From today, botox and fillers are banned for under-18s in the UK, here’s the low-down on the new legislation
People under the age of 18 will not be able to get dermal fillers or botulinum toxin injections – that’s botox by the way – from today after the passing of the ‘Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act’.
What does the ban mean?
From 1st October, it’s illegal to administer botox or fillers to under-18s unless the treatment has been approved for use by a medical practitioner. This means that young people cannot have these non-medical procedures for aesthetic reasons.
The government estimates that 41,000 botox-style procedures were carried out on under-18s last year and analysis from the Department of Health and Social Care says that 29,300 dermal fillers were administered to this age group in 2017. Often these non-medical procedures are carried out by people with a lack of training and in unhygienic environments, putting young people at risk of health complications.
On the legislation, Millie Kendall MBE CEO at The British Beauty Council, says: “We supported pushing the bill through parliament. 70,000 young people under the age of 18 are seeking aesthetic treatments each year. We need to control this. These procedures are not just a lipstick or a mascara, they can be a permanent alteration to a person’s face at a time when they are not fully grown physically and emotionally.”
Why has it come into place?
Unlike breast enlargements and facelift operations, which are highly regulated for patient’s safety, the non-surgical cosmetic industry is still highly unregulated. This means that people who are not medical professionals can carry out botox or fillers – we’ve all heard of botox parties.
More and more young people have been accessing these procedures over recent years in the hope of achieving an ‘Instagram-face’. Although the industry has introduced some self-regulation – thanks to the Keogh Report – young people could get injected by beauticians, dentists, even their friends as long as they could get hold of the needles and fillers.
“This legislation has come in to protect patients from themselves and to stop poor practice,” explains Dr Daron Seukeran, Group Medical Director at Skin Clinics, a medical skincare clinic group that offers services from anti-ageing injectables to acne treatments. He continues: “The paediatric population is highly regulated throughout medicine but this was becoming blurred within the aesthetics industry. The new legislation is accepting that there is a group of young people who can be vulnerable to making the wrong decisions.”
Thanks to the likes of Instagram and Tik Tok, young people are feeling the pressure to be picture-perfect all of the time, and to them, a quick filler seems like it could do the trick. Lisa Oxenham, Beauty and Style Director at Marie Claire says: “No one could have predicted the catastrophic effects of social media filters on the youth of today. The increased pressure to adhere to beauty standards is forcing young people to turn to cosmetic procedures when they aren’t fully developed. This new legislation is a step in the right direction for safety within the UK’s aesthetic industry.”
It’s naivety towards possible risks, lack of research into good practitioners and the fact that young people will probably go for the cheapest option that is leaving them with ulcers, bruises or reactions that can ruin their lives. “The CPSA is 100% for the legislation as we support anything that cleans up the industry and sets guidelines,” says Tamara Griffiths, founding member of the Cosmetic Practice Standards Authority and Director of Education at the British Association of Dermatologists. “Young people are particularly blinkered to potential side effects of these procedures and they are part of the cohort of cosmetic patients who are particularly vulnerable,” she says.
Why is this only the first step towards a safer industry?
Despite being a huge development towards a safer cosmetics industry, medical practitioners and leading voices in the beauty industry are still calling for more to be done. Griffiths explains: “The CPSA are continually pushing the industry in the right direction and we want to ensure that the members of the public don’t trivialise these procedures. They can be very safe when carried out in the right hands, but people should make sure that their practitioner is experienced and qualified.”
Thanks to the work of the CPSA and other regulatory bodies that set out standards and expectations, this is becoming easier and easier. By working with cross-sector groups, these bodies are working to create a register of practitioners who follow safety guidelines, however, it is not compulsory for people to sign up for this register. This means that many people are still practising unsafely.
Millie Kendall MBE says: “The British Beauty Council will continue to campaign for wider industry regulation. It is not easy to get bills through the parliamentary process but we must continue to protect people of all ages and our industry’s reputation.”