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Helper's High: The Benefits of Giving Back

Lauren Salapatek | May 3, 2017 | 1:46 PM

After long days of serving others and making them feel good about themselves, beauty professionals don’t stop giving even on their days off. Salon pros generously donate their time and professional skills to all sorts of causes throughout the year. This selfless tradition ironically nourishes the self.

“Our work can be even more appreciated when it’s not being paid for,” says Sabrina Marie, owner of Salon Sapphire by Sabrina Marie in Johnston, Rhode Island. “Our hands are our tools, and it’s nice to use them to give back.”

Salon industry consultant Amy Carter agrees.

“The process of doing good lights you up,” says Carter, owner of Solaris Salon in Evansville, Indiana, and director of finances and business operations at Empowering You Consulting and Training. “It’s most effective when the chosen charitable activity aligns with your business’s mission.”

Kim Hansen, an independent stylist in Pasadena, California, adds that reaching out together as a team creates unity. 

“Community—common unity—is so important,” she says. “Giving is a valuable part of our lives and helps to create that common unity.” Canadian hair designer Belinda Fries involves her clients in her charitable efforts. 

“Cancer and dogs are the causes closest to me,” says Fries, who co-owns a bridal hair and makeup business in Penticton, British Columbia. “When we do brides, we might see them only once, but we are still planning to in-corporate giving into their experience. We might simply raise prices and post that some of the money will go to a dog rescue. At the appointment, we’ll hand the bride a card that thanks her for her donation.”

For more than 20 years, psychologists have explored the physical and mental health gains derived from doing charitable acts. Coined “helper’s high” by volunteerism expert Allan Luks in his early 1990s book, The Healing Power of Doing Good, the phenomenon rewards the giver with multiple health benefits. According to Psychology Today, they include:

  • Endorphins. The good deed produces positive energy that can act similarly to exercise in releasing endorphins that make you feel good naturally. That’s the initial rush that triggers the helper’s high.
  • Satisfaction. Making a difference in someone’s life is the ultimate job-well-done.
  • Gratitude. Good deeds often help the sick or disadvantaged, which can make you feel thankful for being in a better place in your own life.
  • Distraction. When your life is not perfect, helping people changes your focus. Studies show that counselors who themselves have a medical condition often report experiencing less depression, distress and disability when they counsel others with the same ailment.
  • Physical improvement. Some re-search indicates that volunteers tend to live longer and often have better physical health than non-volunteers. More studies are being conducted to better quantify and explain this. Salons find that it’s good business. to maintain a calendar of community outreach. Clients appreciate the effort, and it establishes valuable connections within the local community. But even on their own, salon professionals reach out because that’s just who they are. “I can’t give a million dollars, but to help other people I will cut hair until my fingers fall off,” Marie says.

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