Beauty clinics do brisk business despite Covid
Growing up was not easy for Sahara Sharma. Acne and pimples marred her self-confidence as a teenager. She obediently followed all the beauty tips that came her way, but flawless skin would have to wait as she evolved from a teenager into a woman.
Now in her 30s, Sahara no longer has pimple issues, but she often spends her time at skin clinics for other treatments — hair removal, lash extension and even consultation for pigmentations. The growth of high-tech skin clinics in Kathmandu, has become a boon for many like her.
“If I was exposed to such trends in my teenage days, I would have looked different. I can opt for better treatments now,” says Sahara.
With 61.5% of Nepalis having access to smartphones, the exposure to international beauty trends is wider than ever. Following in the footsteps of celebrities on social media and using Snapchat filters that allow for unrealistic beauty goals, there is more room for validation of vanity.
Despite the economic impact of the pandemic, it has been a busy time for skin clinics in Nepal offering botox, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, hair removal, dimple creation, breast reduction, lift brow, lipo suction, lip fillers, vaginoplasty and double eyelid surgery.
Rupak Ghimire’s Darbar Marg-based, Aavaran Skin and Hair Clinic is swamped with clients waiting for their turn for consultations. Dermatologist and hair transplant expert, Ghimire sees more than 30 clients a month for follicular grafts alone.
Initially, people dismissed hair transplants as bizarre and his attempts to promote the procedure failed miserably. Four years later, Ghimire has a new story, “Clients during their first consultations usually come looking dejected and sceptical about side-effects but by the end of months of sessions, they turn into new people, and not just physically.”
While discourse rages on body shaming and the relevance of cosmetic surgeries, there are those who continue spending money on beautification.
“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Our job is to make clients look natural and that is an art in itself. Making changes in your physical appearance is a personal choice,” explains Swopnil Sharma of the Skin Arts Aesthetics in New Baneswar who says people mainly ask about botox treatment, hair removal, and Asian eyelid surgery.
However, following a new medical law, skin clinics can now only offer botox treatment for frown and wrinkle liftment. The treatment is only allowed on the upper part of the face, as use of such treatment in the lower part can damage a person’s face and the nervous system.
“It’s a risk. We have to lay everything transparent on the table prior to providing treatment to our clients and that’s the best way to go forward with such high-skilled technique,” says Swopnil.
There are other caveats to beautification. It comes with a price tag, and patience. These services are not inexpensive and the beautification does not work at the wave of a magical wand. Some treatments may take months of sessions and others years.
The most common beauty trends in Nepal even during the pandemic are hair removal, acne treatment, hair transplants and tummy tucking. The price range per session depends on the nature of treatment, and could begin from Rs2,000 and range up to Rs100,000.
What pleasantly surprises beauty experts is that Nepal has a market for such cosmetic trends. They say it encourages them to dedicate themselves to introduce sound and safe treatments to potential clients. And the Covid-19 fears are not keeping them away, in fact business is booming.
Ghimire initially tried to warn clients about visits, given the pandemic and the financial uncertainties. He also tried to convince them to hold off treatments such as botox, but more clients queued-up at his clinic, instead.
Swopnil’s marketing strategy via TikTok has attracted more clients. “Since everyone is at home, we share videos on the treatments and procedures done in our clinic and via TikTok. People have been booking time for appointments, which has turned out to be a success for us,” she says.
At Mero Skin Care in Lazimpat, services are different from those available at other clinics. Pramila Rai helps ensure women can flutter their eyelids with more coquetry with a lash lift and extensions, and raises their brows through microblading.
“The pressure of looking good has become so great. The number of clients always peaks during wedding seasons,” says Rai.
South Korea has the world's highest number of cosmetic surgeries done every year. An ardent fan of South Korean beauty and entertainment trends, Shristi Shakya says watching the hit K-drama series My ID is Gangnam Beauty about a girl who performs plastic surgery to remain relevant in her society has opened her eyes to the pros and cons of going under the knife.
However, Shakya admits that if given the opportunity, she would love to tweak a thing or two. “Maybe, a little bit of eyelid surgery would do no harm,” she says.
Makeup artist, Ashlesha Rana did a few sessions of laser hair removal treatment but had to stop due to Covid-19. She plans to complete the sessions once normalcy has returned.
“Frankly, I don’t like to experiment much. It is very important to do your research before you decide on trying any of these trends and more important to know where to stop,” she admits.
“The idea of beauty is always shifting.”