Beauty therapy is a great option for the self-employed, freelance route, and with good reason. It allows flexible hours, flexible pay rates, and plenty of opportunity for development and progression. 

But, before you get started beautifying the whole world, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. Namely:

  • Training and qualifications
  • Insurance
  • Marketing
  • Freelance sites
  • Location
  • Managing finances

Training and qualifications

To become a qualified beauty therapist, you’ll need to complete an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) at level 2 and level 3. Courses can be taken online, in beauty schools and colleges, or through apprenticeships. 

Bear in mind, it’s usually recommended that you work in a salon for several years before working on a self-employed basis. 

Most Salons will accept trainee beauty therapists with a level 2 NVQ and support their learning and development as they complete their level 3. 

The Level 2 NVQ course involves these modules:

  • Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Beauty Techniques
  • Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Beauty Therapy Services
  • Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Hair and Beauty Services
  • Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Beauty Salon Reception

The level 3 NVQ course involves these modules

  • Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Beauty Therapy (choosing between make up, nails, and spa treatment)
  • Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Advanced Beauty Therapy
  • Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Therapy Treatments

You can also keep studying for official qualifications after you’re fully qualified, but it’s worth noting that, as most beauty therapists will tell you, training never really stops. 

Beauty technology is constantly evolving, and with that comes all kinds of new treatment options and techniques. 

Techniques like hydrafacials, CBD facials, microdermabrasion, and fat freezing, are all fairly new treatment options brought about by continued research and development. 

You don’t need to know everything, but you should definitely stay up to date with new techniques and trends in your chosen field. 


When it comes to marketing yourself as a self-employed Beauty Therapist, the most common, and cheapest option, is to create your own social media channel. 

Social media allows you to have that personal touch that will help build your brand while interacting directly with audiences. Plus, it’s free!

Because Beauty Therapy is a cosmetic industry, image-based platforms like Instagram and Facebook are the most popular choices. You can show before and after shots, promote products, and give live updates about your business. 

Alternatively, if you feel like doing something more dynamic, you could start a channel on video based platforms like TikTok and Youtube. This is great if you’d like to do tutorial videos, or interview happy customers. 

Finally, you could go all out and build your own website. This might sound daunting, but it’s a lot easier thanks to modern CMS (Content Management System) software. 

Sites like Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress are fairly cheap and user friendly. 


As a self-employed beauty therapist, you have the option of being mobile (meeting customers at their homes), or setting up in a beauty salon.

Both have their pros and cons. 

Mobile beauty therapists have increased scope, as they can meet customers wherever they are. The downside is you’ll have to work in unfamiliar environments, spend money on travel, and safely transport all of your equipment to each location. 

Alternatively, a lot of beauty therapists actually hire private rooms in beauty salons. You’ll still work for yourself, you’re just using the building. The advantage is that you’ll have a fixed location, so you’ll be more accessible to local customers. You’ll also be exposed to regular customers and other beauty therapists, so you’ll probably have more opportunities to learn and get new contacts. 

On the other hand, you’ll be limited in scope. And your reputation will be tied to the beauty salon as a whole, even though you don’t work for them. Also, some salons might be different, but most of them ask you to bring your own equipment. 

Freelance sites

When it comes to self-employment, lots of people find work on freelance websites to advertise their services and find customers. 

Sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and Gumtree are a perfectly acceptable place to advertise for any freelancer. But you should also check out some industry specific websites for Beauty Therapy like and


In terms of hardware (actual beauty therapy equipment), the tools you need will vary a lot depending on what kind of treatment you offer, and whether you are mobile or working from a salon. 

When it comes to software, there are a few essential tools that can help anybody who is self employed:

  • CMS software – Like we mentioned up top, a content management system (CMS) will help you easily build and manage your own website. For more information about CMS software, check out our article.  
  • Scheduling software – Fairly self-explanatory, scheduling software will help you organise your appointments. 
  • Accounting software – A great option for anybody who is self-employed. Accounting software will keep your business finances separate from your personal finances, track your income and expenses, and automatically categorise different kinds of transactions. 


Being self-employed, there are a few insurance policies that you should consider buying. The most common kinds of insurance you might want are:

  • Public liability insurance – This will compensate you if a client, or other non-employee, takes legal action against any harm caused by your work.
  • Contents and equipment cover – This will cover the cost of repairing and replacing damaged equipment.
  • Employer’s liability insurance – This is legally required if you have any employees. It will cover the compensation costs if an employee becomes ill or injured because of working for you. 

A lot of insurance companies actually offer tailor made self-employed insurance policies so you can pick and choose the exact kind of cover you want. 

Some companies like Superscript and Professional Beauty Direct even specialise in beauty therapy insurance policies. They can offer you specific cover that will be relevant to beauty therapy. 

Managing finances

Being self-employed means taking care of your own taxes. You’ll be responsible for paying:

  • Income tax 
  • National Insurance
  • VAT (Value Added Tax) – if your annual turnover is over £85,000

Income tax and national insurance can be paid by completing a Self Assessment tax return. And you can register for VAT with HMRC online or through the post.

If you’re a limited company, you won’t have to pay income tax or national insurance (unless you’re also employing yourself). Instead, you pay corporation tax, a flat rate of 19% on all your taxable profits. 

Keep track of your finances with Countingup

When you’re starting your own business, it’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate from day one – to save yourself from time-consuming admin headaches further down the line. 

The Countingup business current account makes it easy to manage all your financial data in one simple app. The app comes with free built-in accounting software that automates the time-consuming aspects of bookkeeping and taxes. 

You’ll receive real-time insights into your cash flow, profit and loss reports, tax estimates, and the ability to create invoices in seconds. Find out more here.