Afro Hair Closer to Being Compulsory for Hairdressing Students

All hairdressing students will be taught to cut and style afro hair

The British Beauty Council applauds new hairdressing standards that puts afro hair on the curriculum agenda to meet the needs of the UK’s diverse community

Afro and textured hair have now been included into one cutting and styling practice standard for all hair types in the recent review of the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for hairdressing.

Gap in professional knowledge and hairdressing services

Many current qualifications have no compulsory requirement for students studying hairdressing to be educated on cutting and styling afro and textured hair. This leaves a significant gap in professional knowledge and hairdressing services, leaving this demographic largely uncatered for. The new National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Hairdressing published in June now “meet the needs of the UK’s diverse community in one standard”. The NOS are just the first stage in this long overdue change, the next step is for awarding organisations (AO) to review their qualifications and align the curriculum content with the new inclusive NOS. 

British Beauty Council pushes for change

The British Beauty Council, alongside other professional hairdressing bodies, has been instrumental in pushing for the change. Two years ago, it set up a taskforce in conjunction with the Hair & Beauty Industry Authority (Habia) to support the revised National Occupational Standards, which form the nationally recognised practice standards of the job role and the basis of many competency qualifications across the UK.

Commenting on the new standards, Helena Grzesk, chief operating officer at The British Beauty Council says she is delighted that the new NOS for hairdressing finally embed all hair types, including wavy, curly and coily in one standard.

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Inclusive hairdressing industry

Helena adds: “We share Habia’s belief that the hair and beauty industry can and should be truly inclusive, but until now, tens of thousands of hairdressers have no qualifications in cutting and styling afro and textured hair. We have supported the industry and Habia, ever since we launched in 2018, for the standards to reflect and represent the diverse range of hair types and textures of clients across the hair and beauty sector. Our aim is to amplify and celebrate the voices of all the communities the industry serves to ensure each and every one of us feels seen, heard, valued and excited to engage with the beauty industry. We are naturally delighted that the new standards have now been approved.”

The NOS standards have been updated by employers to ensure they reflect current technical developments and meet the needs of the UK’s diverse community. They are not just specific to hairdressing – they cover beauty therapy, nails, aesthetics, wellbeing and holistic therapies – and they can now be used as a basis for many of the sector qualifications taught. The key changes include a focus on ensuring salons, spas, therapists and stylists take an inclusive approach to who they treat and how they treat them, in terms of race, gender, physical and mental health conditions, looking at the person rather than the identity. 

Afro and textured hair is now embedded, with all hair types, within one national practice standard and going forward will just be part of what hairdressers do.

Joan Scott, chair of Habia

Joan Scott, chair of Habia says: “The change to the standards is not just about hair – it is about having the knowledge to treat anybody that walks through the door be it with life issues, disability or hair style. But cutting and styling different hair types was such a key part of the review. Afro and textured hair is now embedded, with all hair types, within one national practice standard and going forward will just be part of what hairdressers do. The next step is for the awarding organisations to pick up that baton and include it in all their qualifications.”

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