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A hair and beauty industry study: What will the UK be prioritising now that lockdown has eased?


After a stop-start year of turbulence and disappointment for many of those within the retail, hospitality and hair and beauty sectors, the government’s roadmap out of lockdown offers light at the end of the tunnel for many businesses.

The plans shared earlier this year by the UK government, which has seen these establishments slowly reopen and trade as “normal”, are a huge sigh of relief for those hoping to get their business back on track now that it is safe to do so.

Since the country has began its return to business as usual, we were keen to find out which establishments customers and clients had planned to visit first in the weeks following the lockdown lift. Were hairdressers or beauticians the first port of call? Or have they been rushing down to our local for a drink or two the moment rules allowed, albeit al fresco for now? We commissioned a study, surveying 1,000 UK adult to discover more.

A long-awaited hair cut
Our research found that whilst a long-awaited pint down the pub might be at the top of the list for some (15%), just under ten per cent more of clients simply cannot wait to get an appointment booked in with their hairdresser or barber (24%) and will make that their number one priority.

In fact, it seems that a large number of women are reluctant to head to the pub until they’ve paid a visit to their favoured salon first, with almost a third (31%) prioritising a haircut, colour or beauty treatment.

 But not everyone agrees, as one in four (24%) will be treating themselves to a delicious meal in a restaurant before they head to the barbers or hairdressers.

What do we want? Beauty treatments! When do we want them? NOW!
With so many cancellations in appointments spanning almost the whole of 2020 and into the start of 2021, waiting lists for hair and beauty appointments are extensive and appointments are like gold dust across the first few weeks of reopening. Many people working within the industry will likely be working extra hours to meet demand and squeeze in their valued clients.

We also quizzed our survey participants about just how much they wanted an appointment, whether that be with their hairdresser, nail technician, massage therapist, or beauty therapist, and it seems many of them cannot wait to get back in the chair – and are willing to pay more to do so!

Our data showed that almost half of the nation (45%) admitted they would be willing to pay an additional fee for a priority appointment, with more than 5.2 million sharing they would be happy to splash out an additional £20pp to fast track their visit to the hair salon more quickly, on top of their usual hairdressing bill.

Of course, the majority of hairdressers will not be charging any extra, and appointments will be distributed as fairly and as fast as you can fit them in. However, hypothetically, if the above was a feasible option, it would mean an additional £105 million being injected into the hair industry alone, in addition to the usual ‘normal’ UK income from  cut, colour, treatments or blow dry appointments.

Naturally, with Covid still a concern, there are a number of customers who won’t be rushing to beat the crowds in the coming months, with one in ten (11%) stating they were not yet ready to book in a hair appointment just yet, despite the additional hygiene steps that are in place.

Uh oh, it seems we’re a DIY Nation
Less than a third (28%) of clients have played it safe and avoided give-it-a-go hair and beauty treatments, opting instead to wait it out for their favourite professional to work their magic for them.

When quizzed, seven in ten UK adults (72%) admitted to us that they’ve attempted a DIY haircut or beauty treatment at home during lockdown, with men seemingly more daring than women when it comes to their luscious locks, as more than half (58%) shared attempted a trim at home in lockdown, compared to 36% of women.  

Battling those greys and roots seems to have been a lockdown trend too, especially amongst the ladies, as a further quarter of women also gave a home dye a-go while their usual salon was closed, with more daring colours such as pandemic pink sweeping the nation.  

 Undoubtedly it won’t just be hairdressers and barbers who have their work cut out correcting DIY haircut and colour mistakes when they finally reopen, with DIY mani-pedi’s (8% of people did these) facials (6%), full body massages (5%) and back and neck massages (5%), also revealed to be popular at home treatments trialled by Brits. 

Top Treatments
Treatwell reported that the most popular salon treatments in 2019 included sugar waxing, lash lifts, dermaplaning and brow lamination, but we’re eager to see how the UK’s approach to beauty and the treatments they favour has changed after a year of disruption across the industry and more time spent at home.

According to our survey, the top treatments UK adults are most looking forward to having done professionally are a haircut or shave (45% are most looking forward to this), full head hair colouring (14%), a blow-dry (11%), a full body massage (10%) and a root touch up (9%). 

Looking more closely at the demographic data, we found that aside from a haircut or shave, which was deemed the hair and beauty treatment most eagerly anticipated post-lockdown across all UK cities, almost a fifth (17%) of Londoners are eager to get a full body massage, which is also a top choice across Southampton (16%) Glasgow (11%), Edinburgh (11%) and Manchester (10%).

With a reported 86% of the nation unexpectedly working from home over the past year due to Covid, often without a proper desk set-up, the aches and pains from doing so have added up, and more than a third (36%) have been experiencing increased back pain in the months following their move to home working in 2020. It’s understandable then, that almost a fifth (17%) of those surveyed are looking forward to booking in a massage now that things have started to reopen.

We know that priority bookings are unlikely to be an option for most and introducing a chargeable fast-track scheme isn’t something that we would recommend, as it may put off some loyal clients from returning. Unfortunately, this does mean that, some customers have (or will) grown impatient owing to being unable to book in regular appointments due to temporary closures, and as such have turned to DIY hair and beauty treatments instead, feeling unable to wait it out for an appointment when restrictions ease. 

Despite the at home hair and beauty errors you may be tasking with fixing, it is easy to see from the study just how much the nation has missed hair and beauty professionals over the course of 2020 and 2021 (and we’re sure you’ve missed your clients too!). Ultimately, we believe it really has also brought home to many just how much the hair and beauty industry is relied upon to help the nation look and feel like a more fabulous version of themselves, and we know you will be ready and waiting to do so now the restrictions have eased.