Put your oxygen mask on first

Nicky Pope The Blog

We have one message for hairdressing UK this week: Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others! Yes, we know it’s counter-intuitive, but seriously you must.

Yay! It’s happy news that Wales, Scotland and next week England, finally opens up personal contact businesses. There’s much to celebrate BUT as you return to work in the salon and begin again to care for your clients, and your team, you need to indulge in some self-care first.

Why the need for self-care?

Think about it; switching from being at home, probably living in a small circle of people, to suddenly working hard surrounded by others will be a shock to the system. Eye contact, conversation, thinking on your feet – it’s energy-draining stuff. Although you’ve longed for it, there’s a possibility you’ll feel overwhelmed. Weird yet true.

Jo Irving; business coach 

Jo Irving low resSpeaking to business coach and hairdresser Jo Irving (@joloveshair) this week for the Respectfully podcast, we discussed how the focus should be on self-care. After weeks at home, there’s a temptation to jump straight back into days of long hours in order to meet client demand. Jo has this to say: “It might be the first time clients have seen someone for a long time, and they’re telling you their story of what’s happened… that’s hard. Especially when it’s happening many times a day. As hairdressers you have to protect your energy a little bit.”

Care for others

Watch out for yourself and your colleagues. Be aware that we’ve all experienced different journeys this past year and while it’s good to share, it can be tough to listen to stories of loss, suffering and sadness. Think about how to cope and build in time to share, or change the mood throughout the day. Again Jo has wise advice: “Go for a quick walk around the block… you can’t do something energetic like 5 star jumps and feel the same afterwards! So expend energy. Even going outside for 5 minutes helps. Instead of asking your team if they’ve completed a task between clients, ask if they’ve taken some time out, and how are they feeling?”

Say no to the long day

It’s important to be realistic about hours worked, too. We know it’s very tempting to plan longer days to cram in all the clients who are desperate to see you, but is this sensible? Who are you doing it for – you or them? Becoming tired, not eating properly, not checking in with yourself will wear you out. And while many salon owners are concerned about staff leaving to go mobile… remember why they might want to do this. Jo reports that in her experience of talking to many hairdressers at all levels, they aspire to work freelance primarily because they don’t want to work 12 hour days… it’s so draining. Be prepared to change your hours and shift structure. Would shorter days or more free time actually be ultimately more profitable in terms of work output. “Everyone is so fearful of changing the norm,” says Jo. “But the alternative is that you might lose your staff. Think more how can you support them, what can you do to make it better for them.

Put your oxygen mask on first

Good luck!

The big return to salons all over the UK is a fantastic relief and a challenge. Get your oxygen mask ready… and breathe deeply. You are all amazing and you can do this!
Written with love and support from all the team at Respect for Hair


Respect is a hub for UK hairdressers of all ages and stages to find out what We LoveWe Hear and We See as the best product launches, styling advice, hairtools, education training and seminars and hairshows! Sign up to our newsletter which is sent fortnightly direct to your email, so you stay up-to-date with salon styling information, trends in session work, advice on presenting on stage or progress in educating – whatever your interest, whether you’re a trainee or creative director, an educator or team leader, you’ll find all the opportunities and ideas on www.respectyou.me

We love hairdressing; we see and we hear how you can become the best hairdresser, colourist and salon owner possible. Contact us if you’d like to know more about us. If it’s worth talking about, you’ll read it here.