To further boost circulation, you can try a restorative “legs up the wall” posture at the end of your shift, Dr. Ruiz says. Lie down on your back and elevate your legs straight up in the air or up against a wall, above heart level, to get blood flowing to your lower extremities. This pose can also be relaxing, so it may help you mentally unwind after a long day of snipping and chatting too.
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5. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
If you’re shampooing and conditioning your clients’ hair in addition to blow-drying, cutting, and styling, there’s a good chance that your skin feels like sandpaper at the end of each workday. “When you get your skin wet frequently, this creates an opportunity for water to evaporate off the skin’s surface,” Angela Lamb, MD, board-certified dermatologist and director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice, tells SELF. “As this happens, the skin dries, leaving the skin barrier vulnerable.”
The winter months can intensify this desert-hands effect, because water evaporates faster when skin is exposed to cold air and dry indoor heat, Dr. Lamb says. That’s why you should keep a moisturizer handy and regularly apply it throughout the workday. Dr. Lamb recommends a hyaluronic-acid-rich formula, like Jergens Cloud Creme ($8, Target), because hyaluronic acid attracts moisture and helps retain it in the skin. (Here are some more ultrahydrating, derm-approved hand moisturizers.)
6. Set boundaries with clients when you need to.
In addition to the physical toll, caring for customers all day can also be emotionally exhausting. Hairstylists might need an occasional break from listening to all the details of their regulars’ dating app drama, say, or friend breakups. “Be mindful of how sneaky unpaid emotional labor is in the service industry. Many stylists are women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals, so it’s no surprise that the expectation of emotional labor would fall on them,” Lia Avellino, LCSW, a New York City–based therapist, tells SELF. To preserve your mental health, set verbal boundaries with clients when you need to, Avellino says.
If a client is depleting your energy, you can take a page from Hazan’s book. When she feels overextended by a client’s oversharing, she shifts the conversation back to the task at hand. “I say something along the lines of, ‘Sorry, I just have to focus on your color. I want to make it perfect for you,’” she says.
What you don’t say can also protect your peace. On days when she doesn’t have the emotional space to weigh in on her clients’ lives, Kim Kimble, celebrity hairstylist and founder of the eponymous hair studio and product line, tells SELF that she focuses on listening—without adding additional comments, advice, or reactions.
Devin Graciano, hairstylist and head of product development at Goldie Locks, tells SELF that she’s careful to not reveal too much about her personal experiences when clients are sharing theirs. “While I remain present in the conversation, I try to keep it around them and their circumstances,” she says. “Preserve your energy by simply being a sounding board, rather than inserting yourself, which can drain you.”
7. Use grounding techniques to minimize stress and anxiety.
Speaking of mental health, during your stretching, movement, and water breaks, or at the end of a long day, you can also try utilizing breath work exercises, such as box breathing to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and promote a sense of calmness.
On days when you’re feeling particularly mentally taxed by other people, Avellino also suggests trying a “containment exercise”: Picture yourself surrounded by a specific color or light that feels calming or powerful to you. Imagine that it’s protecting you from any negative energy (from a client, coworker, whomever) that you don’t want to absorb. This can create a sense of distance from whatever is stressing you out, Avellino says.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when it comes to stylist self-care: You’re worth the effort. Your ability to show up as a go-to person for both Instagram-worthy cuts and supportive life chats starts with showing up for yourself.