Ten hours of smiling. Suppressing emotions in the beauty industry

faking smile

You welcome the client with a smile. You smile while they talk about their expectations, even though you already know this will be a difficult case. You keep that grin on your face during the whole service, even though it’s not going as planned and you feel extremely anxious. You keep your chin up when the client yells at you, accusing of ruining their hair, even though the problem occurred because they lied to you during the initial consultation. You maintain friendly expression while explaining how you’ll fix the problem. When they storm out, you keep smiling. When the door closes, the only thing you feel like doing is going to bed and bursting into tears. But it’s not even noon, you have seven more hours to go and your next client just walked in.Time to put on a big smile again and keep going.

Working in the beauty industry, you are expected to always look cheerful and contended, in order to keep the atmosphere positive and upbeat. Your customers come to the salon to relax and unwind, so you have to neglect your real emotions and built a facade of a carefree, lively, chitty-chatty person who works in the most breezy and laid-back industry in the world. However, pretending that it’s only sunshine and rainbows in your life every single day for 8-10 hours straight can seriously strain your nerves. Withholding your true emotions can negatively affect your mental health. So how can you deal with this problem and be the beauty specialist clients want to spend time with without sacrificing your true feelings?

Tip: It’s much easier to cope with the problem if the salon you work at is a mentally healthy workplace. If you are a salon owner or manager, make sure you promote a positive work environment – check our checklist regarding the topic.

The risks

Let’s establish one thing: there are no such things as negative emotions. All of them are perfectly normal and necessary – happiness, sadness, irritation and fear play important roles. It’s the way we express certain emotions that can be hurtful, but the feeling itself is something you are fully entitled to. Suppressing what we really feel, in the long term, is unnatural and makes your body tense and your mind confused and tired. As a result, you become prone to emotional outbursts. It’s like stuffing all of your clothes in a wardrobe instead of sorting them out in shelves – the room will look tidy for a while, until the wardrobe becomes so full it explodes.

It’s not as bad if you keep a friendly facade in the workplace but let yourself go once with your friends and family. However, many beauty specialists transfer this pattern of behaviour to their private lives. They support their friends and family like nobody else, always ready to listen and comfort them… and never talk about their own struggles, pretending they are fine and have everything under control. They take a “subservient” approach – constantly smiling, always ready to provide, always playing the supporting role.

Moreover, psychologists point out that faking a smile when actually feeling unhappy leads to an internal cognitive dissonance, causing not only temporary confusion, but a long-lasting sense of uneasiness. It’s especially true if you are going through an episode of depression or anxiety.

The solution

It’s not easy to reconcile being a self-aware, self-caring person with providing beauty services, as you are prone to neglect your own needs and feelings in the name of providing the best experience for the customer. As mentioned earlier, we all have to restrain expressing our emotions a little bit when in the workplace – that’s just a social norm, especially in the service industry. But how to keep the situation as healthy as possible?

  • Smile less, but more genuinely. Don’t feel obligated to have a grin on your face during the entire service if you are having a bad day. It’s perfectly fine to limit the number of happy grins to a welcome and goodbye smile (plus one in every situation when you truly feel like it). However, try to make them genuine – let the customer know that you are happy to see them, even if you’re not in the greatest mood.
  • Take breaks. Go to the restroom. Go outside, if you can. Cry, if you are sad and punch the wall if you are angry. Reconnect with your true feelings. Then take a few deep breaths. Send a text to your best friend, admitting that your day is not the greatest and that you’ll call them after work – you will feel much better knowing that you can be honest with someone.
  • Talk to someone. Do you have a friend among your teammates? It doesn’t have to be a very close one, just a person you like and know you can trust. Tell them you are going through a rough day – you don’t even have to describe the situation in detail, it’s enough to just admit to someone that your mood isn’t the greatest. Once again, it can be a great relief just to tell someone how you really feel today.
  • Find peace with close ones. Be honest with your friends or family – tell them about your day and the emotions you have gone through.
  • Let it go after hours. Physical activities, like dancing or running, are said to be the best to get rid of emotional tension. However, anything that will make you feel better is a great idea – read a book, watch an episode of your favourite TV show, do something creative.
  • If you are going through something really difficult, consider taking a break. Sometimes the situation can get truly overwhelming. Maybe it’s time to take a few days off, recharge, spend time with your friends and family. Your health is far more important than your work, no matter how much you love it!

There is also one more important fact to realise – sometimes it’s not really your customers who expect you to be cheerful all the time. The truth is, you might be competing with yourself – always setting the bar higher. Clients are people just like you and most of them understand that we all go through some rough days from time to time. Some of them don’t even pay enough attention to notice that you are less talkative and smiley. As long as you are still professional, friendly and provide good customer service, your less upbeat than normal mood is not a problem. Don’t force yourself to be an idealistic version of yourself when you are struggling to keep that smile on – you are a great beauty specialist and that’s what matters the most.

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