Government launches aesthetics consumer safety campaign

The latest development in the long-running aesthetic procedure regulation debate is a consumer-focused campaign from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). 

The DHSC has produced a “cut out and keep” flyer of cosmetic procedure top tips and has funded information advertorials in consumer magazine including Heat, Grazia and Closer in a bid to encourage the public to take aesthetic procedures seriously and conduct thorough research before undertaking a treatment. 

Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price explained the reasons behind the campaign: “Many people don’t think fully about the consequences – both physical and mental – of having a cosmetic procedure. These are serious treatments, and you should think carefully before you leap in.

“I’m particularly worried about people seeking treatments which are unsuitable for them, or who are not prepared for the mental health impact of an aesthetic change.

“But we also need people to do their homework on the company or individual carrying out the procedure – if a deal looks too good to be true, then don’t be afraid to walk away. The consequences of botched procedures can be dreadful.”

The campaign also extends to Twitter, where the DHSC is signposting consumers to new pages on the NHS website with information and guidance about common procedures and how to go about finding a treatment provider.

Inclusive advice? 

The NHS advice on choosing a practitioner urges consumers to look for a doctor, nurse or dentist on an accredited register, even for non-surgical procedures such as skin peels and laser hair removal. 

For “other professionals” – the umbrella beauty and aesthetic therapists would typically come under – the website says consumers should check practitioners against a register accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to show they meet “set standards of training, insurance and skill". 

The website points readers to the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) and Save Face, both voluntary registers. While the JCCP does not allow non-medics on its register for injectables, it does recognise beauty therapists for chemical peels, skin rejuvenation, lasers, IPL and LED treatments. 

In a press release from The Beauty Aesthetic Special Interest Committee, a JCCP-affiliated group which represents the interests of non-medics in the aesthetics industry, the concerns were raised over the accessibility of the signposted registers for non-medics. 

BASIC chairwoman Caroline Larissey commented: “We welcome the guidelines developed by DHSC as client safety is at the heart of what we do, alongside supporting the beauty aesthetic professionals out there.

“But to ensure quality we need standards, robust, quality training, qualification pathways, and registers that are transparent and fully available for all practitioners – both medical and non-medical.”

In response, BASIC is working on “nationally accepted” guidelines and recommendations for non-medics in the industry, which it then intends to present to Government environmental health experts for approval. 

BASIC says its own guidelines “will go even further” than the DHSC advice and will include non-medical professionals as treatment providers in guidance for the public. 

In March, the Department of Health and Social care indicated it would work with beauty industry representatives to move towards the development of accredited pathways for therapists in aesthetics.