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Hush, we’re cutting: how the pandemic has changed our behavior in hair salons | Beauty

There is an old joke where a hairdresser asks his client; “How do you want me to cut your hair?” and the client replies, “Quietly, thank you.” If the joke had been invented today, it may have lost some of its humor: “We know that not everyone wants to chat every time they go to the hairdresser, so the Silent Chair service is a free option for our clients”, they explain from the website of the Bauhaus hairdresser, in the Welsh city of Cardiff, whose silent treatment service was a pioneer in the United Kingdom and has been in operation since 2015, “it means that during your appointment you can relax in peace and do what you need to do, from catching up on emails, reading, or just unplugging. We won’t ask you questions about anything other than your hair or if you want another cup of coffee.” In cities like London, New York or Sydney, some hairdressers and beauty salons have begun to offer the possibility of booking for a ‘silent treatment’, especially since the end of confinement, and this time without a special chair. The question “Would you like to chat with us or would you prefer us to be silent?” has begun to form part of the questionnaire prior to a haircut in a salon in one of the most modern neighborhoods of Sydney, according to the British newspaper The Guardian, thus allowing its clientele to decide whether that day they prefer to have a relaxed conversation or use that time to do other things. Regarding the reasons for this decision, hairdressers and stylists consulted in the aforementioned article point to pandemic fatigue, which has transformed hairdressing talk into a string of commonplaces, as well as the need for clients to disconnect, who are increasingly looking for with more effort its “zen moment” or one more space from which to telework. Curiously, hairdressers are one of the few spaces dedicated to beauty and well-being where the policy of silence is not applied. Other places such as spas, spas or cabins for massages and facial and body treatments tend to enhance that “zen moment” through an environment with dim lighting, scented candles, relaxing music and, of course, little conversation. They are spaces that invite you to do nothing, while someone does everything for you. Hairdressers, along with nail salons, have remained on the sidelines of this trend, being rather noisy spaces in which chatter is usually well received: face-to-face with the manicurist or face-to-face mirror with the hairdresser favor so be it. Hairdressing, in Spain, has been synonymous with confessional: “I think I would have to write a book with the very personal things that they tell me, but I can’t say anything, for me it’s a professional secret” wrote a person in a WhatsApp group with 16 hairdressers and hairdressers from various autonomous communities and different ages that they created in Verne to discover some of the unspeakable secrets of the profession. “We are psychologists for many clients,” said another. “You listen a lot to understand their problems. There are few professions like ours,” wrote a third. NiM Salón is one of the most modern hairdressers in the capital, a striking space for being completely dyed cotton candy pink, something that delights its clients when it comes to uploading a photograph with their new look to Instagram. Manu Guillén and Natalia Infantes are the co-founders and co-directors of this raucous and unusual fantasy space. They hear for the first time the concept of ‘silent hairdressing’ from the mouth of this journalist: “I have a hard time imagining, at least here in Spain, that there are really silent salons in which no one speaks because, although there are clients who do prefer to be in silence and relax, for others relaxation consists of the opposite: coming here, talking about their life and telling you a little about their problems to let off steam, ”says Manu Guillén to S Moda. In his salon, no client has specifically asked him for a silent treatment, but he says that, as a professional, these things are intuitive: “Being a good professional consists of knowing the limits of each client: I have clients with whom I talk a lot, but I also have the ability to understand if silence is more relaxing for a client, and in the end, when you like to make your client happy, you adapt to both formats». Although it is also at the forefront when it comes to hair trends and innovation, SALON44 hairdressing has a different atmosphere. As soon as you walk through its doors, the calm is striking, favored by its decoration in neutral tones where wood and black over white prevail, accompanied by a relaxing background music. To Xavi García, founder and creative director of SALON44, the concept of ‘silent hairdressing’ does not sound strange: «The first times a client enters our salon he is usually surprised by the silence. Our philosophy is closely related to the spa service and we try to ensure that, as soon as they walk through the door, the client disconnects from what is on the street. If a client arrives stressed and brings all the stress from outside inside, he cannot get away from his problems. When a client comes in, after making their diagnosis, the first step we do is a relaxing scalp massage and this is intentional for the client to cut off the outside world.” Jose Pérez Peluqueros is located in the Madrid neighborhood of La Concepción, it is a charming barber shop decorated in a vintage style, with off-color furniture and various decorative elements such as old books or an old typewriter displayed on a display case in which they combine products from beauty with little dolls. Jose Pérez has been in the profession for more than 40 years and, in addition to his own hairdressing salon, previously specializing in men and women, and now exclusively for men, he is the president of the Madrid Hairdressing Association: «The first time I heard about this concept was in 2018 and it seemed to me something different: in the end, in a business you always have to ask yourself what distinguishes you from your competition and the techniques of the future in terms of hairdressing go towards specialization, differentiation and value, and that It could add value to a certain customer profile that is looking for exactly that.” The idea does not surprise him because he considers that this has been done in hairdressing for many years, although it had not been given a name: «Something that the hairdressing professional must learn is undoubtedly the psychology towards the client so that it allows them to evaluate their needs . And sometimes the client, with his body language, is already telling you that he has not come to chat because he is looking for another type of experience, and making his visit pleasant to build loyalty is also part of our job ». The concept of hairdressing has evolved over the years, in the opinion of Xavi García of SALON44: “The old school of hairdressing was more talkative, and most of the conversations had nothing to do with hair.” The hairdresser as a meeting and relaxation center, especially for women, who in the past were dedicated to caring for the home and the family and visiting the hairdresser was a fundamental pillar of social life, has given way to a space where time can be optimized . A study on the emotional importance of the personal image sector, prepared by the Alliance for the reduction of VAT to 10% in hairdressing salons, which included the participation of more than 1,700 aesthetic hairdressing salons and barbershops throughout Spain, revealed a series of data on our relationship with hairdressers: 82.96% of the people surveyed recognized that their mood improved after their visit and 86.9% of clients have been going to the same salon for 5 years with an estimated frequency of 30.1 days. Sufficient time to establish a bond between professional and client. In recent years, the pandemic has brought about a fundamental change in this relationship: «Since teleworking has been implemented, many clients come to the salon with their computer and set up their mini-office, we must bear in mind that sometimes we are talking about long treatments , of around three or four hours, and thus our clients advance their work and do not waste their time”, explains Xavi García. The talkative or silent haircut seems to have more to do with the circumstances than with a trend: “We hairdressers who have been around for a long time usually create a bond with our clients and tell each other our things, especially if we are alone,” says Jose Pérez, «but lately we are experiencing a period of tension and accumulated stress as a result of the pandemic, job changes, uncertainty or the return to morning traffic jams… so having a relaxing moment at the hairdresser, in silence, without noise exterior… that is touching the sky with the tips of the fingers». Like Manu Guillén from NiM Salón and Jose Pérez, Xavi García also points to psychology more than to the questionnaire to find out if a client prefers to speak or remain silent forever: «I don’t see the need to test the client beforehand, I find it somewhat cold. More than doing it, in the end it is detecting it ». The three professionals consulted are committed to respect and common sense. «I have worked in other salons: I have worked in salons where there was a lot of talk, little or nothing at all», explains Guillén, «in the end it depends on the concept of each salon but now that I have mine, I will tell you that in this one there is already talk people like to talk. In the end you make a bit of a clientele and the clientele you have is a bit like you». Xavi Martínez shares the same opinion and says that in his salon, where several stylists work, each one of them shows off a style, more or less talkative, and each of them ends up having a similar clientele, more or less talkative . In his case, yes, he prefers to work in silence: «I am of the opinion that any professional, whatever they do, works better if they are concentrated and without interruptions, so silence is also beneficial for us». Jose Pérez also emphasizes the importance of silence for professionals: «We hairdressers have a tendency to suffer from certain hearing problems, because a hairdresser is usually very noisy, not only because of the conversation but because of the constant sound of the dryers: silence also It’s a thank you for us.” That the three professionals consulted for this article mention the word psychology is not trivial, since on many occasions hairdressers have become improvised therapists: this is given to them with the position and with the training that, since the seventies and after the boom of the star hairdressers, the new stylists began to receive training in ‘salon psychology’ in the academies, since the client puts his personal image and his self-esteem in the hands of his hairdresser, with all that this implies: from insecurities, doubts, fears or desire for new beginnings. The art of knowing how to listen is important: “There is a well-known phrase in hairdressing that says that the client does not care if you have a cold, what matters is telling you that he has a cold,” jokes Jose Pérez. Of course, a certain psychology is required or “what this broad field that is psychology can mean in the mouth of a hairdresser, which is nothing more than determining what a client needs: if it is silence, if it is conversation or if it is to entertain him with a joke”. In the end, the figure of the hairdresser/therapist is still valid, this time adapted to the new needs of the population. It is up to the client to choose if he prefers a more or less silent company.

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– Article Written By @Beatriz Serrano from https://smoda.elpais.com/belleza/silencio-estamos-cortando-como-la-pandemia-ha-cambiado-nuestro-comportamiento-en-las-peluquerias/

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