July 4th marks the reopening of pubs and hair salons across the country. As millions of people prepare to fix up and look sharp, while sipping a bevvie in a beer garden, spare a thought for the thousands of facialists, nail salons and beauticians who will not be allowed back to work on independence day.Skincare expert Caroline Hirons, dubbed the most influential woman in beauty explains, “As long as men can go to the pub and watch football that’s fine. But an industry that brings in £30 billion to the economy and employs 600,000 people is an afterthought. It systemically affects women, many of whom are sole traders, independent freelancers and the breadwinners of their families”.The beauty industry has always been seen as the little sister of fashion and often dismissed as being slight and trivial. The fact MPs and Boris Johnson laughed out loud in PMQs at the mention of this sector, underlines this point. I think misogyny rather than scientific fact is behind many salons remaining closed. So when you consider the fact this is an industry has 90 percent female employees and the legislation is being made by middle class white men who can’t possibly understand the social and economic needs of the working women, single mothers, students who rely on the beauty industry to pay for everything from higher education to get food on the table for their children, it is far from just about the colour of a nail varnish.
Beauty salons are not just about beautification but as Sherrille Riley, owner of Nails and Brows in Mayfair, who has groomed the brows of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex says, “Our spaces are about connection, confidence, mental health, it’s mood-boosting and socialising and human touch”.
Beauty isn’t just skin deep but is also about soul work and an industry, which is empowering to many female entrepreneurs who are all suffering. Safety is of course a propriety but many have been left confused over the haphazard approach of the government.
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Since the delay in school closures back in March this year and the Government’s controversial herd immunity plan to tackle Covid-19, the government seem to have taken a random and scatter gun approach to the pandemic. The facts are clear that many businesses will go under unless something is done to support them.
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Millie Kendall, MBE of the British Beauty Council, has been in talks with the Government to try and get answers and has said, “No one has openly admitted to why hair has been prioritised. There has been some mention of it not being face to face, but neither is a pedicure and if a chiropodist can work then this seems like a ridiculous argument. The Government keep referring to scientific evidence and we have asked for this in detail. We need to rationalise what this scientific evidence means to our treatments”.
It seems to me the Government needs to show more respect and come up with a coherent plan to help the beauty industry. This is an industry, which empowers both women and men and brings in more money to the economy than Britain’s Car industry.