Debate: are silent treatments in salon a good idea?

With more beauty salons launching silent appointments to help clients with their mental health, we explore whether the quiet treatment concept is here to stay.

Have you heard? Beauty salons up and down the country are now giving clients the silent treatment, but it’s not quite what you think. The quiet time concept – where clients can choose to have a “silent treatment” in salon or spa (after consultation) if they prefer – is gaining traction in the market, with more beauty businesses offering this service than ever before.

But why is it trending now? The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s mental health, and the consequences of that are continuing to be felt. One in 10 Brits are struggling to cope with life challenges due to Covid-19, found data by not-for-profit website My Pickle, while Google searches for “self-care” are up 250% since the first lockdown, discovered a report by natural health remedies retailer The Drug Store.

As such, returning to a busy salon with the “pressure” to make small talk with someone they don’t know could seem overwhelming for some people as they try to get back to normal life. This silent treatment concept recognises that and gives the control back to the client – they decide if they do or don’t talk. “The third lockdown was really tough. People are still not used to going out as much, they probably won’t have as much to talk about when in salon and some just won’t want to express how the pandemic has been for them,” explains Xhanan Goleshi, owner of mobile beauty business Go Star, which offers the service.

“This option makes it obvious to the professional whether the client wants to engage in conversation or not.” This movement has also highlighted that the beauty industry is much more attuned to the issues surrounding mental health. “To think that we can go from lockdown to how we were before the pandemic just isn’t rational thinking,” says Rosie Fraser, who offers the service in her salon That Rosie Glow in Edinburgh.

“The responsible attitude to take is to do small steps to help clients come back in a way that they feel comfortable, and this concept makes it inclusive to everybody.” But how can you go about implementing the quiet time concept in your salon? We get the lowdown from three beauty pros who have been there and done it.

Case study one: Katie Godfrey, owner of KG Salon in Barton Le Clay

Katie Godfrey headshot

Although KG Salon launched its Quiet Time initiative on May 10 to tie in with Mental Health Awareness Week, the business has continued with the concept because the need was there, as Godfrey explains.

“Many clients have been suffering with mental health issues during Covid-19 and a lot of the time people think salons are busy – all hustle and bustle. Some clients just want to come in and relax. They don’t want to be asked how they are because they might be having a bad day or be busy with work and need some time out.”

The salon launched the concept via social media and email to get the word out to its client base that “we’re thinking about people’s mental health”, adds Godfrey, briefing them on what the initiative is and how they can book it. Since launching the concept, KG Salon has seen a 10% uptake of people choosing it on the phone/online, with a variety of clientele opting for it.

“We’ve had such a positive response to it. Some people assume that this silent concept only occurs during facials and massage, but it can happen during more express treatments too, such as nails and lashes. So, we got the word out there that clients can ask for quiet time during any service, and we will respect that with no questions asked,” explains Godfrey.

Case study two: Xhanan Goleshi, owner of mobile beauty business Go Star, operating in Greater London

Xhanan Goleshi headshot

Mobile beauty therapist Goleshi implemented the silent treatment concept in her business in April after engaging her client base in a conversation about whether this is something they would want. “You can’t decide how to introduce a new way of working when you don’t have much experience in it, which is why I talked to my clients first to understand them better and work out what percentage would be likely to take it up,” she says.

Goleshi ran Instagram polls on the subject and the data spoke volumes – 100% of her client base had never heard of the concept before; 87% said they would have felt reluctant to ask for a silent treatment prior to learning about what it was; and now that they know about it, 62% claimed that if the service was offered then they would be likely to request it as and when needed in the future.

“Now, when clients make a booking, they just include a plant emoji in their Instagram message if they want a silent treatment. It was the easiest way to do it because the concept is still quite new and I think people would feel reluctant to write, ‘can I have a silent treatment please’,” explains Goleshi. “Also, plants promote wellbeing, so the emoji fits in well with that theme of tranquillity and relaxation.”

So far, Goleshi has had a 10% request rate for quiet time appointments. “I enjoy conversing with clients and I’m happy to speak to anybody who would like to talk about their experiences, but it’s been quite a difficult time for some people, so even if just one person requests it then it makes it worthwhile having the quiet time service,” she says.

Case study three: Rosie Fraser, owner of That Rosie Glow in Edinburgh

Rosie Fraser Headshot

Fraser launched the silent treatment concept in her salon in April after an Instagram poll of her clients revealed that 60% would like this option. “We were looking at how we could help address people’s anxiety about coming back into the salon environment,” she says.

“We had an overwhelming response from clients saying they would personally love this option and it was a response from people of all backgrounds, ages and genders. For some people, it was even to do with sensory issues. For example, if they are slightly deaf then they can’t lip read when the therapist is wearing a mask, and this could make conversation just a bit too much for them.”

The salon has made the process as hassle-free as possible to “take the anxiety out of it”, says Fraser. The silent treatment is the first option to come up on the menu when booking online. “It says: ‘If you prefer to have your treatment without any chat, just select this alongside any treatment you book, and we will know this. We will still carry out a full consultation but after that we will leave you’,” she explains.

What’s been interesting for Fraser and her team is that 50% of people who have booked in for quiet time have eventually ended up chatting during the treatment, but the client has initiated it. “They feel comfortable knowing the pressure is taken away and if they want to talk then they can. I think it just reassures people that we’re an inclusive salon,” she says.

4 tips for introducing the silent treatments into your business:

1) Gather vital data from your client base

“It’s important to research your target audience. Work with them to decide on a way to introduce the concept and then undertake any training necessary,” advises Goleshi.

2) Market the service offline too

“Have a sign on your salon reception desk explaining the concept,” suggests Godfrey. “It’s another way to get clients to realise that you do it and then you can talk to them about it if they have any queries or questions.”

3) Just trial the concept

“Until you implement it, you’re not going to know if clients want it, but it is so important as it gives people a choice,” says Godfrey. “If people take it up, then you know your clients are crying out for this silent treatment service.”

4) People will access it for different reasons

“We get young women who have asked for quiet time because they want to listen to a podcast, and busy mums who want to read a book in peace,” says Fraser. “We’ve even had some clients in who haven’t been into a salon in three years due to social anxiety.”

What's your view on the silent treatment debate? Tell us below.