Do beauty salons have to close in the UK? The latest updates for your area

How do the current rules affect beauty salons where you live? Here's everything we know

are beauty salons open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The new year has kicked off with various lockdowns across the UK – so what does this mean for beauty salons? Are beauty salons open anywhere in the UK? Here are the latest updates. 

With restrictions seemingly changing on a daily basis, many of us are wondering when we'll next be able to treat ourselves to a much-needed bit of pampering.

Wondering what the recent update means for beauty salons in your area? Keep reading for what the latest rules mean for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Do beauty salons have to close in England?

On Monday 4th January, Boris Johnson announced that England would go into a third national lockdown from midnight. This means that all non-essential retail and personal care services across the country are closed – including beauty salons. 

For those areas that were previously in tiers 1, 2 and 3, this means beauty salons are shut from Tuesday 5th January. A review of these new restrictions is expected during the week beginning 15th February, with any changes coming into effect from the following week – but we have no indication of what may or may not be able to reopen then.

Are beauty salons open in Scotland?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the country would go into lockdown from midnight on Tuesday 5th January, with new laws in place that only permit people from leaving their homes for essential reasons. This means that all beauty services, including beauty services, are closed until at least the end of January, when the situation may be reviewed.

Can beauty salons open in Wales?

No. The entire country is at alert level four as of the 20th December, the equivalent of a lockdown, meaning that all non-essential retail and personal care services must remain shut. The lockdown was due to start on the 28th of December, but was brought forward in response to a rise in coronavirus cases. 

Are beauty salons open in Northern Ireland?

No. As of Boxing Day, Northern Ireland has been under a six-week lockdown, meaning that all personal care services including beauty salons are closed. 

What happened after the first lockdown?

In July, when hairdressers and beauty salons first re-opened in the UK, some facial services were still off limits despite beard trims being allowed in hairdressers – sparking significant backlash.

While some treatments, like spray tans and manicures, resumed in July, the following treatments were not permitted until the middle of August.

  • LVL (lash lift)
  • Eyelash tinting
  • Eyebrow microblading
  • Eyebrow and eyelash tinting
  • Eyebrow waxing
  • Dermarolling
  • Facials
  • Professional make-up

model getting nails done

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In 2020, hairdressers and barbers were given the green light to reopen on the 4th of July, but beauty salons and nail bars were not included on the list.

A government source responded to BABTAC on the 24th of June regarding when beauty salons could reopen. They said, "In terms of why hairdressing [is opening] and not beauty, the answer is because the government is taking a phased, cautious approach to reopening the economy to ensure that we limit the spread of the virus. 

"This means that choices have had to be made as to which businesses to reopen as part of the next phase."

The government's move to open other businesses, like hairdressers and barbers, before beauty salons prompted criticism that businesses run by women were being left out in the cold.

Caroline Nokes MP said it seemed that the lockdown easing was "designed by men, for men.

"What we have seen is female led businesses left to the back of the pile. It’s very obvious that men with hair need barbers and hairdressers; they perhaps find less need for pedicures and leg waxers.

"And it’s absolutely noticeable that the beauty industry has 90% female employees and the majority are women-led businesses. We’re preventing our women entrepreneurs from getting back to work."

When can beauty salons reopen?

How does social distancing work when beauty salons are open?

Ahead of the first lockdown lifting, the government released new guidance for “close contact” businesses, which includes beauty salons.

As with hairdressers, a huge part of the beauty salon experience requires hands-on treatment, and so some of the social distancing measures include the following.

  • Waiting areas removed: some customers are asked to turn up at their appointment on time or wait outside the salon
  • Increased hygiene and sanitisation, e.g replacement of all disposable items between customers
  • Appointments only
  • Customers seated at least one metre away from each other
  • Doors and windows open to increase ventilation
  • Perspex screens at receptions
  • Removal of some treatments
  • No cash, with card appointments sometimes taken in advance
  • Protective visors for therapists
  • No magazines, food or drink on offer