in their tip boxes to fish out their gratuity envelopes, only to turn away in disgust when a) their client has not tipped them; or b) their client has not tipped them "enough." To me, any amount greater than $0 is a blessing because a) it could have been $0; b) some cultures do not tip - in fact, most cultures don't, including those in Europe and Asia; and c) a tip is supposed to be an expression of appreciation for a service. It should not be expected, it should be earned. And most of all, it should be appreciated by the receiver.
Of course, tipping is a big part of a technician's income. I think I figured out that tips are about 25% to 33% of their paychecks each month, so that is a huge deal to them. It's also a huge deal to me because I pay an additional 13.45% of their tip in payroll taxes, without receiving ANY economic benefit from their tip. And that's BEFORE any credit card charges are figured in either. It is literally a straw that can break the camel's back.
So from a financial perspective, I am on the fence about it. Sometimes I think, "Don't tip! If you tip, I'll have to pay taxes on that tip." Other times I think, "No, tip them...they work darn hard and do an outstanding job and deserve the extra money."
But bottom line...no one should *expect* a tip. EVER. And when they get one, they should be grateful. And when you, the client, come to our spa, you should NEVER feel like you are obligated to leave a tip, unless you really really enjoyed your service and want to let your technician know it.
So there are my two cents on tipping.