Call it the Botox "Zoom boom" or post-lockdown self-care. Either way, Canberrans are rushing to be pampered after lockdown rules eased, melting the phones at Laser Clinics Australia outlets after emerging from nine weeks of shutdown.
The chain's Canberra director, Cassandra Smith, says her staff couldn't keep up with demand after taking 1449 inquiries on the day ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced a change of restrictions for the beauty industry.
That traffic has increased since retail outlets reopened to customers last week, with Ms Smith saying the demand for injectables was triple what it was at the end of the lockdown last year.
"We knew we had to do things differently this time to support the inquiries we had," Ms Smith said.
"We had staff on the week before [we opened] to make sure we were compliant and ready to go, and we had 1449 inquiries just for injectables as soon as Andrew Barr announced we could open on October 15.
"Clients are flocking back, and it's been really rewarding. We were shut down for nine weeks, and you only start your career in this industry to help others, so when people can come in again it's really rewarding.
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"I think Botox is no longer a bad word. We're calmer about how we look aesthetically and our communication is much more open. We're more aware and we're thinking more logically."
Laser Clinics Australia has outlets in Civic, Belconnen, Gungahlin, Woden and Tuggeranong. Ms Smith has been moving between the venues to meet customers ready to return.
General manager Shannon Luxford said, having been closed for 64 days, the business wase rebooking the customers who'd missed scheduled anti-wrinkle and filler appointments, as well as booking a whole heap of new customers.
"People have got a little bit of savings and they're thinking, 'Well why not treat myself? I can't get on a plane, I can't go on a holiday'," he said.
Mr Luxford said customers reported feeling dissatisfied by their appearance after weeks of seeing themselves staring back onscreen during online conference calls.
"The Zoom boom is real, and it's definitely a big influencing factor," he said.
"They're looking at themselves onscreen and they're probably thinking 'I've got this little bit of extra money. I might try it for my first time'."
Emily* was weighing up her options between a night at the pub or keeping the beauty appointment she'd made when it was announced lockdown would lift.
The 28 year-old bowed down to pressure from friends to socialise for the first time in months, managing to rebook her cheek filler appointment for earlier in the day.
"There's definitely a component of not liking the appearance of my face on Zoom calls," Emily said.
"I have naturally round cheeks, so I suppose the filler can give a bit of definition."
Saturday's procedure cost her close to $900. Since her first Botox injection about 20 months ago, she said she's spent about $2500 all up.
Emily said while the money potentially could have been better spent, the filler has increased her confidence.
Ms Smith said the biggest reward was seeing the reaction from customers when doors reopened.
"We've had to remind people about social distancing to stop them hugging us," Ms Smith said.
"Last time they were fearful, this time they're happy. We've got 55 employees and all have come back and it's exhilarating for them as well. Being away from clients was demoralising, really. Having them back is instantaneously rewarding."
Mr Luxford said trends in Australia tended to follow what was popular in the northern hemisphere.
He said the big lips made popular by Kylie Jenner were still definitely a big thing for some cohorts, but there was now an increased focus on a more natural aesthetic.
"People are certainly looking to how they can enhance their features and just give that little bit of a lift to their appearance," Mr Luxton said.
"Not everyone wants the Kylie Jenner look."
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