Should We Regulate The Beauty Industry?


Saturday morning saw BBC Breakfast tackle the subject of regulation in the beauty industry, albeit briefly. So what would it mean for beauty therapists and their clients?

I have long been convinced that the beauty industry should have been regulated long ago. Whilst many think it is nothing more than painting nails, the beauty industry contains treatments such as dermal fillers, intimate waxing, massage and even the dreaded teeth whitening, which all the potential to cause considerable harm. With this in mind surely there should be some form of regulation to make sure training is compulsory and up to standard, therapists are certified and monitored and treatments are delivered safely and professionally, shouldn’t there?

The answer is not necessarily straight forward.

The Training Schools

The first thing any regulator would need to address is training. For the first time, it would be law that all beauty therapists have to be trained to the same standard in every treatment they offer. This means national qualifications such as NVQ’s would need to be looked at and possibly overhauled in order to set the required standard. As many experienced therapists find that current newly qualified therapists ape sadly lacking in a lot of skills, this is something which will need serious work, from the course content to the teaching.

An even bigger issue will be the one of the vast number of private training schools. As there is nothing to ensure that any of these meet a particular standard, it is likely that their qualifications will be disregarded. Accreditation with trade associations and insurance companies will hold little weight as they all work to different requirements and are merely there to satisfy the insurance underwriters behind the company.

If a regulator decides that the private training schools that make up such a huge amount of the industry are not offering surfacing qualifications, they will be forced to join the national training scheme, therefore re-writing many of their courses.

The Beauty Therapists

If the standards of new qualifications are changed, the next thing a regulator will do is look at the qualifications currently held by many therapists. NVQ’s are likely to scrape through, but many private qualifications will be put under close scrutiny. With it being impossible to vet the standard of these qualifications, they could well be deemed unsuitable. This would force many therapists to retrain, or at least undergo refresher courses.

Once you are deemed to be sufficiently qualified, you will probably be asked to register with the governing body so that they can keep tabs on you and the public can check your credentials. I doubt very much that such a register will be free.

Due to the constantly evolving nature of the industry, there may well be checks introduced to assess the working standard of any salon.

The Suppliers

The majority of suppliers in the beauty industry are reputable and their products will have been tested and registered according to all legal requirements. That, of course, does not mean that more red tape will not be put in place by the regulators as they check that the products on offer meet with the standards of their training.

There will be many qualified, experienced and dedicated therapists that will jumps through every hoop presented to them in order to prove That they are every bit the professional. However, this is also an industry of ‘hidden’ businesses that will allow the cowboys to hide. By having a home or mobile business, you will not be immediately visible to those wanting to check on you, and by working cash in hand it is possible that authorities will never know of their existence.

Yet again, it will mean that those who are already of a good standard will do all the work and be transparent, and the less reputable will continue to escape scrutiny.

Whilst all of these measures seem sensible on paper, they will all have massive costs involved. When each therapist is forced to undergo new training, registrations and higher product costs, they are going to find themselves with a very big bill. Whilst some will decide it is no longer profitable to continue, the rest will be forced to put their prices up, driving many straight to the new ‘underground’ salons that will have sprung up.

Regulation of the beauty industry seems a brilliant idea, but in practice it is something that seems near impossible in such a huge and sprawling industry. Had this been done from the start, it would have been straight forward, but to try and overhaul an industry of this size now is only going to hurt businesses and clients.

On the issue of regulation, it may well be a case of be careful what you wish for. What do you think?


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