Out of an estimated 36,000 hairdressers in the UK, only around 6,000 are currently registered with the state. That means that over 80% of hairdressers currently operating are unregulated – potentially without qualifications, training or experience.
The Hairdressing (Registration) Act 1964 gives hairdressers the option to prove their qualifications by registering with the government. But it is just an option.
And hairdressing techniques have come a long way since the '60s: modern chemicals and equipment can all pose serious risks to the public. Professional hairdressers have been campaigning for the government to require registration for their industry for years – it was even debated by members of Parliament as recently as January 2015. But how would legislation be beneficial for UK salons?
Under the current rules, almost anyone can set themselves up as a practising hairdresser without any need for qualifications or experience. That means that new customers have little impartial advice to go on when it comes to deciding if your salon is a safe choice with experienced staff. Registering with the British Hairdressing Council does require certain professional qualifications, but registration is currently only voluntary.
If the calls for industry regulation were answered, customers could have the confidence that they're choosing a reputable salon. And it could give your salon an official standard to prove your worth to clients and suppliers.
Registering with the British Hairdressing Council isn't just a government-backed certificate. It also gives you access to free advice, the right to apply for a Master Craftsman Diploma, and the chance to be found by serious customers using the Council’s online hairdresser finder. Perhaps most importantly, it's an official recognition of your professionalism, your talent and your experience that you can display to the public and your competitors.
If you're a salon owner who knows your stuff, you're already aware of the importance of using fully-qualified staff and having the right employer's liability and public liability insurance in case of an injury to an employee or a member of the public as a result of your business activities.
‘Bad hairdressers will quickly get a bad reputation and go out of business,’ said Conservative MP Richard Fuller . But a move to requiring registration would mean fewer bad hairdressers out there to begin with, protecting the public before the damage is done.