There is no doubting that the beauty industry is huge. Every town has at least one salon or spa, along with a host of home salons and mobile therapists. With so many businesses there must be even more clients hunting out treatments. So, should a trade this big be regulated?
The short answer to this is yes. Any industry which is so hands-on with members of the public needs to be monitored and controlled. However, it just isn’t that simple.
Ideally the first crack down should be on training. Standards of training need to be put a place with minimum qualifications being made compulsory before a therapist is let loose on the public. This not only means checking the qualifications of every therapist in the country, but also assessing the quality of training available in the thousands of private training schools and suppliers. This is just a snippet of what a mammoth task it would be.
For a start, how would all these therapists be tracked down? A high street salon is fairly obvious, but home and mobile businesses are not so visible and could be easily overlooked. Voluntary registers have been tried but will never be a success as the therapists who do not believe they need the same standards as everyone else will simply not sign up.
Beauty and nails can be big business, but they also be hobby professions for many. New mums and those dissatisfied by their day jobs may offer a few treatments in their spare time for a little extra pocket money, but would be wiped out by the expense of regulated training.
Bringing in regulation for an industry of this size is an expense that government simply cannot address at this time. The man-hours and organisation for this are unthinkable when many treatments are relatively safe.
If regulation is to happen, the trade and governing bodies of the industry need to come together to offer a lot of the work that is needed. However, most of these bodies are competitors with different aims and views on the industry, making it difficult to ever unite them.
For now, the government should focus on those salons offering more harmful treatments such as lasers. There has been such regulation through the Healthcare Commission but this was brought to an end by the Labour government. To address the rest of the salons in the industry, local councils need to be involved in enforcing basic health and safety concerns to ensure that at the very least, salons are clean, safe and hygienic.