A first impression is not just for the first time you meet a client. Every day and every time you meet your client, or whoever is around you, you give a first impression for the day or for that session. Have you ever noticed that when you dress stylishly, everyone around you notices and reacts? Even inside, you feel and act more confident. This is just the power of dress wear and the impression you can make.
Do we really need to wear uniforms?
Uniforms distinguish you from the rest of society and communicate who you are to observers before you even open your mouth. The design and cleanliness of a uniform tells your clients a lot about your personality. Imagine you go into a salon and the beauty professional’s uniform is dirty, stained, ill-fitting, or consists of regular street clothes. Now compare that situation with a salon in which everybody has clean-cut, ironed uniforms that match their salon’s theme. It’s obvious who is more impressive!
What color should our uniforms be?
The color of your uniform depends on the service you provide and the clients’ expectation. It also depends on the color scheme of your salon. For instance, if you are a massage therapist and, as part of your service, your clients need to be relaxed, then you need to choose colors that reflect relaxation, both in your salon’s color scheme and in your uniform.
You can look around and customize the color scheme of another successful business or salon. They probably spent large amounts of money and had many trials and errors to come up with that specific color or color pattern. For example, an airplane designer wanted the interior of their plane to be relaxing, or the owner of a casino wanted its interior to be vivid and energizing. They picked their colors for a reason, so use them as inspiration.
What style should we choose?
The style of your uniform all depends on the personality you like to portray and how you would like to be evaluated by clients. In our culture, we are accustomed to seeing professionals dress in simple styles—you don’t have to “re-invent the wheel.”
There are tons of uniform manufacturing companies that sell simple, yet stylish, uniforms that you can simply choose from. Don’t always look for the cheapest option, as it may be an outdated design or discontinued product. Make sure to buy from a manufacturer that can provide the same color and style two years down the road, or you may be in trouble if you need an extra one.
What if my uniform doesn’t fit quite right, or the material is uncomfortable?
Your uniform should be comfortable as you are going to live in it several hours a day. Specifically, your shoes have to be very comfortable, and preferably medical-grade. Most tasks in the beauty business are done from a standing position or sitting on a stool for an extended number of hours. Those positions are not comfortable on their own; don’t make it even worse with an uncomfortable uniform or pair of shoes.
Your uniform should be long and flexible enough to allow room for movement in your work area. Some beauty professionals choose short skirts or a uniform that exposes too much of their skin. It may look sexy, but it may hardly help your business or may attract the wrong crowd of people into your business. Very sexy uniforms are overall distracting both for you as a beauty professional and for your clients, male and female.
What else should be included in the uniform?
The salon and company logo is a necessary part of your uniform. The name of your business should be visible at all times. It is both a self-reminder and a reminder to your clients of who you are and what makes you different. The more people are familiar with your business’s name, the more they remember and help keep you in business. That is why big companies like McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and BMW keep reminding us of their presence with the repetition of their logo.
Your name tag is also very necessary because it helps people remember your name in case they forget or don’t know. It happens to all of us, being told a name at the beginning of a conversation or service and having forgotten it by the middle or the end of the exchange.
The color and font of your name tag should be large enough to be easily read. Refrain from using fancy, convoluted, or cursive fonts. The position of the name tag is generally on the right side of the shirt or uniform. This is because, when we shake hands (usually with our right hands), our eyes follow a line from the handshake to the name tag.
Head-to-toe Uniform Items
Some beauty professionals layer an overcoat, smock, or lab coat on top of their regular clothing. For sure, it is much better than nothing, but it is not enough. People, including clients, judge us based on all our clothing items, including our shoes. If possible, choose a head-to-toe uniform that includes everything from an outer layer to shoes.
If for any reason you cannot push your team to wear the same uniform, at least have them follow the color scheme of the salon. For example, they can have any brand of shoes, provided they are black or white or whatever the color scheme of the salon.
Jewelry is another part of dress wear that should follow similar rules: simple, not distracting, and not too shiny or dangly, as it may interfere with your job as a beauty professional.
What else is important to remember about uniforms?
Wrinkle-free clothes give a strong sense of style and cleanliness, as well as a sense of professionalism. A clean-cut, ironed uniform conveys a message and feeling that casual clothing never will. When you are choosing your uniform, make sure it is made of a type of fabric that you can iron, and then ensure that you iron your uniform before you get to the salon.
You need more than one uniform set, as you need to wash your uniform consistently. At least three sets of uniforms is a reasonable number; in case something drastic happens, you will still have at least one that is good and ready-to-go.
Personal hygiene, including having fresh breath, is not part of the uniform per se, but because of its tremendous effect on beauty businesses, we will discuss it here.
Unfortunately, bad breath is a big problem in many businesses, especially in the beauty industry. Little can hurt your business as much as having bad breath and offending your client. It can become a problem because, when our breath smells bad, we don’t always know it—but others sure do!
Imagine you are getting a haircut, and the stylist forgot to eat breakfast or brush her teeth, and her breath smells bad. You have to tolerate her for a good 30 minutes or so. Every one of us has had a bad experience due to a person having bad breath. As part of my previous businesses, it was mandatory for all employees to have breakfast before coming to work so as not to be hungry during business hours. Empty stomach smell is very bad, no matter how many times you brush your teeth.
Decayed teeth and gum diseases, smoking, and eating foods like garlic and onions are another source of bad breath. Follow the 30-days challenge, and make it a habit for everybody on your team to follow good hygiene practices.
Perfume is another challenging subject in all businesses where employees have close contact with clients. About 1.7% to 4.1% of the population have some kind of allergy or intolerance to perfume. The reaction could be from a simple headache to a migraine or even a severe allergic reaction.
Therefore, it is not a good idea to wear strong perfumes in the service beauty business. You will get used to your perfume after a few minutes and will not sense it at all, but people around you, especially your clients, will sense it, and if they have an allergy, their whole day will go downhill.
Uniforms as Protective Gear
Well-designed and professional uniforms can protect you from hazardous or dirty and dusty materials in the workplace. As a beauty professional, hair stylist, esthetician, or other, you should be very careful not to bring home any hair or dirt from your work area.
In almost all beauty service businesses, the clients use a gown, towel, or other kind of covering while they get a service. These clients’ coverings can be used as a great marketing and client satisfaction tool.
Use the best and most impressive gowns with your logo on it, and make sure it is super clean, possibly putting them in separate bags for each usage. If you can choose a design that matches your own uniform or your salon design, it would be even better. By choosing your clients’ coverings in the same style as your salon, you send the message to your client that she belongs and is treated as one of yours.
In most beauty businesses, we can predict what clients need for a service. For instance, for a facial, you may need six towels, a linen, and a gown. You put all of these in a nice package and open it in front of the client so they can see you are using a special package just for them. Another example is a haircut: you can make a package for each client that contains scissors, combs, a haircut gown, and whatever else is needed. It may look expensive, but that alone can make a huge difference in the mind of your client, and in the end, you will realize that it was worth it.
Seasonal or Special Event Uniforms
It is a good idea to celebrate changes in seasons or events with something on your uniform. For example, you may add a little flower in the spring or a small U.S. flag on the 4th of July. This little sign gets attention and sends the message of the values you share with others.
It is not a good idea, however, to put on political, religious, racial, or any other controversial symbols. For us as beauty professionals, all people are equal, even if we do not share the same political or religious beliefs.
Do I still need to wear a uniform if I am the only one who is working in the salon?
If you are the only one working in your own salon or booth, having a uniform still makes a big difference. It’s even more influential to your clients if you insist on wearing a uniform when you are the only one working in your own salon. In that case, your clients compare you with a host of other salons and beauty professionals who don’t look professional in their casual clothes.
Your uniform not only portrays your professionalism, but also you can consider it a part of your salon’s décor. People are looking at you much more than all those other things in your salon or booth.