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As the sharing economy continues to develop, homes, travel and now beauty services are a mere download and tap away. The Haute Heel team has been reviewing the boom in at-home salon experiences, which lure in customers with its promise of convenience of never having to leave your house. Particularly tempting with the erratic weather and virus scare we’re experiencing right now. That’s right, we said it. This week, Zaya secret-shops beauty app Prettly has most of the beauty treatments you can think of. From massages (£70 onward) to blow dries (£40) and vitamin infusions (£190), while lesser known than the likes of Blow Ltd and Ruuby, it puts up quite a wide offering. Also, unlike its competitors, the platform features a party section with makeup for adults starting at £55 and wait for it – two hour face painting sessions (£65). With many of these apps catering to those with strict office hours and mums alike, this one was sure worth the secret-shop with its options for kids.
I have my nails done every two or three weeks at Splash near Goodge Street tube station and book through Treatwell to get that off-peak £28 appointment. A gel manicure on Prettly will set you back £30.40 as a first time user, then £38 following that.
There were a couple of hitches from the onset. My beautician called me five minutes before she was meant to arrive asking for my address, even though I had already provided specific instructions while I made the booking. Compared to the other apps out there (and there are numerous), I was surprised that I had to provide my own towel to use as a mat. However, I can’t fault the treatment itself. The manicure was perfect and the nail technician invited me to examine my nails following each step.
While the app functions well and has an impressive range of services, I feel there’s a lack of attention to detail that makes it look unfinished. Aside from aesthetics, the layout of the app is easy to understand, taking the user from treatment to available date to professional and time. I especially liked seeing ‘punctuality %’, which is a feature unique to Prettly. Outside of a salon, punctuality takes on a role nearly as important as the quality of the treatment itself, which we saw in our secret-shop of rival app Secret Spa. As for appointment follow up, I received a confirmation email and two text reminders ahead of the appointment.
Would you book again?
I would not – the biggest issue I had was the blurred distinction between client and merchant. If you think about it, regular salon etiquette is not applicable in your home. As a first time user, I felt uncomfortable. I wondered if it was fine to ask my manicurist to take off her shoes or if I should offer tea or coffee. I imagine the awkwardness can be easily overcome by booking the same professional over and over again, which is an available feature on the app. But living so centrally in London, it’s easier for me to walk to my local salon and feel looked after.
What does the therapist say?
My manicurist told me she had been working part time with Prettly for the past year. The rest of her time she works as a makeup artist. She says she’s happy to operate her own business and for this platform to connect her to clients and manage her marketing, in exchange for the commission.
Words by Zaya Gundalai
Here’s an app The Haute Team would use again, read our secret-shop review of Urban