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By Megan Ross

During the course of the pandemic, many of us have spent more time looking at ourselves than ever before. The transition to working from home has been enabled by videoconferencing tools like Zoom and nearly all our professional and social conversations are made possible by a series of video squares. While these tools have tremendous value in keeping us connected to our colleagues, friends, and family – they’ve also resulted in many hours spent gazing at our reflection, studying our expressions and overanalyzing our complexions.

“Should I change my hair colour?” “Is it time to get serious with my skincare routine?” We ask ourselves these questions as we wonder if any of those wrinkles are new and chastise ourselves about that one time we over-plucked our eyebrows that haven’t quite seemed to grow back. And we continue to fall down the rabbit hole until we’ve decided – I want to change my look. But, isn’t everything closed?

In our most recent study, we were curious about whether our inability to have beauty treatments and procedures done and the seemingly never-ending time we have spent staring at our own video feed during the pandemic have impacted demand for beauty treatments and procedures once things start to reopen.

For context, before the pandemic, a quarter of Canadians routinely or occasionally went to a salon or medical cosmetic centre to have treatments done like hair, nails, eyebrow waxing or threading, semi-permanent makeup (like nails or brows), laser treatments, and cosmetic procedures like Botox. These are more likely to be women and those aged 18-29.

But what about Canadians, who previously weren’t so interested in beauty spending? Have all these videoconference calls created a larger segment of beauty treatment-seeking Canadians?

During these video calls we spend time side-eyeing the rectangle that holds our face, confronted with watching ourselves in a way that seems almost obsessive, even if we pretend we’re not doing it. We can’t help ourselves – it’s a window into what others experience when interacting with us and psychologists have found it’s a means of coping with the overwhelming stimuli of a video call.

In our study, we found that half of those that use videoconferencing software, like Zoom, say that seeing themselves on video more frequently than before the pandemic makes them want to get beauty treatments and procedures done to improve their appearance. Even 8% of those that never had beauty treatments or procedures done before the pandemic feel this way.

With most salons and medical cosmetic centres closed across Canada on and off during the pandemic, Canadians have taken to replicating these treatments themselves at home, like other DIY projects we’ve adopted to keep ourselves busy.

 

The most common beauty treatments attempted at home during the pandemic are on the simpler end of the spectrum: hair cuts and colouring, manicures and pedicures, and facials and face masks. Those who routinely or occasionally, and even rarely, got treatments and procedures done before the pandemic are more likely to have attempted these treatments at home.

While colouring your own hair or applying a face mask at home is a nice self-care ritual, there is nothing quite like the experience of having these beauty treatments done by a professional in the relaxing setting of a beauty salon, spa, or medical cosmetic centre.

4 in 10 of routine and occasional treatment-getters say that right now they are motivated to have these treatments done in a salon or treatment centre setting because it helps to improve their mood and makes them feel their best. About 20% feel that it’s time for a change to their look and that they’d like to have treatments done more for relaxation than a specific aesthetic outcome.

Here are some other key findings:

  • 7.1 million Canadians (19%) say since the start of the pandemic they have more disposable income to spend on things like beauty treatments or procedures.
  • During the pandemic 6.8 million Canadians (18%) have spent time during the pandemic reading up on and researching various beauty treatments and procedures.
  • 6.8 million Canadians (18%) are finding themselves interested in beauty treatments and procedures they wouldn’t have considered before.
  • 7.5 million Canadians (20%) can see themselves getting more beauty procedures done once the pandemic is over compared with their pre-pandemic habits.

These findings are especially true for those that typically have beauty treatments done and usually those under 45.

It seems like those most likely to be heading to a salon post-pandemic are the ones who were already going there.

THE UPSHOT

According to Megan Ross: Overall, Canadians are looking forward to getting back to “normal” and for some, that includes having different beauty treatments and procedures done in a relaxing setting and by a practiced professional.

After months of staring at ourselves during conference calls and noticing things we may not have noticed before in the mirror, professionals in this industry can expect an increase in curiosity both by existing treatment-getters and by those who may have not been customers before, and expect spots to book up fast when they are able to open again.

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METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted with 1,900 Canadian adults from April 16 to 21, 2021. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.23%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

This poll was conducted and paid for by Abacus Data.

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