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London’s Culture Of Beauty Technology Today

After reading about the roughly two million Londoners living in parts of the city that have dangerously high—not to mention illegal—levels of air pollution, I recalled a woman in a London hair salon who turned to me one day and exclaimed, “Getting my hair and nails done is the only way I can cope with the economic and ecological disaster out there.” Since hearing this, I have wondered if cosmetic treatments are how many Londoners react to the toxicity of their environment and the economic downturn.

With Brexit weighing upon the nation and the bulk of the country’s economic capital based in London, it is unsurprising that London’s beauty culture is a major center for both economic growth (£6.2 billion nationally) and body therapy. Of the country’s 35 thousand plus hair salons, over 13.4% of them are in London. This above figure doesn’t even include the country’s 13,107 beauty salons and 1,512 nail bars in addition to the hundreds of cosmetic medical clinics and esthetic dental services.

I spoke with Shaz Memon, a dental marketing expert based in London, who elaborates how the marketing of esthetics clinics and the increase of botox training courses is just part of the city’s changing cultural panorama. He states, “It used to be that Londoners defined themselves through their professional and personal lives alone. Today, it is more the case that we also define ourselves through an awareness of health and beauty which is integral to our cultural identity and communities.” Walking around London there is no shortage of nail salons and hairdressers with many specifically tailored to men. Along with the boom of aesthetic dental clinics in London and Weybridge, a suburban town within Greater London, the beauty industry is not showing any signs of the economic slowdown in Britain’s capital. Compared to what other industries have suffered in recent years, it is clear that the pervasive use of esthetic technologies by Londoners is part of a larger story about how the beauty industry is hooking into local cultural dialogues and social networks.

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