3 mins


I’m writing this ahead of this magazine’s leading exhibition, Professional Beauty London, which has long been the launchpad for the best brands operating in the sector to showcase their innovations in products and services. Attended by a host of beauty, spa and nail professionals, it’s the must-see show to discover what’s new and different for everything every selfrespecting beauty salon, nail bar or spa needs in order to stay at the forefront of what’s going on.

I’ve been fascinated with the way our industry has changed with the advent of social media influencers, TikTok and YouTubers. Most clients are so much more informed than they ever were before – watching Reels about how to do gel nails, and apply fake tan and make-up.

This has undoubtedly impacted our customers, and for those with Gen-Z clients [or children!] these visual lessons have arguably supplanted some of our services in some respects. However, it was interesting the other day when one of my lead hairdressers was doing some session work, to get this feedback from the photographer, someone who is a leader in their field. They stated that they would rather not work with YouTubers or anyone who hasn’t been properly trained on a salon floor.

Strong foundations

They argued that as wonderful as the hair might look after being freshly created, from experience, all too often their work didn’t have the staying power to withstand the lights and time of a gruelling photographic shoot, where outfits are changed and models get tired. The much-needed ability to hold was not something some self-styled session hairdressers could recreate.

Of course, much like bridal hair or up-dos, the foundation of the style is key. Getting the “scaffolding” right is essential, and some of the skills needed to create that structure are a bit of a dying art. Our salon has an ethos of passing the baton of educating the next generation in things like pin curls and roller setting, which has become our trademark. Not every tiara will stay put without creating a solid base on which to stich it in, for example. Some of these skills are considered a dying art, [and aren’t even taught at colleges anymore] but they are vital to ensuring we’ve cemented our reputation, and will always be on our training syllabus.

“Nobody would let a TRAINEE SURGEON conduct an IMPORTANT OPERATION if they could see a CONSULTANT who was renowned IN THEIR FIELD instead”

The value of experience

This got me thinking about the beauty industry, and just how valued our skills should be. Is there ever any real substitute for the unrivalled knowledge that grassroots experience brings? When I think of our Metrospa team, what I know is that they are a really safe pair of hands. Between the seven of them, they’ve got over 152 years’ experience in the beauty industry. That is something I’m no stranger to shouting about. It’s how we can demand a premium for our services.

Perhaps experience is becoming an asset we have to get better at marketing as a sector... perhaps we don’t put enough value on it. I know with things like ear piercing, IPL, electrolysis or even the skill involved in diagnosing skin complaints and helping remedy them, there is nothing like feeling the expert you are trusting is accomplished. Nobody would let a trainee surgeon conduct an important operation if they could see a consultant who was renowned in their field instead.

Cost conscious

With clients feeling the pinch from the cost-of-living crisis, everyone is watching the pennies. In general, people don’t have the disposable income they once did post- Covid. Almost everybody is conscious of their spend. So, if we have real experts, those professionals with a wealth of experience, we should be ensuring our clients know just how talented they are and charge accordingly. People will always pay for expertise. Specialist knowledge is something you can’t put a price on.

So, let ’s celebrate the pros that we are, and keep it pro. Upskilling ourselves with new innovations in services and products as well as the techniques that accompany them has never been so impor tant, and what bet ter place to do so than our biggest and best trade show?

Hellen Ward is managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London and a beauty ambassador for the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF).

This article appears in March 2023

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March 2023
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