Do journalists have a responsibility to support the industry they cover? If you are an investigative hack reporting on the dangers of the diamond mines, or a finance correspondent with insider knowledge on banking corruption, then absolutely not.
But the beauty industry? Well, our relationship feels more collaborative. I have known salon owners and product creators for decades. I am, for the most part, fans of them and their brands and businesses. I will call out inflated prices or ineffective formulas, but my go to stance is one of support.
Last week, I was chatting to a salon owner about the hit they have taken due to lockdown. Not only did they miss out on all the business when salons were closed, but when they could finally open some customers were a) still too nervous to come in or b) were going off on holiday. Takings are 40% down.
She expressed dismay at all the journalists talking about dying their own hair with at home colourants and reporting it in the press/on their social media. She felt that they were being unsupportive, and that they would soon be coming into the salon for a fix up job,
I felt conflicted. I have benefited from many salon visits over the years and know that the colour done by a pro and one done in your own bathroom is incomparable. I also know that, as a journalist, you have to respond to the mood of your readers, gauge what they want right now, capture the zeitgeist.
But our chat made me reflect on how we mustn’t take the power of our words too lightly, or dismiss the talent and knowledge of beauty-industry professionals. Yes, you can dye your own hair, tint your own lashes and give yourself an at home facial, but it’s not the same as going to an expert. There’s a place for both.
Our chat did remind me, though, not to be flippant about what approach I recommend. Especially when there are jobs at stake.