The Unregulated Beauty Industry

It may surprise you to learn that the UK’s beauty industry is unregulated, and many vendors offering treatments may not hold the qualifications or experience you would expect when you hand over your cash for a manicure or cosmetic_surgery.jpghair dye. At best this is frustrating, at worst it could harm your health - would you want an untrained person in charge of bleaching your hair, waxing intimate regions or, performing Botox?

Bodies such as BABTAC, the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology, have been campaigning for stricter regulation for a while now, we believe there are four options which could be considered:

 ● Government regulation, prohibiting beauty therapists from practicing unless they achieve certain criteria

● Self-regulation by the beauty industry through trade association

● Self-regulation by the industry, which would be employer driven and involve verified therapists being listed on a regulated register

● Co-regulation would see the government and beauty industry body team up to create a verification system.

The lack of current regulation, accountability and verification can spell  bad news for trustworthy beauty fans who would not think twice about using any nail bar or beauty salon , mistakenly assuming that the industry has to comply with as strict regulations as any other. 

BABTAC is a leading membership organisation for professionals working in the beauty industry. Their objective is to raise standards and educate the members of the public who are served by the industry. It was first established in 1977 by a group of dedicated professionals and is now governed by a Council of industry professionals.

As with any industry the quality of its professionals are varied but unlike the other service industries, the unregulated nature of the market means that this is variation can be more pronounced. Frequently, sometimes even several times a month, you see the true-life ‘horror’ stories of bad treatment experiences, which although minimal in reality are actually damaging a largely reputable and innovative industry.

John French, Chief Executive of the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT), said “with appropriate regulatory safeguards, beauty therapists have so much to offer the health and well-being of society. Without any regulations beauty therapists may find themselves left out in the cold”.

Eyelashes.jpgSo if the worst happens, and during a visit to a beauty salon you are left with injuries, scars, or infection, what are your options?

Firstly, it is important to remember that any decent and reputable beauty salon should have the correct public liability insurance in place to deal with a claim - many victims of poor treatments are anxious over pursuing a claim as they feel they might be ruining an independent business, but, if the right insurance is in place, the cover will pay for any compensation. It is also important to keep in mind that making a claim for compensation following negligence is a legal option that you are well within your rights to pursue - you paid in good faith for a service, and it left you injured, so by claiming you are not doing anything problematic.

There is currently no specific regulation protecting those who receive poor or negligent beauty treatments, but this doesn’t mean legal action isn’t a possibility - specialist beauty negligence solicitors, such as those at Aequitas Legal, will be able to secure a conviction using negligence laws, or if the issues stem from the use of faulty or poor quality products, product liability legislation or the sale of goods act may apply.

If a claim progresses, medical experts or doctors may be consulted to gather evidence to support a case. Depending on the specifics of the case, solicitors may call on a dermatologist if injuries are skin related, an ophthalmic surgeon if it relates to the eyes or a trichologist (hair and scalp expert) if the injury has affected the hair and scalp.

Once an accident has been recorded in the book and signed by both parties, make sure you ask for a copy. You could also take a picture of the entry on your phone as a backup. Any initial pictures that you take of your injuries, perhaps immediately after your salon visit and then more over the coming days, will be useful for the claims process.

And the most important thing if you are in a substantial amount of pain it is vital that you seek medical attention right away.

While it is difficult to fully protect yourself against negligent treatment in a beauty salon, there are a few steps you can take to try and reduce the chances of being left with injuries. At Aequitas Legal we advise people to:

  • Arrange a consultation ahead of treatment with the therapist
  • Make it clear if you have any allergies, or pre-existing conditions
  • Let the salon know if you have ever had an allergic reaction at a salon before
  • Book patch tests before any treatment that involves chemicals - hair dye, 
  • nail_salon.jpgeyebrow tint, eyelash tint etc.


If a salon is not interested in hearing about any allergies, or does not make you take a patch test before being treated with chemicals, then we would advise people to seek treatment elsewhere. The responsibility for finding out this information rests solely with the salon, and a lack of best practice could highlight other issues with its operation.