The beauty industry traditionally comprised hairdressing and beauty services such as skin care, cosmetic make-up services, massages, manicures and pedicures. But as the demands for cosmetic procedures has grown, the scope of the treatments offered by high street beauty salons and clinics has expanded to include procedures such as Botox, dermal fillers and non-surgical face lifts.
The lack of current regulation, however, has allowed unqualified and unregulated service providers to spring up, many motivated by the easy money to be earned. Some beauticians across the UK are offering cosmetic procedures to teenagers as young as 14. Experts are critical of the industry's lack of regulation and pledge that any type of service, treatment or therapy that results in an invasive procedure to the body, no matter how minor, requires Government regulation and control to protect the public's safety and health.
Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: "We want to see the introduction of regulation for the beauty industry to protect the public and to give reputable professionals the recognition they deserve. We often find that members of the public are surprised to learn that the beauty industry is unregulated. Currently, anyone can establish themselves as a beauty therapist or open a beauty clinic with little or no training. It's not just about regulation - it's important that the public are educated as well.”
Below are the four important areas to check when deciding where to undergo cosmetic treatments.
You must use a reputable practitioner who is properly qualified. Providers of cosmetic treatments that do not involve surgery do not have to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator for health services in England. However, to work as a beauty therapist, you usually require a qualification. There are a number of resources available online to check the qualifications of a therapist. Aesthetic nurses, often found in high street clinics, must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Some cosmetic procedures require a licence. Over the last few years there has been an increase in the number of different types of outlets offering laser hair removal treatments. These range from cosmetic laser hair removal clinics to dental surgeries and beauty salons. In order to make sure that you are getting the best and safest possible treatment there are legal requirements in place for those who carry out the procedure. Practices offering laser hair removal procedures which are not run by the NHS, eg private practices and beauty salons, are required by law to register with and be monitored by CQC. A licence is needed to carry out laser hair removal treatments in both their work premises and treatment rooms in their homes. Another example is Botulinum toxin, which is a prescription-only medicine that should only be administered by an appropriately trained doctor, pharmacist, dentist or registered nurse in a clinical environment. The injections should not be carried out by beauty therapists, who lack the necessary clinical background.
All reputable clinics will have appropriate insurance. The three main ones are professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurance, and employer’s liability insurance. We recommend that you ask the clinic whether they have insurance before you go ahead with the treatment. A responsible clinic will not be offended by this.
You should ensure that you know what the procedure involves, what the possible complications and side effects are, and who you should contact if you have any issues afterwards. Anticipate improvement not perfection. If you expect cosmetic procedures to turn you into a movie star, you are bound to be disappointed.
Elise concludes: “The introduction of regulation would require all therapists to have undergone an approved training route. This would improve the standard of treatments delivered in salons and clinics helping to safeguard the public. Many beauty therapists have already undergone extensive training and regulation would deliver the recognition that these individuals deserve.”