Lesley Blair, CEO of British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC) and the Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (CIBTAC) has been awarded an MBE for services to the British beauty industry in the Queen’s Birthday 2022 Honours List.
Lesley is receiving this honour for being an outstanding ambassador for the beauty sector. Throughout her career, Lesley has led the call for self-regulation in the UK, and focussed on ensuring that students are informed on how to recognise the importance of fit for purpose qualifications, as well as promoting responsible therapists and businesses in the sector. Her work to launch the Make Beauty Safe initiative focussed on bringing more accountability to the currently unregulated UK beauty industry and campaigning government to introduce legislation that would prevent untrained individuals from establishing themselves as seemingly professional therapists.
During the pandemic in particular her passionate commitment to the beauty industry and her unstinting loyalty to her colleagues working across the industry, was clearly evident. Throughout that challenging period, Lesley was a trusted sectoral adviser for the Government, providing insight into the workings of the sector and offering innovative and creative solutions in the face of continued challenges and obstacles. Her determination and tenacious approach helped to ensure that officials were well placed to make successful interventions in a timely manner. Lesley consistently went the extra mile – her resourcefulness and resolve to secure a responsible and safe reopening of the sector was a credit to the industry that she so diligently represents.
As a direct result, Lesley was also appointed to sit on the first recognised Sector Body for Personal Care Services within government on behalf of BABTAC, and also worked concurrently with the Scottish Government contributing to the First Minister’s decision to make £19 million available to support close contact businesses that were affected by the Omicron restrictions. She went on to help target the funds to those most impacted, including self-employed individuals that do not have premises.
Post-pandemic she continues to represent the industry at Government level and tirelessly advocates on important current matters affecting the sector. She has appeared regularly on the news and radio to share her expertise on the challenges the industry has faced and continues to face.
Lesley has been on the BABTAC Board for over ten years and also been a CIBTAC examiner for over 25 years. As well as her responsibilities as CEO and as the representative on the newly formed sector body for personal care services in government, she also sits on the Cosmetics Informed and Empowered Public Sub-Group (part of the Scottish Government’s Interventions Expert Group) and the JCCP Register & Stakeholder Group & JCCP Stakeholder Council Steering Group. Lesley also contributes to the Aesthetics APPG, Hair & Cosmetology APPG’s, & Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery APPG, as well as the Advisory Panel of The Safety in Beauty Campaign and the HABIC Executive Council (Ireland). After a personal nomination from founder Caroline Hirons, she is also a Trustee on the Beauty Backed Trust, and was part of the steering group of the advanced qualifications NOS (Level 4 – 6).
On being named in this year’s awards list, Lesley said, “Since becoming CEO of BABTAC and CIBTAC, my main objective has been to ensure that our organisations lead by example and the beauty industry as a whole continually strives to raise the standard of education and professionalism while ensuring our sector is also recognised for the value it brings to our economy. I am so honoured to have been awarded by her Majesty in this year’s Birthday Honours List for something I am so passionate about. I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively both in and outside our industry to highlight the full worth of our sector and the urgent need for further regulation and legislation, together with standardisation of fit for purpose qualifications. Protecting the ethical, qualified and professional salons and therapists in our sector with the ultimate objective of ensuring consumer safety and wellbeing remains my ultimate goal.”
Of her nomination, her peers added:
“I worked with Lesley Blair, Chair of BABTAC throughout the Covid-19 crisis and as an industry colleague and fellow member of the government task force she has been an impressive asset to the British beauty industry. She is most deserving of this honour.” – Millie Kendall OBE, CEO of the British Beauty Council.
“Lesley has enabled members of the public to gain a voice in determining their own futures and has united agencies to argue for improvements in education and training, insurance and safety.” – Professor David Sines CBE, Emeritus Professor and Registrar/Executive Chair of the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners Faculty Society & Health.