The luxury of enjoying a manicure, a facial or a full body massage, have become mainstream services offering a welcome respite from the daily grind of work and family life. We all deserve it: whether it’s a wedding or a party to prepare for, or you want to get beach-ready for your summer – beauty salons are the place to go.
But it’s not just for pampering or aesthetic reasons that people visit beauty salons. Many individuals have unsightly hair growth that needs expert removal. Cancer survivors who lose their hair, or who are left with sparse eyebrows, visit beauty salons to have their eyebrows ‘redefined’, and to find a wig that will help them feel confident to face life.
The fact is – we may all need a refreshing pamper, or help from a beauty salon to restore our self-confidence, from time to time. This is why more and more beauty salons are opening in the UK every year, reflecting the huge growth in the beauty industry over recent years. The UK hair and beauty industry is currently worth around £7 billion but, unfortunately, the industry remains unregulated. So what about when things go wrong?
Beauty therapists working in beauty salons have a legal duty of care towards their clients. Under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, beauty salon owners/managers must protect their clients from the risk of accidents. Other laws that beauty salons must specifically comply with include the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 which requires salon owners to control hazardous chemicals properly, monitor exposure levels, and provide necessary training in their use.
All this means salon owners/therapists must take certain information from their clients, such as their age, any health problems, and whether they are pregnant – and tell their clients of the risks of treatment. In some cases, discharging their duty of care may require the therapist to tell the client they cannot perform the treatment they are asking for – for instance, the individual is too young, or she is pregnant so her options are limited for health reasons.
Patch tests are necessary in many cases: if you’re having treatment involving chemicals (eg. permanent eyebrow tattoos), the salon must do a patch test to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction. Treatments such as chemical peels, which are categorised as cosmetic procedures, should have the prior written consent of the client.
The therapist/salon should also give you appropriate information about the products they intend to use, and the equipment involved. Necessary warnings should be given where there is a risk of a client misusing or touching equipment, chemicals, etc, which could cause harm or injury.
If the therapist or salon breaches their duty of care and the client suffers injury, they can face a negligence claim for personal injury compensation.
Unfortunately, there are cases where clients do suffer pain and injuries during, or following, a beauty salon treatment. Typical injuries include chemical burns, damage to sensitive areas of skin (after Brazilian waxing treatments, for instance), skin reactions, infections – and even psychological injury in serious cases.
Substandard laser treatment because the therapist has not been trained properly can lead to various problems, including burning and skin sensitivity. Over-exposure on a tanning bed can result in first degree burns – and even a slip of a finger from an inexperienced therapist can result in a nasty injury to the eye.
However, not all beauty salon injuries are the result of negligence. A conscientious therapist may do all they are required to do to make sure the treatment is as safe and risk-free as they can, but if the client still suffers an adverse reaction as a result of the treatment (a lasting skin condition, for instance), the salon might not be held liable.
If you have been injured, or have suffered physical problems following beauty salon treatment as a result of negligence, you can claim for compensation. If you haven’t yet seen a doctor, make sure you get medical help as soon as you can as the medical notes and records will be vital to your claim.
You will need to collect all the evidence you can: this includes any paperwork from the salon (receipts, appointment cards, and records from the salon’s accident report book), photographs of the injuries if possible, records of any medical treatment, and an account of what happened – and the circumstances leading up to the treatment and injury). If there are any witnesses that can help your claim, make sure you have their details.
You should speak to a solicitor as soon as you can as there are strict legal time limits. You have 3 years to start your claim, otherwise you may lose the chance to claim compensation. However, if the victim is a child – for example, your 16-year-old daughter suffered chemical burns from a treatment, the 3-year period doesn’t start to run until she reaches 18.
If you or someone close to you has been injured following beauty salon treatment, you can speak to a trained legal adviser about pursuing compensation free on 0800 234 6438. Their solicitors will work on a no win no fee basis, which means there is little risk financially to starting a claim.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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