Beauty salons offering beauty therapy, body therapy, massage and tanning services have remained a popular choice amongst start-ups with industry analysts claiming that they have continued to perform well amid the economic downturn. A 2011 report by simply business suggested that between 2008 and 2010, beauty salons were amongst the fastest growing high street shops in the UK.

Often, the increased visibility of beauty salons on our high streets is attributed to relatively low start-up costs; however, salons also appear to have benefitted from recent trends such as the number of men searching for specialist health and beauty treatments. 

Whether you’re a fully-trained beauty therapist, or someone with management experience who has a passion for the industry; starting a beauty salon could be the ideal first business for you.

Why start a beauty salon?

A rich talent pool of potential staff and steady consumer demand means that the UK is a great place to set up a beauty salon with standards recognised as being among the best in the world. If you are prepared to persist and put the work in, there is every chance that your salon could become a thriving business.

Beauty may be a multi-million pound industry in the UK with much of this money being spent in salons; however, it’s also important to remember that salons are about much more than just good grooming, manicures and pedicures. Many see them as refuge where they can escape the pressures of modern day living, with that in mind you will need to focus a lot of your efforts on good customer service and creating a welcoming atmosphere. 

Choosing a location

When selecting a location for your salon, it’s important to consider the type of market that you will be looking to target. It goes without saying that you will benefit greatly by setting up your business in an area highly populated by other outlets that may attract your potential consumer base.

It is also worth carrying out some competitor research, which looks to provide answers to questions such as is your nearest competitor a small independent business or part of a large franchise? What services do they provide, and what do they specialise in? How much do they charge? Following this you can establish whether there is a gap in the market that is not currently being fulfilled.

Choosing the right products

Choosing the right products to use and retail in your salon is another important step. It is well worth taking your time to research a number of brands so that you can determine which products will provide your customers with the best experience, while remaining commercially viable.   


In recent times, the beauty industry has often been scrutinised on the grounds that it is poorly regulated. However, there are a number of key pieces of legislation and regulatory advice that you will need to be aware of from the outset.

Firstly, some local authorities may require salons in their area to register with them. Moreover, if you are thinking of offering services such as ear piercing or electrolysis, you will be expected to register with your environmental health department and if you’re based in Nothern Ireland, you will need to register with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS).
Further to this, like any employer, you must comply with employment legislation.

Similarly, you must also take steps to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and will be responsible for ensuring that you comply with fire safety regulations.

Finally, as an employer you have a duty to ensure the health and safety of both your employees and your customers by complying with the Health and Safety at Work Act and regulations made under it such as Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations.

Sunbed services

If you are also thinking of offering tanning services in the form of sunbeds you will need to be aware of additional legislation such as the Sunbed (Regulation) Act 2010. This act prohibits any person in England and Wales under the age of 18 from using a ultra-violet radiation tanning device in a salon and could leave you in line to receive a fine of up to £20,000 if not adhered to. In Scotland under-18 sunbed use has been banned since 2008.


No matter how experienced you and your staff are, there is always a risk that something can go wrong. It is important to obtain appropriate public liability and employer’s liability insurance. Industry membership organisations like BABTAC offer access to insurance cover as well as exclusive offers and discounts. Furthermore, it checks the credentials of every salon wishing to become a member which offers reassurance to consumers.