Having loyal clients is the first indication that you are good at your craft, but it is also an indication of how much they trust you with how they appear to the world. In a society where how you look is of utmost importance, trusting someone with your hair, nails or skin is a big decision. Often the trust that is built around your hair, nails or skin becomes a trusting relationship around other areas of significance such as relationships, careers and even deeper issues. It may at times feel as though you have transcended being a stylist into being a financial advisor, therapist, lawyer or nurse. Having these discussions may feel overwhelming because the issues are of such significance and in today’s environment of trust and mistrust, you may be the only person a client talks to about these concerns. In particular, when the conversation is around health, the pressure to be accurate is very high and giving the wrong advice could be life altering.
With the advent of the internet, we have all started to reference “Dr. Google” as a means to get health related information, but often that information is unchecked and incorrect. On topics such as “healthy weight”, that would seemingly have only one answer, you can scroll all day and find a boggling array of answers from sites that seem to be valid. It can be so confusing to look up health information that many times we give up or look for the answer that we want and quit looking. When discussing health concerns, symptoms or preventative health it is important to have accurate information and access to resources. With this in mind, we (BARBICIDE) are launching the Be Healthy Initiative that certifies Community Health Ambassadors in the professional beauty industry. The program is designed to certify stylists, barbers, nail techs and estheticians as being educated on basic health information that can impact not only the beauty professional, but also their clients and the broader community. With COVID, we saw the rumor mill deliver inconsistent, incorrect and dangerous information. This program is designed to give the correct information that can be useful in making decisions about when to see a healthcare professional for everything from preventative screenings to potentially life threatening illness. Anytime we can use our powerful relationship of trust armed with accurate information we have the opportunity to influence the health of our community.
This short program can be completed online (www.barbicide.com) or in person at popular trade shows designed for stylists and barbers. By becoming a Community Health Ambassador, you will learn basics about what constitutes health, preventative healthcare and some of the most common dangerous disease processes in America – diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. This initial program will be followed up with a video series by prominent people in this industry discussing health issues they are passionate about in their own lives. For example, Roderick Samuels will be doing a short video on colo/rectal screening that will give the real information on these important tests and who needs to have this screening. We will continue to update the materials available from videos to infographics appropriate for posting or offering to clients. We are not asking you to become a replacement for healthcare professionals, but simply to become a liaison that can encourage someone or maybe yourself to participate in healthy behaviors and seek health care when necessary.
In the initial training, you will get information about what constitutes “health”… what is a healthy blood pressure, or pulse for example. While any of these numbers alone are not necessarily indicative of health or illness, in combination, abnormal numbers may indicate the need to seek a health assessment. You will also learn about some of the most common diseases in the U.S. that are responsible for hospitalizations and death. These illnesses are also what we often refer to as “underlying conditions” that complicate illnesses like COVID and put people at a greater risk of complications and even death. High blood pressure (hypertension), high blood sugar (diabetes) and asthma all have unique causes and symptoms that are outlined in this training. If even one person seeks medical treatment for one of these diseases by better understanding the disease and the symptoms, then this program has met its goal. Finally, we discuss preventative healthcare – those behaviors that are most likely to keep us healthy physically and emotionally.
We hope that this program can impact the health of beauty professionals, their clients and the communities where they are so valued and trusted.