A Guide To Being A Self-Employed Hairdresser

To be a hairdresser in the UK, you’ll need an NVQ Level 2. It takes approximately 18 months to complete this course before you can start work as a junior stylist. At no point during this…

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Last Updated: 5th April 2023

To be a hairdresser in the UK, you’ll need an NVQ Level 2. It takes approximately 18 months to complete this course before you can start work as a junior stylist. At no point during this training will the financial aspect of self-employment be taught in depth.

There may be some explanation of your career options, including working for yourself, renting a chair or becoming an employee. But, for the most part, you’ll have to learn about the benefits and responsibilities of self-employment while on the job.

Finding your feet financially takes time and, when it comes to fulfilling your tax obligations, you may find it difficult if you’re not clued up.


It’s simple: register yourself as self-employed with HMRC using their online portal. The process is fairly quick, but it will require certain key information. This includes:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • National Insurance number
  • Self-employment start date
  • Nature of work

HMRC will then send a confirmation of your registration and will provide you with your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number. This will come in the post and can take up to 14 days to arrive. Be conscious of this if you are approaching your Self Assessment tax return filing deadline (if you’re registering later than 20th December, for example) as not having your UTR to hand may result in you missing the tax return filing date of 31st January and having to pay a penalty.

In addition, your UTR will now be included on any correspondence you receive from HMRC and will be requested should you seek any telephone or online support.


This depends somewhat on whether you are salon-based or mobile. If you’re working from a salon, you may have access to some of the supplies even if you’re just renting a chair. That being said, there are some basic essentials that all successful hairdressers must have. These are:

  • Brushes – Be sure to invest in small and large barrel brushes, a paddle brush and a vent brush. All are necessary for a long-lasting blow dry.
  • Comb – A basic comb for the purposes of sectioning during a cut, and positioning hair prior to a cut.
  • Hairdryer – You’ll use this every day so choose the most practical salon-standard dryer available.
  • Gown – If you’re renting a chair, it may be that gowns are branded and subsequently come as part of your arrangement. Be sure to check before you invest in one.
  • Rollers (and curlers) – To assist you in creating certain styles and add volume.
  • Scissors – As you specialise, more specific scissors may be required. Initially though, a high-quality standard pair will serve you well.
  • Shampoo – Get a variation to cater to individual hair types. In some instances, it pays to check with your clients beforehand in case they have any particular preferences.
  • Straighteners – Straightens hair and acts as an alternative to tongs when creating styles with curls and loose waves.
  • Towels – Spend more on the towels to ensure they’re comfortable. Be sure to have a number of them for each appointment as well, as most clients will use two.

We appreciate that, alongside education, the above sounds like a big investment to make in order to start work as a self-employed hairdresser. Fortunately, the cost of these items can be used to reduce your self-employed tax bill.


Yes, hairdressers can claim on tools and supplies. This extends to sinks, mirrors and styling chairs, as well as the chair rental costs if you’re salon-based. What’s more, hairdressers can claim on a number of additional expenses outside of the starter kit we mentioned above.

If you want to expand your skill set, trade magazines are recognised as a legitimate business expense. Likewise, any travel you undertake to visit each of your clients can be claimed on. Specifically, you can claim business mileage at a rate of 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles in a year, then 25p thereafter. However, if you are salon-based, travel from home to the salon unfortunately cannot be claimed (as this is seen to be normal commuting).

All that’s required of you is to keep a hold of the receipts and a mileage log, and use these to make an accurate report to HMRC through your Self Assessment tax return.


If you’re self-employed and earning more than £1,000, you will need to file a Self Assessment tax return. Of course, you won’t pay any Income Tax until you earn over your Personal Allowance, which currently stands at £12,570. After that, basic-rate, additional-rate and higher-rate taxes apply. See our guide on tax bands for more information.

Provided you registered for Self Assessment shortly after starting your self-employment, you’ll have all the information you need to submit a complete tax return.

It’s important to remember that you don’t need to wait until January to file. Filing a Self Assessment tax return early doesn’t mean that you need to pay your tax bill straight away. In fact, it will tell you what your tax bill is ahead of paying – meaning that you can have a better understanding of your finances in the coming year.


Upon submission of your Self Assessment tax return, you’ll be able to pay your tax bill through the HMRC portal, by post, or by BACS from your bank account.

The benefit of using software is that the entire tax return submission process is handled for you. Income and expenditure is logged in real time, estimating your tax bill as soon as you input new information and providing a clear overview of your finances throughout the year.


Our tax return software is the perfect tool for hairdressers seeking accounting support. After 18 months of training, we believe stylists deserve more than basic financial advice. That’s why, with our free trial, you can start building a clear picture of your tax position right away.

When you upgrade to our full service, all the receipts from the tools and supplies you purchased can be uploaded to our platform. No more invoices, no more bank statement print-outs – just easy-to-submit information, available at your fingertips.

Sound good? Sign up today and let us help you take your hairdressing venture to new heights.

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Blog content is for information purposes and over time may become outdated, although we do strive to keep it current. It's written to help you understand your Tax's and is not to be relied upon as professional accounting, tax and legal advice due to differences in everyone's circumstances. For additional help please contact our support team or HMRC.

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