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Post-lockdown trends hint at a new normal for the Australian beauty services industry

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL CHEN

Say hello to virtual consultations and goodbye to the walk-in.

Salons and spas are just starting to reopen following the COVID-induced lockdown closures, and many of us will be itching to make an appointment or three.

But the pandemic has led to a variety of new practices being adopted, and some salons have entirely pivoted how they carry out their services. So what will this new normal be, and what does it mean for the customers and clients?

Mindbody, a leading wellness app, has found six new trends we’ll see in Australia as the beauty industry slowly reopens its doors, and some look like they’re here to stay. 

Death of the walk-in

The first thing to go? Walk-in appointments. Following the pandemic, salons and spas will have constrained capacity. They may need to move stations further apart to meet social distancing guidelines, and they’ll need to add time between each appointment to ensure proper cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitising. Most likely, there will be fewer opportunities for clients to get their services.

Many salons and spas are preparing to limit clients and increase appointment spacing. Waitlists are going to be an important part of this reopening period, so customers should make sure they book in advance, which they can do easily via apps like Mindbody.

Saltuary, a spa with a naturopathic approach in Sydney is encouraging customers to make bookings online for float therapy, infrared saunas and salt therapy. It is more important than ever to ensure you build up your immunity, but by booking online, people can reduce the contact time.

Consultations go virtual

As salons and spas reopen, the more that can be done online, the better. Many clients will have to work with their hairstylists to strategise on regrowth. By taking a consultation online, stylists can consult with a client without having to take extra time for cleaning and losing a chair that could be used for someone actively getting a cut or colour.

Stylists can ensure that when the client does come in that they’ve got the proper amount of colour at the ready. Incorporating virtual consultations is a smart move, one that many salons and spas have already made. Dr Joanna Teh at Dermedica has been taking virtual consultations to prequalify clients before attending the clinic for treatment and believes that virtual consults are here to stay.

Cleanliness is everything

Salons and spas will make significant efforts to showcase how clean they are. Unsurprisingly, cleanliness will be an increasingly important factor for people when selecting a beauty business. If anything, salons and spas need to calm clients’ nerves and overcommunicate cleaning efforts.

Sydney blow-dry salon, Blow Bar Co is continuing to take hygiene and sanitisation very seriously. Its clients will be greeted with hand sanitiser upon entry, and they will be disinfecting every station and all tools before and after each appointment, and menus and magazines have been removed to help minimise any risk of contamination. Pellis Medispa in Sydney has been adhering to many of these standards prior to COVID but will now be checking the temperature of clients, too.

The front desk goes away

Salons and spas offer high touch services, which makes following social distancing recommendations an impossibility. While, of course, we’ll see attempts to make services as safe as possible, spas and salons can massively reduce in-store contact during the check-in and payment processes.

Going forward, beauty businesses will have clients interact with as few people as possible to minimise the risk. At Pellis Medispa, everything will be disposable and only six people will be allowed in the salon at one time, with only two people in the treatment room. They will advise clients to come alone and if they are unwell to reschedule.

Retail renewal

In the past, part of the front desk experience has been upselling products in front of an eye-catching retail display. Going forward, staff will carefully distribute samples (of everything from makeup and cosmetics to skincare to hair and beauty products) to clients individually to limit potential contamination.

These days, having product out in the open is just one more risk, so spas and salons looking to keep clients safe will have product directly shipped to their clients’ homes or safely stored in the back.

Growth of boutique beauty and grooming

Despite the global pandemic, we’re going to continue to see a rise in boutique beauty and grooming – beauty businesses that specialise in specific services (think lash bars, blow dry bars, etc). With a limited-service menu, these boutique beauty and grooming businesses can quickly adapt their offerings to accommodate new protocols for health and safety.

While feeling ones best and spending time on beauty and grooming might not have been a priority during the shelter-at-home period, many people think of beauty and grooming businesses as their sanctuary, and they’re eager to get back. 

Blow Bar Co has also launched a new initiative called Blow Bar Co Gives Back, where it has removed the traditional pricing structure and invited women in to enjoy a wash and blow and pay only what they can afford, as an initiative to give back to the community and help provide a much-needed boost for people during these tough times. “It’s a small gesture but hopefully it can make a difference to the lives and livelihoods of our network of women, and in turn, their families!”  says Leigh Dole, the salon chain’s founder and director.

mindbodyonline.com

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