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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.

Alison Mackel says:
6 September 2020

We need this brought into affect as soon as possible with the ease of unqualified individuals having the ability to be barbers and hairdressers this causes issues for all those who spend 3 years building their skills in college.

With the modern appliances I am not sure I understand why it should take three years at college to be a shaver and haircutter. To be a competent and artistic stylist is different but that must surely start with some innate talent.

College courses cover far more than shaving and haircutting. The beauty industry is wide ranging and involves more than manual skills; there is a good deal of science, health and safety, and other related topics to learn.

I am sure there is Malcolm, but I was responding to Alison’s comment which referred to barbers and hairdressers and the time it takes for a professional to acquire all the skills whereas many practitioners of the art today have done none of that. My view is that many of them still do a good enough job.

In my recent memory I have enjoyed the attentions of hairdressers from Cyprus, Italy, Afghanistan, Turkey, Lithuania and somewhere else in eastern Europe and they have all been very good. I bet none of them did a three-year training course, however. My long-standing Italian hairdresser had been in Norwich for over fifty years before retiring last year and trained young hairdressers in his shop then supervised them until they were up to his Neapolitan standards.

Lately there has been a wave of new ‘authentic’ Turkish barbers’ saloons opening in the city and in most towns in Norfolk; very smart premises and a stylish image. The hipster generation seem to favour them to trim their beards, finesse their quiffs, and give them the full works facially. I haven’t noticed any certificates of qualification on the walls.

I appreciate that things are different for ladies’ hairdressers where the staff have to also serve coffee and lay out the magazines nicely and where the telephone is the focal point of the trade.

Of course John. 🙂 I was thinking more of having my hair washed, shaped and tinted, eyebrows plucked and lightened, unwanted facial hair removed, nails done and facial make up applied.

My cleaner is also a qualified hairdresser so gives me a straightforward trim at home when needed.