Professional beautician and company director Angela Blemmings is leading a local rallying call for the industry to be allowed to get back to work.
It comes in the wake of the government’s decision to keep businesses like beauty salons, nail parlours and tattoo clinics closed - even though hairdressers and pubs can open again on July 4.
Angela, who owns Eye Candy Beauty and Training Academy on Market Street in Stalybridge, has branded the decision ‘unjust and under reviewed’.
“We are all set to open safely in accordance to the guidelines for close contact services issued on 23rd June - as are thousands of others,” she said.
“Lots of salons have spent a lot of money and as an industry we are better placed in terms of safety than many,” says Angela.
“Our sector has a strong and existing standard on hygiene and sanitation, and is used to operating in a clean and sterile environment. The use of PPE is standard practise and has been for many years within this sector.”
Already the announcement has led to peaceful protest marches by beauticians in some towns in response to the government decision, which leaves business owners like Angela no date for being allowed to open.
“My profession, my reputation and my business is at stake as well as many others. The action of reopening my beauty business is not from a profit perspective, it’s survival. I want to continue to serve the wellbeing of my colleagues and clients,” said Angela.
She adds that the beauty industry is ‘being pushed to the brink of despair financially’.
She has now set up a Facebook page to harness support and is even seeking support for the possibility of staging a protest march of her own ‘in full PPE’ on behalf of beauticians locally.
She has also posted a template letter to send to Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds, who has already agreed to take the case Angela makes to the government on her behalf.
You can support Angela’s call on the Facebook page ‘Tameside Beauty Salons, tattoo parlors and clinics’.
Angela also writes in detail to give her industry’s case to the Tameside Reporter this week - and you can read her letter below.
'The beauty industry is crucial'
I’m writing to ask for your support in helping our fight for survival.
The Government has given the go-ahead for hairdressing salons to open on July 4 but not beauty salons or mobile/home-based beauty businesses.
This seems unjust and highly under-reviewed.
My business EyeCandy Training is safe and ready to reopen again in accordance to the guidelines for close contact services issued on June 23 as are thousands of others.
Our sector has a strong and existing standard on hygiene and sanitation, and is used to operating in a clean and sterile environment. The use of PPE is standard practise and has been for many years within this sector.
The industry has also worked with medical professionals to develop enhanced safety guidelines for the skincare and salon sector which go well beyond HM Government’s guidelines.
Tens of thousands of professionals across the UK have taken additional certification, and Covid-ready courses pledging to uphold the highest safety and hygiene standards.
To voice some concerns people may have about the practise of beauty and aesthetics and any issues raised I have included a few pointers.
• Waxing the body - the therapist is not near the client’s face, PPE is worn.
• Brow treatments including microblading - the therapist is behind the client. PPE is standard practise and salons have invested in additional PPE
• Nails - yes, the therapist holds the client’s hands. Gloves, masks, perspex screens, dust extractors have been purchased and installed in many salons
• Eyelash extensions - the therapist is sat behind their client. Gloves, a visor and mask can be worn by the therapist and a mask can be worn by the client
• Back massage - a client would have their face in the bed.
• Botox and fillers - PPE is standard practise. Visors can be worn as an additional measure.
As well as the use of PPE and social distancing, hand washing before and after is standard practise.
Regular breaks can be taken for longer treatments and longer appointment times can be booked between clients to give enough time to sanitise the working area and prepare for the next client.
Additionally, the beauty and wellness industry already has to do CPD every year to maintain membership of their governing organisation. We are constantly up-skilling.
The Prime Minister stated he would allow us to reopen when he was confident it was safe to do so, I feel the information I have provided shows the industry is more than ready and in many angles more prepared and safe than other businesses that have been granted to reopen.
The beauty industry and mental health have long intersected. The beauty industry is a psychological signifier of our mental well-being. The beauty industry is crucial. We live in a society where people are judged on the way they look and whether they will be accepted as a person.
The country is faced with NHS waiting lists of up to four years for mental health treatment and now due to Covid this could be even longer.
We are not trained to deal with mental health.
However, many clients are aware of the fact that beauticians’, aesthetic practitioners’ and tattoo artists’ confidentiality agreements prevents them from being able to reveal client’s problems unless they are in imminent danger.
Having this acknowledgment that it is completely confidential encourages people to off-load and share their thoughts and emotions because they feel they are in a safe environment.
Additionally, women disclose about abusive relationships and many therapists have taken training on how to spot the signs and access professional support for these victims.
My profession, my reputation and my business is at stake, as well as many others.
The action of reopening my beauty business is not from a profit perspective, it’s survival.
I want to continue to serve the wellbeing of my colleagues and clients. The beauty and nail sector alone, excluding hair, employs 120,000 people across 30,000 businesses.
The Government appears to be treating our industry as a non-essential service where in fact we play a large role in maintaining the mental health and well-being of many thousands of clients.
Additionally many thousands of beauticians are self-employed therefore do not get furlough and have limited access to financial support because they either have partners who are working or have had previously low profit margins in previous years due to reasons such as maternity leave for example.
The fact that people are now allowed to go on holiday and people within the beauty industry being pushed to the brink of despair financially, it is highly unlikely that many ladies would want to go on holiday without getting their beauty treatments beforehand.
This unfortunately will lead to underground practise. It would be safer to allow the industry to resume work with the correct guidelines in place.
To summarise, the beauty process is more than Covid-safe and ready and the beauty community probably has the highest level of understanding and training of hygiene, cross contamination and infection control than any other industry that has been allowed to reopen on July 4.
I hope you will do your bit to help our voices be heard
Company Director of EyeCandy Training Ltd,
Meanwhile, Cllr Oliver Ryan - Tameside Council's Executive Member for Finance and Economic Growth - went to speak to Angela about the difficulties her business is faced with. Listen to their chat at the top of the page.