A neighbourhood health service in Hartford, Connecticut recently teamed up with a church pastor and a local barber to offer people experiencing homelessness free haircuts and health screenings. The ‘No Hair Left Behind’ event aimed to forge relationships with those often left on the outer edge of society.
Reading about the event, most people will immediately understand the rationale behind the health screenings and provision of food. The haircuts, on the other hand, may puzzle a few. Haircuts? Is that really what the homeless need? The answer to that is an emphatic ‘yes’. That’s because there is a strong link between personal grooming and our sense of well-being. Read on to learn more!
They say you only truly appreciate the value of something when it’s taken away from you. Undoubtedly, that was the case with hair salons during the pandemic lockdown. Deprived of their regular appointments, people were surprised at just how much they missed that contact. A large part of that was due to the social interaction that a salon provides. Customers lost touch with stylists who were always there to chat and share confidences.
Stylists, too, felt the loss. One London stylist put it like this: “I always have a good gossip when I see my clients in the salon, and to be honest I don’t really feel that it’s appropriate to refer to them as clients, I see them as, well, more of a familiar acquaintance and I think that relationship can be rather quite special.”
Hair and Self-Confidence
This social interaction that a salon provides is good for our mental health; not for nothing did communications giant BT base a very successful advertising campaign in the 1990s on the psychology encapsulated in the slogan ‘It’s good to talk.’ When it comes to hair and mental health, however, there is more going on than just the benefit of a good chat.
All of us know, instinctively, that when we feel confident about our appearance, we feel better about ourselves. Our self-confidence grows and we feel more able to face the challenges that daily life throws at us. Our gut feeling may also tell us that, when it comes to our appearance, the condition of our hair is crucial.
Gut feelings are one thing, but is there any science to back this up? For the second time in this article, the answer is an emphatic ‘yes’! Studies have shown that how we perceive our attractiveness has a massive impact on how we feel and how we behave. They also tell us that our hair is often what people remember about us after just one meeting.
Every coin has two sides, of course, and the flip side of feeling good about our hair and ourselves is the misery of bad hair days. All of us experience those. They can occur because you’ve had an unsuitable cut, because you’ve left it too long since your last cut, or for a host of other reasons. Usually, bad hair days can be banished with a visit to the salon or a minor change to your haircare routine.
The real problems only start if bad hair days stretch out and become bad hair weeks or months. If the condition of your hair deteriorates on a long-term basis, then this can seriously impact your mental health. This happens with hair thinning or hair loss, to cite just two examples. People whose hair is an important part of their identity (and that includes most of us) can be plunged into serious unhappiness and even depression by the poor condition of their hair.
Those experiencing homelessness may not be suffering hair loss, but they are often confronted by circumstances that make haircare and personal grooming difficult, if not impossible. That kind of situation mimics the long-term effects of hair loss, in that it turns a temporary problem into a permanent situation affecting their mental health. Faced with so many other issues that attack their self-esteem, it’s another problem that homeless people just don’t need.
Miguel Delvalle is the barber who offered his services free of charge to the ‘No Hair Left Behind’ project. As someone who experienced homelessness as a young man, he knows what taking care of basic needs like haircare can do for a person’s self-esteem. “Often people feel lost and forgotten, even by their own families. We want to let them know we care.”
Haircare is often dismissed as a vanity project. Those expressing concern about their hair loss and thinning are often simply told to accept it, as if it’s no big deal. The truth is that our hair matters. When it looks good, we feel great. When it doesn’t, we may experience unhappiness and depression. That really is a big deal.
If you are worried about hair loss or thinning, Vinci Hair Clinic is here to help. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experts to all our new clients. We have clinics worldwide, so all you need to do is get in touch and make the appointment!