Face treatment ban: sensible or sexist?

Why are beard trims allowed but no face treatments?

Our grand “unlocking”, rightly or wrongly, has perhaps happened more swiftly than we might have predicted. Over the last week or so, hairdressers, barbers, spas and beauty salons have all been given the green light to open. So why are face treatments still not allowed? Is it sensible policy or blatant sexism? By Sarah Bradbury.

Call me vain but the first thing I did when the government announced hairdressers could reopen from last weekend was book in a hair cut and colour. The first thing I did when it was also announced beauty salons had the go ahead from Monday, I booked a wax.

I don’t think I was the only one to jump at the chance to reintroduce some grooming into my life after 4 months locked down. And those businesses were no doubt relieved they could finally get some customers and income rolling it, albeit with COVID-safe measures now in place…

But there has been one caveat – any beauty treatments to the face are still not allowed. Plus, crucially, no time frame has been given for when they can restart.

This effectively means a ban on treatments for eyebrows and eyelashes as well as facials. Not only is this frustrating for my eyebrow situation but for the many salons and workers for whom beauty treatments to the face are a core service offering – and therefore a big driver of income.

Some therapists have even said their salons may not be financially viable without being able to offer them. This in turn disproportionately affects the majority female workforce of the industry, which incidentally adds a cool £30bil to the UK economy annually. That’s more than the car industry.

The big question is – why the distinction? If other treatments are able to resume as long as the right precautions are taken, do those to the face prevent a much greater risk in reality? Furthermore, there has been no parallel restriction on other types of treatment for men such as beard, moustache, eyebrow and side burn trimmings, leading to accusations of a sexist policy approach.

The flutter of school-boy giggles followed by dismissive remarks in the Commons when William Wragg MP challenged the government on when beauty salons could reopen didn’t help matters.

A government spokesperson argued that there was a logic to the policy approach, telling The Telegraph: “There is a difference between a man having his beard or eyebrows trimmed, which doesn’t have to be face-to-face and can be done quite quickly, and a facial which might often take an hour.” Hmm and what about eyebrow threading which can take only a matter of minutes?

Helen Ward, from Sirens Hair and Beauty Salon, in Durham, told The Northern Echo: “I think it’s pure chauvinistic sexism from our Government. A lot of families are reliant on the beauty industry providing a wage. I am not an angry feminist, but I am this week.”

In a letter to Downing Street, trade body the Beauty Guild also pointed out there was no scientific reason eyebrow treatments posed more of a threat: “Allowing men to have their beards trimmed while banning women from being able to have their eyebrows treated is, with respect, absurd.”

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Beauty Guild have today sent an open letter to @borisjohnsonuk, asking the UK Government to allow Beauty Salons to offer Eyebrow Treatments. The letter from Beauty Guild Director, Paul Archer says: . Dear Boris, I am writing to you as a Director of the Beauty Guild, the UK’s largest trade body representing over 16,000 beauty, hair, nail and holistic professionals. Whilst we welcome the news that beauty salons in England can re-open on Monday 13th July 2020, the restrictions placed on the treatments they are allowed to offer mean that many businesses will simply not survive. The list of services which remain off-limits is not based on the science of COVID-19 infection prevention and control. Specifically, eyebrow treatments are banned even though we believe it is possible for these popular treatments to be safely resumed. Allowing men to have their beards trimmed while banning women from being able to have their eyebrows treated is, with respect, absurd. The beauty industry is worth more to the UK economy than the car industry, and yet the male dominated UK Government’s attitude towards it has been flippant and dismissive. Indeed, your own comments about beauty salons in the House of Commons on 1st July 2020 in response to a question from William Wragg MP have drawn scathing comments from our members and their clients. The wellbeing impact of this decision also needs to be considered. Many of our members have suffered financial hardship during the lockdown and imposing further unnecessary restrictions on their livelihoods is grossly unfair. While it is understandable that some treatments must remain off-limits, there is no scientific reason why eyebrow treatments pose more of a threat than beard trimming. We therefore urge the Government to allow eyebrow treatments to be resumed as soon as possible under the safe working guidelines. . Please like and reshare this post if you agree and tag @borisjohnsonuk

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Have your say

Do you think the restrictions make sense? Or are these a reflection of a fundamentally sexist approach from a male-dominated, out-of-touch government? Have you had any treatments yet since lockdown lifted?