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Service Interrupted

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Technology. It's on every mind and in every hand. It inspired my previous blog post, and it was the topic of our eighth "Salon in the Salon" event last week. My dear client and renowned psychologist, Catherine Steiner Adair, discussed her book The Big Disconnect, in which she addressed the positive and negative effects families and children are experiencing as a result of today's plugged in lifestyle. Similarly, an article in last Sunday's New York Times described the dual role tech has taken on in our daily lives: creating stress through constant connectivity, then providing solutions.

The big question being posed in The Big Disconnect and in the Times is this: how do we find balance between tech and human connectivity? I witness my clients struggling with this question all the time. They sit in my chair and breathe a sigh of relief for the opportunity to take one hour out of their hectic day for dedicated relaxation and pampering. But all of a sudden, when that little screen lights up or a handbag rumbles with an iPhone begging to be answered, I see the internal debate as my client decides whether or not to give in to the beckoning buzz and check that new text or email. Whatever the decision, the relaxation is over.

The silliest sight to see is a client trying to keep connected at the shampoo bowl, the one spot in the salon that is most conducive to relaxation and the least friendly to electronics. It is not uncommon to see phones in hand, hovering above the bowl as a client tries to keep an eye out for a message that undoubtedly can wait five minutes to be seen. It is also quite common for calls to be taken even when the water is running right behind the ears!

Now, dear readers, I know how demanding your schedules are, and how dedicated you are to staying on top of your work and your family's needs. But when you allow your attention to be diverted in an hour that is meant to be dedicated to you, your well being is affected. You might miss out on the full benefits of a great scalp massage or fail to hear a great tip your colorist has for caring for your updated color. You might walk out of the salon looking great, but feeling less fulfilled than you used to when you were fully engaged in conversation with your stylist or fellow clients.

Most importantly -- I'll cut right to the chase -- you might not get the cut or color you expected. It is impossible for a stylist to provide the quality of service he or she strives for when you are lost in the web. If you split your attention between your stylist and your phone, you risk mis-communicating crucial details about your desired look. Save the emails for the blow dry. It's the respectful thing to do.

Finding the right balance with technology is indeed difficult. How else are you able to show your stylist pictures of your kid's ingenious Halloween costume, or recall in an instant the name of that incredible restaurant you discovered? Perhaps your next salon visit can provide the perfect opportunity to make use of your phone's "do not disturb" features. I promise, I won't tell your boss if you don't!

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