The beauty industry is in a political sexism crisis

Today, if you are a woman in the UK, here is what you can book in for at a beauty salon: absolutely nothing.

Last week Boris Johnson performed a spectacularly unsubstantiated U-turn on the reopening of ‘close contact services’, which was scheduled for August 1st and now postponed until August 15th. This means that women are not allowed to have facials. They are not allowed to have makeup applied. Nor can they have their eyebrows threaded, waxed or tweezed.

For five long months there has been no upper lip waxing or maintenance for the very real hirsutism that post-menopausal women of those with PCOS must cope with every single day. You cannot get your lashes or brows tinted – even though this is an emotional and physical lifeline for those with alopecia or those undergoing cancer treatment.

Today, if you are a man in the UK, here is what you can book in for at a barber’s shop: a beard and moustache trim with clippers or scissors; eyebrow tweezing, waxing and trimming; nose and ear waxing; a facial; brow and lash tinting.

There are hundreds of images online right now of barber shops nationwide proudly showing off their customers’ results and mid-treatment snaps, yet very few staff members are wearing a mask or visor or any form of PPE, and there is zero social distancing between clients.

Do you think this is fair? Let’s put a pin in that for now.

Because while we’re all (quite rightly) lamenting the injustice of our beauty treatments being dangled in our faces then ripped away from us, the thousands of men and women who work in this industry are still out of work since the start of lockdown. These people own businesses that are now on the brink of closure; they’re often the breadwinner in the family and they help to generate £30billon a year to the UK economy.

To put that into perspective, the male-dominated pub industry generates £23billion. And if there is one community that respects and adheres to safety regulations to maintain their clinics and salons, it’s aestheticians, makeup artists, therapists and facialists.

In a nutshell, this is a government clusterf*ck of epic proportions. It is pure sexism and gender discrimination, no two ways about it, and the shocking hypocrisy beggars belief – you could practically weave this narrative through a 1950s novel.

However, there is hope. Real, tangible hope. A group of beauty leaders has launched a rebellion this week that promises to protect, support and stand up for these struggling workers. The Beauty Backed campaign calls for all beauty services to resume in full immediately, while providing financial relief to all struggling beauty professionals so that they can begin to rebuild their businesses.

The initiative was launched by the skincare expert and beauty phenomenon Caroline Hirons in association with the with The Hair Beauty Charity (an independent service dedicated to helping beauty professionals) and the backing of The British Beauty Council and The British Association of Beauty Therapists Cosmetology. So far, Caroline and her colleagues have raised almost £300,000 as a crucial safety net for beauty professionals.

But it’s not enough: the government have failed to respond to this heroic feat and the awareness of Beauty Backed needs to stretch even further. This is where you come in, and there are so many ways you can show your support.


Follow this link to the Beauty Backed Go Fund Me page. Whether it’s a fiver or £50, any amount of cash will make a huge difference. And if you need convincing, think of it like this: have you ever walked away from a beauty appointment and realised too late that you didn’t leave a tip? Now’s your time to cough up for all of those times you forgot, didn’t have enough change or simply didn’t realised you should have.


By signing the Beauty Backed petition you are actively showing your support for beauty industry professionals and standing up for gender equality and anti-sexism.


Makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon is currently putting together mystery beauty bags worth hundreds of pounds and selling them for £50, with all proceeds going to Beauty Backed. She needs stock, so DM her for details on how to send her products.


Keep an eye on Lisa’s Stories. She’ll post updates on when the next batch of mystery bags will be on sale and you can nab one for yourself!

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can all be activists in our own small ways with real repercussions to be proud of. This is one of those times, for the love of beauty.

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