Smart Ways to Stay Healthy in the Salon

Dedicated to health and fitness, Sassoon owns two successful pilates studios.

Does any of this sound familiar: haphazard eating, aches and pains from repetitive motions, anxiety and tension from continually giving advice. It’s the all-too-common, unhealthy lifestyle of a hairdresser. Eden Sassoon, daughter of the world-famous hairdresser Vidal Sassoon and owner of EDEN by Eden Sassoon (@edenbyedensassoon), is determined to change this punishing lifestyle and encourage hairdressers and salon owners to commit to wellness. It’s a plight that everyone at Beauty Gives Back, (beautygivesback.care) a nonprofit organization dedicated to wellness and the fight against the global water crisis, is devoted to embracing. “My father was very busy with work and his family, but exercise was his time,” says Sassoon. “It was when he cleared his mind and centered himself.” Following in the icon’s footsteps, Sassoon is championing healthy lifestyles within the salon community.  

The Main Complaints
Here’s a simple fact about hairdressers: They’re natural-born givers, passionate and adept at multitasking. But these wonderful qualities come with a price. “Hairdressers give, and give, and give all day long. It’s the nature of the job. It’s a physical job and over time people become worn down and develop injuries,” says Lisa Botts, a Beauty Gives Back Art Team Member and Co-Founder of Straight Pin Studio (straightpinstudiola.com). “The complaints I hear most are poor nutrition, fatigue, body aches, knee, shoulder and back issues. It’s a combination of working on hard floors, doing repetitive motions, eating on the go and simply doing too much in every area of their lives.”

The open-air plan at EDEN by Eden Sassoon in Los Angeles

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The Fitness Connection 
Vidal Sassoon once said, “If the body is strong, the mind is strong,” and he practiced what he preached. “He was as disciplined in his health, as he was in his craft,” says Sassoon. “He swam a mile a day and he did pilates. He made sure to move his body every day.” It’s not about becoming a total fitness aficionado, but finding a way to integrate fitness—a type of exercise you actually enjoy—into your everyday routine. “It’s not easy to incorporate fitness in to your life, but it’s worth it. I have never felt better than I have the last two years,” says Charlie Price, (charliepricehair.com), Beauty Gives Back Art Team Member and two time NAHA North American Hairstylist of the Year winner. “I’m no Olympian, and I won’t be appearing in a fitness magazine anytime soon, but working out has literally made me feel younger.” When trying to find your “fitness passion,” Botts suggests that you focus on the activity—be it hiking, swimming or dancing—rather than the outcome the exercise gives you. Search for “empty windows” of time to plug in the activity. Have a cancelation? Take a quick walk around the neighborhood. On your way home? Stop off at the local pool and cool off with some laps. After a few months, you’ll find your rhythm and start to feel better, even during your work hours. 

Like her father, Eden Sassoon exercises every day.

The Diet Dilemma 
“I survived on pizza, pasta and soda for decades—and my body paid for it,” says Price. “Maybe that’s why I have been so grouchy for so many years.” In the salon, poor nutrition comes from a daily grind that doesn’t lend itself to incorporating healthy meals or snacks. A client comes in late, and you make up the time by working through your lunch break. You want to take as many clients as possible, so you give yourself a measly 10 minutes to grab a coffee and some fries. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed a stylist standing over the trash can, shoving a sandwich in her mouth,” says Botts. From Price’s point of view, the solution lies with the salon owners. “Bring in healthy snacks—not cookies or bowls of candy—for staff meetings. Entice them with rewards, perks and gifts—like a gift certificate to Whole Foods—if they eat right,” says Price. “Do fun things like have a healthy potluck instead of a pizza party, or hire a nutritionist to cook them a salon dinner. If you take care of your staff, they’ll take care of you. Healthy people are happier and more productive.”

Lisa Botts, Beauty Gives Back Art Team Member and Co-Founder Straight Pin Studio

The Mental State
In our people-driven industry, hairdressers are used to giving away their energy—dutifully listening to clients talk about their relationship problems, children issues and career concerns. It’s simply part of the job while you focus on making them feel beautiful. “But if that energy exchange is negative or a downer, you’ll take that on,” says Botts. “And, as a result, we see a lot of stress, anxiety, depression and even addiction in the beauty community.” To enrich your life and career, hairdressers have to start taking care of their mental wellness the same way they’re constantly taking care of others. It could be as simple as getting a massage every month, planning a regular get-together with a dear friend, seeing a therapist to get things off your chest, getting acupuncture or making sure you get enough sleep. “Being well rested and blowing off steam at the gym has helped make me far less bitchy, reactionary and on edge,” says Price. For the salon owner, Botts suggests focusing on creating a purpose-driven culture that supports relaxation, communication and fun. 

The bottom line is, being in the professional beauty world shouldn’t hurt your mind and body. Quite the opposite: By refocusing your time and efforts—and incorporating your own needs and wellness into your lifestyle—you’ll be better at your craft.

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