The British Beauty Council has launched six inspirational short films in a series called Bring Back Beauty, to highlight how hairdressing and beauty salons go beyond a little pampering and are, in fact, essential to our health and wellbeing.
Shot by renowned beauty director Simon Emmett, the films explore the role of salons beyond just aesthetics – focusing on the integral role they play in the community as a safe inclusive space and place to build back; and how they provide emotional support and instil personal confidence.
Each film features conversations with business owners whose salons have come back from the brink of collapse, as well as with clients who lost a crucial coping mechanism during lockdown.
"These biographical films showcase what the beauty industry really does for its clients and how essential they are to British communities up and down the country," says Millie Kendall MBE, chief executive of The British Beauty Council. "Whether it's your sexual orientation and fitting in, or whether it's being supported through cancer treatment or the loss of a loved one, the benefits of salons go above and beyond simply having a haircut or a facial."
Sadly, more than 7,000 salons in the UK have gone out of business since last March following the forced closures in light of the pandemic; the British Beauty Council fears more businesses will suffer the same fate unless people start returning for treatments.
Worth an estimated £30 billion in the UK, the beauty industry was one of the sectors most heavily impacted by Covid-19 measures, with salons shut for more than 200 days of lockdown. It employs more than 600,000 people, of which more than 80 per cent are women.
The series begins with 'Friday Ladies' which follows the story of a group of women who have visited the same salon, The Hair Surgery in Wollaston, every Friday for 30 years. It explores how the salon with its owner Tim has been a coping mechanism for the ladies through cancer and loss of loved ones – and touches on how they have coped with the twists and turns of life in Covid. "You're made to feel special – that's why you come to the hairdresser's isn't it? When you walk out, you think great," says Jenny.
In 'Sugaring', we meet Tabia Farhin Salam who describes how, before the pandemic, sugaring – a hair removal treatment that uses just water, lemon and sugar – transformed her life. "It felt like a miracle. I genuinely felt like a new person." But then the salon closed as Covid hit. "I slowly saw the hair growth coming back and saw what my face looked like. Knowing the business survived – they are one of my support systems."
'Not Another Salon' tells the story of how Sophia Hilton opened the salon for "people who don't feel they fit in with the rest of the world". Some have so much anxiety, she says, that some only write down what they would like on a piece of paper. "I use pretty much every pronoun in the book – I am gender fluid person from Italy," says client, Wade. "When you're here, you can be the best version of yourself and not be ashamed of the looks or the judgment."
In 'Crown', we meet James Lefevre who thought it was "game over" for his salon after the first lockdown – and then last summer, he was diagnosed with ADHD. He began working for charity as way of escaping his house, which opened his world. "If the pandemic taught us anything, it is to be kind to each other," he says. Now returned to the salon, James adds: "When you go to a hair salon you're supporting people that do more than just style your hair."
Finally, in 'Life Spa' we hear from Jonida Lile, owner of LifeSpa, who wasn't sure what the future would hold when the restrictions forced her salon to close. She was scared – not just for the survival of her business but also for her staff, many of whom were single mums. "I had to get financial help to pay their wages – I didn't want to put them in a difficult position mentally or physically." The salon has since reopened, buoyed by support from the local community. "Customers were buying gift vouchers even though we were closed. They have been amazing," adds Jonida.
For more information on the Bring Back Beauty campaign and to see all videos in the series, go to: britishbeautycouncil.com. Meanwhile, if you've not yet booked that appointment, now's the time to do so.