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Is the person cutting your hair qualified?

Hair cut

Every day thousands of us have our hair cut by a hairdresser or barber. But have you ever asked whether they have the professional qualifications to do so? Sally from the Hair Council argues there needs to be regulation.

Even though they handle specialist equipment and chemicals, the person who cuts, colours or blow-dries your hair does not need any qualifications to do so.

What’s more, there’s no formal mechanism to make a complaint about a hairdresser, which means accidents and incidences of poor service often go unreported.

Fortunately, the vast majority of hairdressers and barbers in the UK possess the skills and training to undertake these tasks professionally. However, there’s nothing to stop someone without the training and skills setting up a hairdressing salon or barber shop.

Regulating hairdressers

It seems crazy to me that the likes of dental hygienists, chiropractors, podiatrists, taxi drivers and plumbers must be regulated to protect the public, yet hairdressers and barbers can operate without regulation. I believe it’s high time that changed.

I work in the Hair Council and we’re leading a campaign across the UK to regulate the industry and to support and recognise the contribution made by those hairdressers and barbers that have trained and obtained their qualifications.

The hair industry contributes £6.2bn a year to the economy and employs around 250,000 people across 55,000 businesses. Hairdressers and barbers are the backbone of our high streets and they deserve recognition for the professional services they provide and their economic contribution in local areas.

Is your hairdresser qualified?

I think all hairdressers and barbers operating in salons should be qualified to do so and registered, so that you’re better protected if something goes wrong. This will drive out cowboys, drive up standards, and ultimately protect us all.

Do you know if your hairdresser or barber is qualified? Have you ever had a bad experience with a hairdresser? Do you support regulation?

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from the CEO of the Hair Council, Sally Styles. All opinions expressed here are Sally’s own, not necessarily those of Which?


For the possible benefit of Vanessa, Sally Styles (surely that must be her nom de plume?) and others, the Health and Safety at Work act already applies to all businesses involved in hairdressing.

So, anyone expecting to charge for their services will have legal obligations to safeguard the health and safety of their customers and the wider public.

In a lot of small businesses, it is customary for qualified staff to display their competency certificates within the premises. If this is done, then customers can make informed choices.

After experiencing a number of hairdressing disasters I finally decided to cut my own hair, and still do today. I am also allergic to most commercial shampoos and conditioners and so now use a natural olive oil liquid soap which I buy online and apple cider vinigar as a conditioner.

I do have certain reservations about the cleanliness of the implements used in hair salons and barbers shops and the potential to spread infection, and also the prices they now charge, but with the increase in demand for hair colourants and chemicals contained therein, I do think there is a need for an official qualification or regulation to practice hairdressing.

I would imagine with the continuing increase in competition on the high street, most hairdressers today are, to some extent, reliant upon pleasing their clients to ensure a return visit.

PS Good to see you back again Alfa. Has anyone seen Bishbut lately?

Thanks Beryl.

Probably 20 years ago now, I went to a local hairdresser who made a song and dance trimming my long hair and charged me £40 for the privilege. I have cut my own ever since. Hubby finds it very uncomfortable at the barber with his bad back, so I cut his too.

I also have a problem with shampoos and conditioners and use a spray conditioner to detangle after washing. What liquid soap do you use?

alfa, I expect the entertainment was all included in your experience package. Did your hairdresser come from Seville, by any chance?

I use Dr Bronners Pure-Castile Soap with tea tree oil which I buy online. It’s highly concentrated so lasts a long time. It’s made up of various organic oils and claims up to 18 different uses, but I still remain very sceptical about its ability to cleanse all three body, mind and spirit, but it certainly seems to do a good job on my hair!

My daughter-in-law always cuts my sons hair, saving a small fortune in the process.

Thank you Beryl, I might give it a try when my current shampoos are running low.