How a lack of access to beauty treatments is impacting mental health during lockdown

The shutdown of beauty and cosmetic treatments may too be a trigger. It’s believed that around 1.5 million of us in the UK will have had a nonsurgical treatment such as Botox or fillers this year and for many these procedures have already become a regular part of people’s lives. Under lockdown, however, access to treatments – be it cosmetic, hair and beauty – has stopped.

For many, the pandemic has caused increased anxiety, fear and feelings of loneliness and vulnerability – we’re under lockdown, facing an uncertain future and worried for our friends and family.

The true impact of coronavirus on mental health is not yet known, especially since we’re very much still in the thick of it, but UK charity the Zero Suicide Alliance warned that “the stress and worry of the coronavirus is bound to have impacted people’s mental health.”

Reece Tomlinson, CEO of Uvence, told GLAMOUR, “Cosmetic procedures are becoming more of a regular staple to ensuring a client can look and feel the way they desire. For some, cosmetic procedures and the result thereof represent a major facet in their self-identity and confidence.”

He added, “Similar to that of getting your hair cut or wearing makeup, cosmetic procedures (particularly non-invasive procedures such as dermal fillers and Botox) are becoming very much the cornerstone of one’s beauty regime. By removing the ability to receive treatments, some patients are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiousness due to the potential impact that not having a treatment may have on their appearance.”

Lockdown has also seen an upsurge in video calls which Tomlinson feels is exacerbating issues of self consciousness. “They present an opportunity to spend nearly the entire day staring at your own face – presenting hours on end for self-critique. Many people are also suffering from something described as ‘zoom fatigue’ where people are inexplicably drained after video calls. This has been attributed to being forced into a state of hyperawareness of how you look and present yourself while you are on the call.

Tomlinson added, “Cameras also do not show one’s true self. They are inverted images that can be unflattering, and lead people to believe that they need certain treatments to help with something that may be minimal in reality.”

It’s not just the treatments themselves that clients are missing out on, the lack of interaction with practitioners across the board can negatively impact mental health issues. Many hairdressers and barbers across the UK have recently embarked on mental health training where salon staff are taught how to spot signs of distress and how to effectively start that first supportive conversation, offering, as Tomlinson states, “a judgement-free, slightly anonymous opportunity for a client to open up.”

A recent study by Uvence revealed that 6% of people in the UK (2,590,000) tell their hairdresser or beauty technician more personal information than they do friends and family.

As Tomlinson reveals, “The UK in particular is notorious for maintaining a ‘stiff upper lip’ when it comes to dealing with emotional strain, and these people offer an outlet that allows people to step out of their day-to-day life and speak freely.”

With these services currently unavailable until at least July, many may have little or no opportunities to communicate to others outside of their homes.

While most cosmetic treatments aren’t deemed ‘essential services,’ the time away can be stressful for regular clients. Tomlinson tells us, “We’re trying to provide as much support as we can over the phone and through video calls to try and offer as much reassurance as we can in these trying times.”

“Whilst we would like to get back to providing treatments we are also not wanting to put any of our clients or staff at risk by opening prematurely or before it is deemed safe to do so.”

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