In times where recession is all we hear about on the news, it’s comforting to know that the beauty industry continues to thrive. In 2011 Olay conducted the Big British Beauty Poll in which they questioned 20,000 women aged 18-65 on their beauty habits. The women were asked; “Would you say that your beauty spending has increased or decreased in the past five years?” Incredibly 59% of the women asked stated that it had increased, with 21% saying that it had increased significantly. Results like this go to show that despite the recession, women are still willing to pay for their beauty treatments.
This is all brilliant news for those of us in the industry; however it does have its reverse impact. I trained as a beauty therapist immediately on leaving school in 1990. Back then the industry was very different. We aspired to very high standards, endured very tough and long training on anatomy & physiology, hygiene, industry standards etc, and all of us had come into the training based on our passion for beauty and being the best we could be.
My one bug bear after all that training was always the low wages we received (which hasn’t changed sadly). You definitely weren’t in beauty to make your millions back then. Salons were few and far between, clients were generally wealthy women, but on the upside jobs were always easy to find.
Fast forward to 2010. I had left the industry in favour of motherhood and in order to work around my children as they grew older, had taken jobs in retail instead. I missed beauty therapy though. I decided to go back to college and retrain as a beauty therapist to get my confidence back and to increase my chances of getting employed again.
My experience at college overall was good; I loved the course, and met some really fantastic girls who shared my passion for quality and good hygiene standards, but there lurked another type of trainee in our midst – the kind that looked on the industry as a way to make a fast buck. They wanted to get through the course as quickly as possible so they could get out there and start making money and they didn’t care about any of the standards that were so dear to my heart. In most cases they were out advertising their services before we had even finished learning the treatment. I was appalled and dismayed.
Irritating as these girls were – they were only the tip of the iceberg. At least they were willing to do a year long course.
The newest (I say newest but I’m not sure when it started) thing in the beauty industry is the “one day course”. It used to be that to do a “one day course” in something like nails; you would have to be fully qualified in beauty therapy first. This would ensure that you understood the structure of the nail and how not to cause damage to it. I would say that is a pretty important thing to understand, wouldn’t you?
Apparently not to the “training schools” who offer these courses.
As a result the industry is now saturated with people who have little understanding of what they are doing, running around like cowboy builders. The impact can be severe. I have met so many people terrified to get shellac on their nails because a “cowboy nail tech” that wasn’t properly trained has damaged their nails. It’s so frustrating.
Then we have the ridiculously low prices they charge which a real beauty therapist, using genuine good quality products cannot compete with without making a loss. The saying “you get what you pay for” is something clients need to keep in mind. If you are paying peanuts, chances are the quality of the product the therapist is using on you is inferior, regardless of what she tells you it is.
I am of the opinion that to continue offering a great service to my clients; I must continue to train, train, train. Training is expensive and so are the quality products so overall my prices will reflect that. I always buy from reputable stockists to ensure I am getting the genuine product for my clients. I do not buy my stock from ebay!
Then we move on to the “business people” who buy a salon with no understanding or education within the beauty industry. They employ therapists, pay them minimum wage and are only interested in how big a profit they can make. Do they care about standards, clients, therapists? I doubt it.
The cry from industry professionals, including myself is that we need the industry to be better regulated. This protects our clients and our reputation, and those are the two most important things as far as I am concerned.
My advice to people seeking a beauty therapist is always do your homework. Ask questions and ask to see their diplomas. Look into the company they got the diploma from. Protect yourself – beauty therapy isn’t all fluff and if you happen across a cowboy you need to run a mile.