Nancy Buckland Kirk reflects on falling into beauty writing and explains why the UK beauty industry needs our support more than ever this summer.
I sort of fell into beauty writing. Talk about a late-in-the-day career change. Previously, I had been an Economics teacher. Well, technically a Head of Economics, but there was only me in the department. Which meant I often had my departmental meetings whilst queuing in a supermarket. I have absolutely no training in make-up. I have never worked in beauty or skincare, apart from a few seasons in John Lewis working on fragrances. I just write about what I know, as a non-influencing beauty fanatic. The only thing I do have is years of experience of trying ‘stuff’ out.
I can remember the days when there were only a couple of decent beauty salons in my home city of Liverpool. Now there are so many, and that’s also a UK wide phenomenon. One in sixty jobs in this country is in the beauty industry. And it’s not all a bit of nail filing and a chat about your holidays. The industry moves on at such a pace, it’s hard to keep up. However, as I type it has been put in reverse in England at least.
Here’s the thing. You can’t go and have a facial in a sterile environment but you can go into a number of barber shops and have your nostrils waxed. You’re not supposed to, and many aren’t wearing PPE, but it’s happening, and then some. Meanwhile, I know friends of all ages in the industry who are struggling. My heart goes out to young employees, in their first jobs, fresh out of college, now without work and wondering what is going to happen next.
For some reason, the beauty industry is deemed by many to be frivolous, but it’s a huge money-maker in the UK. It is currently worth £28 billion per year, compared to the £5 billion music industry, and the pub industry, which makes around £23 billion. The beauty industry contributes around £6 billion in taxes, and before lockdown employed 600,000 people. It is getting little or no direct support and yep, we all heard the laughter in the Commons when the topic was brought up.
What can we do? Apart from booking in locally with salons for treatments if they are available and you can afford them, and also if it is personally suitable for you, you can also join in a new campaign called Beauty Backed, set up by skincare expert and industry powerhouse, Caroline Hirons, alongside BABTAC. It has two goals: to petition the government to open up beauty again, and also to give financial help to those struggling within the industry.
Before I hear cries that the government should do more, well, I get that. But I for one feel better for knowing that getting involved matters. A lot of us are struggling right now, but you can sign the petition for free. Lots and lots of us have been donating a fiver. Bigger brands and names have stepped up and I’d love to name check Trinny Woodall here. We have met Trinny personally here at His & Hers in the past, and we adore her. Her Trinny London brand is doing brilliantly, but it’s still a growing concern. The lady herself just donated £25,000. She’s definitely wearing her heart on her tailored sleeve.
Just remember that when all of those events and occasions come knocking once more, we will all need the beauty industry we have come to know and love. The best way to ensure its survival is by doing our bit: anything from a signature to doing a Trinny matters equally.
Well done to Caroline Hirons for starting the ball rolling. Having a mother and grandmother who both worked in beauty, in her home city of, you guessed it, Liverpool, she’s not one to pull her punches when it comes to talking aloud about this industry she clearly adores and supports.
Beauty Backed needs your help. Get signing and, if you can, make a donation.
And perhaps I need to follow my own advice: I’ve just looked at my feet. I pity the 1 in 600,000 who has to sort them out.
About the author: Nancy Buckland Kirk is a writer with a keen interest in fashion and beauty and a career which has spanned modelling, teaching and spreading the word about leading beauty brands. You may also enjoy: Nancy Buckland Kirk on why, in the world of fashion and beyond, change is not just going to come, it needs to come