Only the Cream will Stay Afloat!

It may be safe to say that tough times are in store for the nations beauty salons and skincare counters. Just when we thought the industry could breathe a sigh of satisfied smugness too! Business has been booming for some time increasing numbers of salons seemed to be opening on the nations high streets and is it any surprise?

Today's celebrity- obsessed culture has given rise to the increase in popularity of magazines portraying the lives of the rich and famous. As we admire the air brushed perfection of the stars its bound to make us want to make the most of our looks too. Never before have we been so obsessed with our appearance and never before has there been the proliferation of treatments available on the market that there are today.

More people than ever have been making it part of their regular routine to make sure they're buffed to perfection, tanned to a rich celebrity hue and waxed within an inch of their lives, and let's not forget the talons to match!

Certainly where I live in Essex, (which should be renamed California given the extent of fake tan and bleached hair extensions!), you will never see as many WAG wannabe's and none of these would be seen dead without their high maintenance grooming (no wonder they need a footballer to pay for it all!). In fact grooming has been so 'in' around here that even the dogs have been getting it! Yet despite all this, it looks as if the tide is about to turn on the fortunes of the beauty business.

This industry is much like any other, especially those which are consumer orientated. Its fortunes can be subject to many of the same factors which can affect other types of businesses. Generally, for the last few years the market has grown steadily on an even keel but I wouldn't be surprised if we see a dramatic change ahead. Just last week I saw two salons that had closed down on the same high street. I don't recall having seen the sad signs of a beauty businesses having gone bust before certainly not two in the same street in the same year. But just what is causing all this commotion?

Firstly we may be about to face what everyone seems to be talking about lately. The dreaded R word. That's right - recession. The beauty industry is unfortunately subject to consumer spending power if you are finding it hard to meet the mortgage, sacrifices have to be made. Beauty treatments fall under what's known as discretionary spend in that we don't actually need them. Well those that we really do need we can, if we are really desperate, do ourselves at home. So it's reasonable therefore to expect when times are hard and cut backs have to be made, that luxuries like trips to the beauty parlour that will have to be reduced. And these times are certainly getting tough have you seen the price of petrol lately? But sadly not all of us have the option to cut back on car fuel (not unless chip fat really does become an option!).

Another massive blow currently being faced by the beauty profession is the onset of the aesthetics business. Botox is everywhere! Even the dentists are doing it. And those girls who went to the beauty salon all in the hope that it would make them look better are spending their money elsewhere.

But nobody believes the hype in traditional skincare treatments and products anymore! Consumers are becoming increasingly educated in what creams can and cannot do, thanks to the power of the media. If you really want to get rid of those wrinkles, you get botox. Why spend over a hundred pounds on premium skincare or a treatment using such skincare that promises the earth and live in hope that it will, when you can spend not much more on an injection that will obliterate any sign of any wrinkle you could possibly have almost instantly? Botox and other aesthetic treatments are a threat to the industry just go into your local beauty salon where this treatment is not available and watch the proprietor's reaction when you say that naughty word 'botox'!

Just how the beauty industry will react to these challenges remains to be seen. Many salons are allowing aesthetic practitioners to operate in their salons, mindful of the fact that if they don't work alongside such people, other salons will. But how can they fight against tougher economic conditions? There may well be some salons which fail to survive altogether. Those who want to remain in the market are going to have to think very hard about how they are going to weather the storm ahead.

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