Health and safety in the beauty industry

How to maintain responsible health and safety standards in health and beauty settings.

Health and safety in beauty

Health managers say improper sunbed use can cause skin cancer.  Malignant melanoma is one of the five most common cancers in 15-24 year olds in England and Wales. If used once a month or more, sunbeds increase the risk of skin cancer by more than half. Recent statistics published by Cancer Research UK show that malignant melanoma incident rates have more than quadrupled over the last 30 years.

Nail technicians have a higher than average risk of developing work-related dermatitis and work-related asthma from nail dust. Dermatitis is difficult to recover from fully once developed and can lead to technicians having to find alternative employment.

There has been an enormous growth in demand for laser treatments for the removal of hair, birthmarks and tattoos, treating red veins, acne, scars and skin lesions. Used wrongly, lasers can cause skin burns, eyesight damage and even fires.

Fish pedicures are one of the fastest growing industries with over 250 opening up across the country in one year. The Health Protection Agency have stated that there is a risk of bacterial and viral infections to users, but this is low, as long as good controls are in place.

Sunbed safety

The Health and Safety Team have recently sent advisory letters [PDF 33kb] to premises that the team believe are operating sunbeds. 

The Department of Health have also issued guidance on the use of sunbeds.  

Prevent dermatitis 

What is dermatitis?

Dermatitis can be caused by the skin coming into contact with:

  • chemicals, like shampoos and cleaning products
  • frequent contact with water - more than 2 hours a day

Signs can be redness, itching, scaling and blistering. If it gets worse the skin can crack and bleed. Hands and arms are most commonly affected but dermatitis can spread to other parts the body.

It can be bad enough to keep you off work and serious enough to force you to change jobs. If it is spotted early and adequate precautions are taken, most people will make a full recovery. But some people can be affected for life.

Look after your hands in the kitchen

The number of new cases of dermatitis among catering staff is twice the average of other industries. That's why Brighton & Hove City Council are teaming up with the Health and Safety Executive to provide information and advice to businesess.

The key messages are to:

  • avoid direct contact with cleaning products and water where possible and sensible
  • protect the skin by using non-latex gloves, especially when cleaning. Use a moisturiser on the skin often to replace the natural oils that help keep the skin's protective barrier working properly
  • check hands for the first signs of dermatitis - itchy, red or dry skin. Early treatment can stop it from getting too bad

Visit the HSE webpages on work-related dermatitis for a range of free information and leaflets.

Contact us

For more information about health and safety contact the Health and Safety Team: