Hamilton Fraser annual survey reveals insights into aesthetic industry trends


Each year, Hamilton Fraser carries out an annual survey, providing aesthetic practitioners with a platform to share their insights. The survey helps us tailor our service to make sure that practitioners continue to receive high quality support, advice and guidance, as well as enabling us to identify trend sand share the results with the wider community.

We are grateful to all the practitioners who took the time to respond to our questions, which ranged from motivations for entering the field of aesthetics and the most common treatments you encounter to how you manage claims and complications and training and development. We hope you enjoy reading the results.

Survey demographics

The survey garnered insights from more than 300 practitioners based across the UK and Ireland.

Respondents were fairly evenly spread in terms of where they operate from, with the highest percentage (17%) being based in London, followed by the North West (12%), South East (11%), North East (10%) and Yorkshire and The Humber (9.5%).

Nurses made up the largest group of respondents (43.5%), followed by doctors/cosmetic doctors(22.5%), dentists (13.1%), dental therapists (2.6%) and plastic surgeons(2.6%). 74.8% were female and 24.8% were male.

Hamilton Fraser annual survey reveals insights into aesthetic industry trends

Interestingly, 74.5% said they had completed an accredited prescribing course and registered their qualification with their regulatory body, while 12.4% said they worked alongside a qualified prescriber. Of the remaining respondents, 10.1% said they intended to get a prescribing qualification, and 2.9% said they didn’t perform procedures that required them to prescribe.

The majority were in the 41-50 age group (26.8%), closely followed by those aged between 31-40(26.1%) and those aged between 51-60 (18%). Those under 30 comprised 16.6%, and12.4% were over 60.

Some respondents had been practising aesthetics for more than 20 years (8.5%), with22.2% practising for 10-20 years, 20.9% for six to 10 years, and 19.9% for four to five years.

In terms of those newer to the sector, the survey showed that 21.9% had been practising for one to three years and 6.5% for less than one year.

Most practitioners worked solo, with 55.2% saying they worked alone. 19.9% said they worked alongside a nurse, while 5.9% said they worked with a doctor. The same number said they worked with a plastic surgeon, and the same number again with a beauty therapist. 4.6% said they worked with a dentist.

34% of those who answered the survey owned their own premises, while 27.5% worked from a clinic within their home. A further 20.9% practised from someone else’s clinic, while 16% operated from a beauty salon, and 11.8% were mobile. 8.2% were based within a private hospital.

An attractive prospect

In terms of motivation for moving into aesthetics, many practitioners waited a number of years after qualifying before choosing to work in the sector.

When asked how long they had been qualified in their profession before they started practising aesthetics, 25.5% said it was more than 10 years, 16.3% said it was six to 10 years, and 13.7% said four to five years. Only 4.6% said they had been qualified for less than a year before branching into aesthetics.

Many practitioners stated they still worked for the NHS (50.7%) or in other jobs and did aesthetics part-time, with 69.6% saying aesthetics was not their main source of income.

Hamilton Fraser annual survey reveals insights into aesthetic industry trends

Of those who had left the NHS, 24.8% said they would not consider returning, citing factors such as work-life balance, antisocial hours, lack of flexibility and stress.

Interest in non-surgical cosmetic treatments was cited as the main reason for moving into aesthetics, with 59.8% giving this as the top answer. A new challenge and flexible working hours were the next biggest motivators, with 53.9% and 53.3%saying this was what drew them to the field.

Job satisfaction also came in high, with more than half (50.3%) stating this as their reason. Financial reasons were listed by 32%.

 When asked if their motivations for joining the industry had been met, 33.3% said “completely” and 52.9% answered “mostly”.

Some of the reasons given for motivations having been met included:

  • Giving people back their confidence
  • Helping people feel better about themselves
  • New treatments coming onto the market
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Greater flexibility
  • Growing market demand
  • Diverse employment opportunities
  • Continuous learning and development
  • Entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Less stressful than their NHS job

Some of the reasons the sector didn’t meet expectations included:

  • Too much competition by unqualified people
  • Being more difficult to get clients than expected
  • The stress of keeping up with social media
  • Not making enough money to justify leaving the NHS

Treatment trends

Hamilton Fraser annual survey reveals insights into aesthetic industry trends

When asked what treatments they provided, unsurprisingly, it was injectables that topped the poll, with 79.7% of respondents naming botulinum toxin as a treatment they offered and 76.1% saying they performed dermal fillers.

Skincare ranked next, with 56.9% saying they offered it and 47.1% saying they performed chemical peels.

Microneedling was offered by 36.3%, with mesotherapy being named as a treatment by 34.3%.

17% said they offered light-based device technology such as IPL, LED and laser, while 15%cited radiofrequency as being on their treatment menu. But, as many as 61.1%said they didn’t use any technology at all in their clinic.

Weight loss injections were offered by 13.4% and body contouring procedures (including cryotherapy) by 15.6%.

26.5% said they used tech to diagnose skin conditions, while 20.3% said they used 3Dimaging. AI was used by 18.3%.

In terms of the treatments most commonly requested by patients, the top choice was treatments to counter the signs of ageing. There was also a fairly high demand for skincare solutions, followed by preventative ageing treatments. Treatments for menopause symptoms were an area where there was currently a lower demand but growing popularity.

In terms of trends, the greatest interest was in aesthetic regenerative procedures, with 64.1% stating this was an area they were interested in. 'Prejuvenation' (treating younger patients with preventative treatments) was also popular, with 58.2% of those who responded citing it as a top trend.

Practitioners were also excited about new applications for RF microneedling (43.1%) and weight loss injections (34.6%).

Complications and complaints

Reassuringly, 80.7% of those who took part in the poll said their patients had never experienced an infection following a treatment. 19% said this had happened once or twice, and only 0.3% admitted to infections occurring more than twice.

Hamilton Fraser annual survey reveals insights into aesthetic industry trends

Infection control strategies were widely used, with skin disinfection (93.8%), hand hygiene/glove usage (92.5%), environmental disinfection (89.9%) and aseptic technique (84%) being named as the top practices.

In terms of identifying red flags and saying no to patients whom they deemed unsuitable for treatment, the majority had done so on more than one occasion, with 30.7% saying they had turned a patient away once or twice, 30.7% saying they had said no to treating unsuitable patients at least three times and 24.8% saying they had said no to treating unsuitable patients more than three times. Only 13.7% said they had never turned a patient away.

Hamilton Fraser annual survey reveals insights into aesthetic industry trends

When asked if they had ever regretted treating a patient, it was almost a 50/50 split, with 48% saying “yes” and 52% saying “no”. Of those who answered “yes”, the main reason given was that they felt the patient had unrealistic expectations of treatment. Practitioners also stated body dysmorphia, patients wanting treatments for low costs, difficult or demanding patients and gut feelings as other reasons to say “no”.

Encouragingly, 91.5% said they were routinely looking out for patients displaying any mental health problems, in particular, body dysmorphia, with questionnaires and screening during consultation being the main methods of analysis.

Hamilton Fraser annual survey reveals insights into aesthetic industry trends


Optimistic for the future: Plans for growth and expansion

Despite the current economic climate, many of the survey respondents said they had plans to expand their businesses, and the majority said they felt “fairly optimistic” (51.6%) or “optimistic” (36.3%) about their business prospects in 2024, with 80.1% saying they were on track to meet their objectives.

Hamilton Fraser annual survey reveals insights into aesthetic industry trends

Of the 52% of people who had a business plan, 70.4% said it had changed from the previous year due to business growth, expansion, moving premises and increased economic benefits.

Interestingly, others said they had changed their business plans due to moving direction, with a move towards wellness being cited as one new avenue for business.

Only 30.1% said they had received funding for their business, and of those, the majority had used personal savings (46.7%). Bank loans made up 31.5%, followed by borrowing money from family and friends at 26.1%. A total of 18.5% said they had used angel investors, while 13% had used crowdfunding and the same number for venture capital. 12% had accessed a small business administration loan, and 10.9% had used a credit card or overdraft to fund their business.

Summing up the results of this year’s survey, Eddie Hooker, Founder and CEO of Hamilton Fraser, said:

Our annual survey sheds light on the evolving landscape of aesthetics and serves as a compass for us as we evolve with the industry, by making sure that our services safeguard practitioners, their patients, and the integrity of the care they provide.

Highlights of this year’s survey for me included the growing demand for regenerative procedures and preventative treatments, and we are committed to tailoring insurance solutions that align with these emerging trends.

The insights into how practitioners are operating their businesses, their motivations and the industry dynamics at play also provide us with valuable insights to enhance our support for the aesthetic community, especially when it comes to our event, the Aesthetics Business Conference (ABC).

We have a long history of working closely with the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP), and so I was pleased to see that the survey results reflected a commitment to patient safety, with 80.7% reporting no post-treatment infections and practitioners turning away unsuitable patients based on criteria like body dysmorphia and unrealistic expectations.

As the Founder and CEO of Hamilton Fraser, I am also pleased to see that 91.5% of practitioners are actively monitoring for mental health issues, emphasising our collective responsibility for holistic care.

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