Who regulates hairdressers?

The hairdressing industry is currently unregulated. There are no general licensing requirements and there is no statutory requirement for hairdressers (including barbers) to hold specified qualifications. The registration of hairdressers is voluntary.

In terms of consumer redress, hairdressers provide a service and, as such, are subject to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 .

Local authority byelaws may impose certain requirements on hairdressing establishments. Normal business regulations would also apply, including health and safety requirements. Further information is set out below. There is also the Commons Library briefing, Regulation of hairdressers.

Voluntary registration

The Hairdressers (Registration) Act 1964 provides for a voluntary statutory UK Register for qualified hairdressers. It is estimated that only 10 per cent of hairdressers are registered.

The Register is maintained by the Hair Council , which was set up by the Act in 1964. The Hair Council does not receive Government funding; it is funded solely by registration fees. Importantly, the Hair Council has no legal power to act on behalf of consumers.

UK Register for qualified hairdressers

Any hairdresser or barber may elect to register with the Hair Council provided he or she has evidence of training to an approved standard, that is a standard approved by the Council. Information about how to register, including its claimed benefits, is given on the Council’s website

Training and qualifications

There is information about training and qualifications on the Hair Council website. There is more detailed information on the Hair and Beauty Industry Authority website.

Consumer protection legislation

Hairdressers provide a consumer service and are subject to consumer protection legislation. As stated above, the Hair Council has no legal power to act on behalf of consumers.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015) came into force on 1 October 2015. In respect of the provision of services (including hairdressing), the CRA 2015 provides specific statutory rights and remedies where none existed previously.

The Commons Library briefing, Regulation of hairdressers outlines consumer rights under the CRA 2015 [section 2.1 of the paper]. It also mentions consumer protection under the Unfair Trading Regulations and refers to Commons Library briefing, Consumer protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for more detail.

How to complain

In the first instance, the consumer should complain to the hair salon. If the complaint cannot be resolved, the salon must provide the consumer with details of a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider.

ADR involves the use of a mediation service to attempt to reach a compromise, and thus avoid legal action. It is important to note, however, that the hairdresser is not legally obliged to use such a mediation service. 

There is a Commons Library briefing, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and consumer disputes which provides detailed information.  

Further help

Citizens Advice can provide legal advice free of charge. The home page provides a search option which works by town or postcode to find a constituent’s local Citizens Advice. There is also a national Adviceline telephone service: 03444 111 444. 

The Commons Library briefing, Legal help: where to go and how to pay may also be of interest to constituents.

Initiatives for change

According to its website, the Hair Council is actively campaigning for mandatory registration of hairdressers.

There have been various attempts in Parliament to introduce legislation to regulate hairdressers, but without success. There is more information about Parliamentary initiatives in Commons Library briefing, Regulation of hairdressers [section 3, Parliamentary initiatives].