Revealed: the impact of Brexit on the beauty industry

The beauty, hair and barbering industries have long boasted year-on-year growth and are perhaps the most innovative in this country when it comes to diversification; but we are also industries noted for our fragmented nature and inconsistency, creating a lack of credibility when it matters, despite our economic contribution. 

In 2018, among other things, human trafficking and modern slavery rocketed to the top of the Government agenda. Naturally, attention turned to the nail bars and entry-level salons popping up to exploit trafficked individuals, with concern growing around the lack of accountability in our sectors. 

The current state of play 

Last year, there were two nail bar accreditation schemes proposed to tackle the issue of slavery in the sector, but both were recommended under the control of Government because politicians lack confidence in our ability as an industry to tackle this on our own. 

This point about credibility is not aimed at the individuals and professionals, but at the perception of the industries as a whole. We’re too busy operating in silos and focusing on our own businesses to consider how this contributes to external perceptions and credibility. High insurance claims, inconsistent training standards and our fragmented approach to working together are all playing their part, and we’re ultimately the ones losing out. 

2019 and the coming years are likely to be overshadowed by the challenges of post-Brexit Britain, but rather than distracting from our weaknesses, it’s likely to accelerate attention. The EU is responsible for regulation of everything, from the products we purchase to the protection of our clients – via what little regulation exists – and without EU influence, we’ll be working this out on our own. 

Industries that are already successfully self-regulating will be fine – they’ve got frameworks in place that present a ready-made solution to Government, or in some cases are already Government-endorsed. We’re not there yet and therein lies the problem.

The reality is that we could lose regulatory control of our industry, our standards and our professionals in the next five years, if we don’t prioritise self-regulation and instead end up being subject to external regulatory control, imposed upon us by Government. 

How do we get prepared?

So what can be done? It’s time to unite and drive the industry forward as a professional, credible authority. Recently, we established an alliance between Babtac and the Hair & Barber Council, bringing together 22,000 professionals to drive forward the self-regulatory agenda and represent industry at parliament. 

We plan on highlighting the sector’s values, with an independent and robust evaluation of the hair, barber and beauty industry’s contribution to the economic success of this country. Now, we’re asking you to join us. 

Lesley Blair is chair of the British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (Babtac) and the Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (Cibtac) and has been on the board since 2012. As well as running her own salon, Blair has teaching and assessor qualifications.