Why Black Women Struggle to Find Salons on the High Street

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70% of British Black women feel let down by high-street beauty retailers and salons, because only 1% of the 35,000 UK salons cater for textured and afro hair says a recent survey by Afrodrops

The alarming findings of the lack of salons for black women were uncovered by Afrodrops – a 100% black-owned retailer founded by father of two Luke. Inspired by his two children, the online retailer exists to make afro hair products more accessible and to help people with curly and afro hair textures better understand what products they need.  Here they share their recent findings with Black Beauty & Hair.

Photo by Anna Shvets/Pexels

“70% of British black women still feel let down by high-street beauty retailers and salons,” explains Luke. “If you’ve textured or afro hair, you’ll know just how challenging it is to find a salon that can readily accommodate our hair textures – particularly if you’re outside of London. It’s almost impossible to find salons across the UK that can offer a level of service equal to that offered to those with European hair.”

Let’s take a closer look at regional salons across England

We’ve leveraged datasets from several officially recognised and comprehensive sources; namely the latest Office for National Statistics data on salons, regional ethnicity census data and supplementary data from Treatwell (one of the largest directories and booking platforms with over 40,000 salon partners).

This dataset has allowed us to create an eye-opening report that enables us to get understand which regions across England are the most (and least) accommodating when it comes to styling and cutting afro and textured hair.

Here’s a summary of the numbers and insights:

North East

The North East region has 1905 salons and 35,927 black and mixed-raced black residents; Statistically the North East has the smallest percentage of black and black mixed residents compared to any other region of the UK at just 1.4%.

According to Treatwell data, only 0.16% of all salons in the region are skilled and comfortable to take on clients that have afro and textured hair.

North West

The North West has 5040 salons and 253,334 black and black mixed-race black residents making up 3% of the region’s population.

According to Treatwell data, only 0.5% of salons in the North West can accommodate people with afro and textured hair.

Yorkshire and Humberside

Yorkshire and Humberside have 3415 salons and 203,252 black and mixed black residents making up 4% of the region’s population.

According to Treatwell data, only 0.35% of salons in this region can accommodate people with afro and textured hair

East Midlands

The East Midlands has 2785 salons and 212,186 black and mixed black residents making up 5% of the region’s population.

According to Treatwell, only 0.11% of salons are openly accepting customers who’ve afro textured hair.

West Midlands

The West Midlands has 3550 salons and 442,015 black and mixed black residents making up 8% of the region’s population.

0.2% of salons in the West Midlands are readily accepting customers who’ve afro textured hair.

Photo by Ogo/Pexels

East of England

The East of England has 3,580 salons and 287,494 black and mixed black residents that makeup 5% of the region’s population.

Treatwell data implies that 0.4% of salons can openly accommodate afro hair; making the East of England the most likely place to find an afro hair professional outside of London.


London has 6,100 salons and 2,362,184 black and mixed black residents making up 29% of the region’s population.

London has 171 salons according to Treatwell that are readily accepting customers who’ve afro and textured hair. Additionally, it means that of all the salons across the region, 2.5% of them can accommodate people with afro and textured hair – the highest in the UK.

South East

The South East region has 4,945 salons and 340,831 black and mixed black residents making up 4% of the region’s population.

In the South East 0.34% of salons can accommodate people with afro and textured hair.

South West

The South West region has 2,985 salons and 133,171 black and mixed black residents making up 2.5% of the region’s population.

0.16 of salons in The South West are readily accepting customers who have afro and textured hair.

The UK black hair industry is worth an estimated £88 million, with black women spending on average 3x more than white women on hair care.

More so, black women make up 80% of the total UK hair product sales in the UK and spend 6x more on cosmetics than any other ethnicity group.

So why is the industry so content and at ease with missing out on this growing market opportunity? You can’t help but feel this is simply inequality in its rawest form

According to an independent study by Habia, of the 35,000 registered hair salons in the UK, only 302 cater for afro and natural hair. That’s less than 1%. With more than 2m Black UK residents, there’s a huge problem here.

In a previous review of the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for hairdressing, it was found that many of the qualifications did not require students to learn how to cut and style afro and textured hair, further adding to the resulting major gap in professional expertise in the UK.

Fortunately, progress has been made and new NOS guidelines published in June 2021 have been revised to now accommodate natural and textured hair types; making it compulsory for all UK hairdressers to learn how to style and cut afro hair.

Although progress has been made in some areas, it’s clear that there’s still a tremendous journey ahead of us before the UK properly accommodates textured and afro hair in salons.

A conversation with an employee at a local salon specialising in European hair told our researcher that her training did include a module on curly hair, but admitted it was only for looser curl patterns. At least now, you’re better equipped to understand what regions across the UK are best (and worst) for finding a salon that can do your tresses justice!









1 Comment

  1. by Erkkie Harris-Wells on 29/09/2022  11:27 PM Reply

    I am an American hairdresser and a trichologist that used to run 2 salons in the West End of London. It all comes down to the licensed and trained individuals along with what school they went to. Many salons have people that have never gone to school working in salons and they are trained under an apprenticeship program.

    I am a black woman having to train an all-white staff on different hair types. They had no concept of textures and when one is trained properly they would have had a better and more capable way of servicing non-white clients. Teaching all students that hair is just different forms of fabrics/textures, like you have wool, cotton, silk, satin, linen, and so on and so forth, so I removed the ethnic barrier and taught my staff how to work on all of these different types of 'fabrics' using the best and safest methods.

    Once they were shown what to do and how to achieve the end result they realized that it was all down to the fear of not knowing and not being properly trained. My white staff never turned down anyone because what they came to realize is that I allowed them to be creative and make money serving a clientele that they had no knowledge of and that it would propel them to become great hairdressers and this is defined as I can do anyone that walks through my door with hair on their heads because all money is the same no matter who is paying.

    We had a very lucrative salon and happy staff of gifted hairdressers. Who knows, maybe I will return to London and pick up the torch again but if not please share this with your readers – find gifted hairdressers of every race that walk,talk sleep and eat hair and love to work on everybody and then you will find yourself a great HIGH ROAD salon business. The people are there, so don't be afraid to service all humans for you are the professional and that is all people are looking for, so, ask yourself are you one of those people and if you cannot say yes I will encourage you to find hair training that will guide you along the path of being a great hairdresser that can do anyone with any type of hair texture for no one should ever be turned away because of their color.

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