Hair confessions: why do we open up to our hairstylist?
For some people, hair salon small talk is a pleasant way to pass the time, but for others – the relationship with their hairstylist runs far deeper. Hairstylists, or hairapists as some of us like to call them, can be trusted with all sorts of personal issues from their salon guests.
For most of us, when we book in with our stylist, we know that we’ll have a lot more to chat about than just hair. Usually, within the first 20 or 30 minutes of our hair appointment, we’ve already managed to discuss our date from last weekend and how to approach our boss about that pay rise…
Hairstylists, or hairapists as we’ll frequently refer to them from now, discuss far more than just cuts, colours and blow-dries with their salon guests. Yet for them, it is just another day at work. Our latest research shows hairstylists often learn a great deal about the person sat in their chair. It’s no surprise then, that over time relationships are built and trust is founded.
When it comes to making conversation, it’s fair to say that everyone is different – especially when it comes to chatting with your hairstylist. We’re not going to lie, we did have a chuckle at Regis HQ as we discussed which type of conversationalist we were whenever we visited the salon. Amongst us were the accidental oversharers, the politely quiet, those who can’t-stop-won’t-stop and those who have a knack for making new lifelong friends literally anywhere they go.
Though there really is no right or wrong, as we believe everyone is different and that is what makes us unique. This is, in part, why we love the hairdressing industry. We get to meet people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and life circumstances. All these differences certainly make for interesting (and sometimes very honest) salon chats.
According to our recent survey a lot of us like to keep things on a ‘small talk’ basis, with 55% of salon discussions based around upcoming holidays – we do love a good vacay chat! At the risk of sounding shamefully stereotypical, us Brits are either talking about the holiday blues having just come back or how excited we are at the prospect of planning the next one. Besides interesting and light-hearted chats about beaches and airport outfits, there is also a more serious side to salon conversation. A good proportion of us feel comfortable enough to talk about more sensitive topics whilst in the salon chair. These range from things like medical issues (21%), family issues (30%) and work stress (26%).
Not all salon-chat is hard pressing however. According to our survey, a popular topic was in fact the weather – how quintessentially British! Nearly 45% of us choose to bring up the subject of the weather with our trusted hairapist. This comes as no surprise though, as a 2018 study concluded British people spent a whopping four months of their lives talking about the weather. Should that even come as a surprise? Probably not. Nearly 50% of us professed to talking about the temperature, sun-shine or rain when making small talk, so seeing this as a popular topic with hairstylists was not out of the ordinary.
Of course, hairstylists are not psychologists, counsellors, social workers, or therapists. However, their daily interaction with a broad range of people provides them with excellent listening skills. Helping salon guests feel confident is pretty much the name of the game with all good hairstylists.
Yes – choosing a beautiful new haircut and colour is certainly a confidence booster, but so is being able to talk in confidence with someone who is not a close friend and therefore, who’s opinion is impartial and, in most circumstances, welcomed.
So, why are we so quick to trust hairapists with our innermost thoughts? Why them and not, say, our favourite baristas, uber drivers, or dentists?
Salon manager Catherine explained:
“Working in an industry where you are physically in such close proximity to someone does something to break down barriers. My guests trust me when I touch them to cut hair or add colour, and unlike doctors or dentists, there’s a ‘feel-good’ factor.”
You could argue that the same goes for beauty therapists and masseuses. However, with holistic and aromatherapy services it is thought that you must be relatively quiet in order to enjoy a massage or relaxation treatment. Whereas with hairdressing, conversation is encouraged throughout the appointment in order to understand your hairstyling needs.
Yet, when asked ‘Do you look forward to your hair appointment so you can have a ‘natter’?’, 27% of us confessed: ‘No – I don’t tend to natter at my hair appointments’. Leading us to believe that there’s a bunch of us out there who couldn’t think of anything worse than opening up to someone who we have yet to fully trust. That’s probably why 20% of us confessed to only enjoying small talk with our hairstylists and nothing more.
However, those who do tend to break down their barriers with hairstylists, do so in a remarkably personal way – with conversations around infidelity, money worries and personal secrets that even their closest friends are unaware of.
Catherine believes there may be a connection between physical contact and a willingness to divulge secrets.
“When I start touching people’s heads, necks, and shoulders, the physical distance between us is gone, and as a result the emotional distance begins to break down as well.” she says. “Building trust with hairstylists automatically comes into play for our salon guests. They trust us so much to get their hair right, so when we do I think they feel like they can open up and tell us anything because we’ve been able to understand them and get something that matters so much to them, their hair, right for them.”
While befriending your hair guru, or hairapist (or whatever it is you tend to call your hairstylist!), it’s important to point out that at Regis, our stylists work hard to maintain a professional relationship that is never compromised.
“Confidentiality is an unwritten rule, where although we can’t solve their problems, we’re happy to provide a safe place where salon guests can share if they choose to”, says Catherine.
Our stylists are trained to create an inclusive salon environment where there is no expectation to divulge personal stories, make small talk or even remain silent for that matter. For our guests, anything goes – so long as it continues to preserve the harmony that can always be found in a Regis salon.
“Guests can come in and be as chatty or as quiet as they want to, there really is no judgement.”
How do you view your relationship with your hairstylist? Tweet us your thoughts @regisuk using the hashtag #hairconfessions.