There’s never been a better time to break down the beauty barriers you may not have even known were there, Vitality writer Carly Hobbs looks at how you can improve accessibility for all in your salon.
Looking good and feeling good is for everyone, but from masks that create communication complications or physical access issues causing problems, it could be possible that we’re cutting off some of our clientele - potentially when they need us the most. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that it’s all about access and acceptance, so how can our beauty businesses break down the barriers with disabilities - both the seen and unseen? Here are our top ten tips for improving the beauty service you offer, for everyone...
1. It’s oh so quiet
For obvious reasons the unseen disabilities clients may experience themselves, or be dealing with when they bring a child, friend or relative with them to an appointment, can be the trickiest to deal with. This can cover conditions from Autism through to Asperger’s and everything in between. They often come with sensory triggers, which can be things like unexpected noises. The blast of a hairdryer or the whirr of a nail buffer can be distressing to some. With this in mind you could create some quiet sessions in salon, advertising these more chilled times in a subtle fashion, and then ensure the noisy equipment is used with warning, and you have a playlist of relaxing music or white noise lined up. For more info and ideas visit; beyondautism.org.uk
2. Ramp it up
Steps. Handy for some clients, not so much for others. Often our specially created beauty spaces are in older buildings or part of another set up. Allowing for wheelchairs, people using frames, crutches or sticks can be as simple as providing a ramp that you can put in place on demand. Find your perfect match at theramppeople.co.uk. On the top floor and no lift? Can you offer an added mobile service? Dedicating one evening a week for specialist services in clients’ own homes could make all of the inclusivity difference and make your beauty business stand out.
3. Mixed messages
Masks have become part of our everyday outfits, especially when getting a close contact service or performing one. However, for deaf clients it can cause issues when they rely on lip reading. In fact, many of us now are realising how much we rely on seeing someone’s whole face when communicating. There are some masks available with a clear section so that you can still lip read. You can even consider doing outdoor pre-treatment checks when the weather allows so everyone can go mask free. And if you really want to up your game why not try a British Sign Language course? It’s a handy and considerate skill. Find our more here; louderthanwords.org.uk.
4. Scent the scene
Beauty, in general, smells good. However, certain scents can really help clients overcome issues you can’t see. For example, rose and bergamot can soothe souls with anxiety and depression can be eased with the likes of lemon, geranium and neroli. These can be used via essential oils in massages, ingredients in facial products and via a diffuser in salon. Mobile? Try using a mist to set the scene when seeing clients who are experiencing tough times.
5. Running commentary
While some clients need space and quiet, others need information and reassurance. For conditions ranging from Downs to anxiety, a full explanation of what is going on and why you’re using certain techniques, products and methods, can turn a tense time into a fully enjoyable, immersive one. And the best way to work out if your pro commentary is needed? Just ask. Or if the client seems shy and unsure, build up your chat step by step to build up their confidence and enjoyability.
6. Feel it
When booking in clients with visual impairments understand that touch plays a key part. Make the service from greeting to goodbyes as hands on as possible. Get them to feel products, their treatment area, the results as you go…everything. Always offer them a plus one for bookings where they need it too.
7. Show a little patience
Kindness and patience are up there with the practical skills needed to work in beauty, however there may be days, with some clients, where you need to take a deeper breath and a bit more time. Give a client a little more of your time, space or understanding whenever the need crops up, especially key if at any point a treatment or service becomes overwhelming for someone. Ensure you have a chill out area available for anyone who needs it - this may even apply to staff too!
8. Doctor, doctor
If you have clients with complex needs linked to a disability or condition, it’s important you understand how best to treat them while not making them feel like it’s an issue. As beauty professionals we can make someone feel good, however in order to do this we may need to get extra info from their doctor or nurse where appropriate.
9. Follow the feedback
Concerned you’re missing a trick, or rather a client, when it comes to access, understanding or inclusivity? Put the feelers out for feedback. Use posts across social, make the most of your client mailing list database or even use an old school suggestions book in salon. Simple questions like, ‘How can we improve access to our salon and services?’ will help to open the feedback floodgates. No-one knows a condition or disability better than the person dealing with it. They’re the experts so use them.
10. Word up
The language we use with clients is as important as the physical support offered. For example, refer to the person and their wheelchair as two separate entities, always making your client feel like an individual rather than a piece of kit. Worried about causing offence by accident? Just ask your client for the terms and phrases they’re most comfortable with. Don’t shy or look away, deal with it like the professional you are.
Got an issue we haven’t covered? Or found your own clever way to improve access? Share it on our Instagram page, when we post this piece in the comments or drop us a line at email@example.com