Hamilton Fraser joined other industry associations in welcoming the recent news that the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill will soon become law, banning the use of invasive nonsurgical cosmetic treatment involving the insertion of dermal fillers or the injection of toxin to any person under the age of 18, unless there is an explicit medically determined reason.
A prominent voice of support for the Bill came from the JCCP, a partner of Hamilton Fraser, who work closely with government and national bodies seeking greater regulation on non-surgical aesthetic treatments and hair restoration surgery in the UK, with the ultimate aim of creating a safer environment for members of the public undergoing non-surgical treatments.
The JCCP provided advice to government departments as part of the formulation of this important and long overdue piece of legislation and has campaigned for its legal enforcement. In this post, we take a closer look at the next steps that need to be taken on the road towards creating a safer aesthetic industry.
The injectables industry in the UK is highly unregulated, so the new Bill that will soon become law represents a significant moment for the aesthetic sector, and an important step towards wider regulation around injectables in the future. The new legislation also forms a key component of the JCCP’s recently published 10 Point Plan. The plan lays out the campaigns the JCCP is carrying out and the goals they are seeking to achieve in their aim to create a safer aesthetic industry with mandated qualifications, premises criteria, insurance and other steps relating to the sector. The JCCP has created a handy 10 point plan infographic summarising all components of their plan, which are:
You can download a longer form article, the JCCP 10 point plan for safer regulation in the aesthetic sector, which contains a detailed explanation of the plan.
More regulated advertising and social media is the focus of point six of the JCCP’s plan. It calls for ‘tighter controls and penalties on exaggerated, inaccurate and misleading advertising and social media posts in relation to aesthetic treatments and hair restoration surgery, products and training’.
The JCCP have expressed ongoing concern about the irresponsible use of social media and advertising, which promote a ‘false picture of perfection’.
Commenting on the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill, Professor David Sines CBE, Chair of the JCCP said:
“Whilst welcoming the new Bill, the JCCP is mindful that much more needs to be done to ensure that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) are committed to the responsible advertising of aesthetic products and services, which do not mislead customers with regard to risk, benefits and outcomes.”
The JCCP highlight a number of areas of concern relating to social media and advertising. Here, we take a look at some of them.
A major cause for concern is the way that irresponsible social media posts adversely influence public perceptions of both the need for cosmetic treatments, and of the quality and effectiveness of services that are ‘on offer’, which often misrepresent the risks and benefits.
Poor advertising practices, which often breach ASA guidance on responsible advertising and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance on prescription only medicines, and the use of safe ‘quality assured products and devices’, are another area of concern. For example, many advertisements promote ‘anti-wrinkle’ treatments which are an illegal front for the inappropriate advertising of toxins, which are prescription only medicines.
Safe and ethical prescribing is a separate component on the JCCP’s plan, but this is also an area of concern when it comes to advertising, especially relating to the advertising of online prescribing services for non-prescribers for Botox without the need for face-to-face assessment of the patient. These advertisements are shared on social media platforms such as Facebook, enabling anyone involved in aesthetics, whatever their background, to access remote prescribing. Postings also reveal advice being offered on where to obtain toxins and fillers at cheap rates, with no regard for their quality and impact on patient safety.
The issue of Facebook and other social media platforms not consistently recognising laws around advertising prescription only medicines and ASA standards in the UK is a big concern to the JCCP and others in the industry. The way in which social media posts are being targeted at under 18s has been a particularly concerning issue.
Legislation to regulate the publication of advertisements that mislead and misinform members of the public and aesthetic practitioners about the exact nature, risks and benefits associated with cosmetic treatment and cosmetic training offers in the UK is still inadequate. Images of face and body parts are often digitally edited and not declared by the advertiser, misleading the public on likely realistic results of treatments. Until this changes, argue the JCCP, inappropriate advertising will continue to target vulnerable individuals, exploiting and reinforcing underlying emotional and psychological challenges that relate to body image, wellbeing and mental health.
When it comes to social media and advertising in aesthetics, the JCCP has identified four key objectives:
The JCCP has put together clear proposals for achieving change in social media and advertising in aesthetics. You can read them in full on page 22 of the JCCP’s 10 point plan for safer regulation in the aesthetics sector.
The proposals include:
Since its publication in March 2021, the JCCP’s 10 point plan has been well received, with Professor David Sines commenting that it has ‘hit the right note’.
Eddie Hooker, CEO at Hamilton Fraser, adds:
“At Hamilton Fraser, we fully support the JCCP in striving for a safer future for the aesthetics industry. We agree that tighter controls and penalties on exaggerated, inaccurate and misleading advertising and social media posts in relation to aesthetic treatments is an important component of change. The JCCP’s role in reaching out to industry stakeholders such as the ASA, social media companies and government agencies is vital in bringing everyone together, particularly given the increase in promotion of aesthetic procedures online in recent times.”
You can read more about ethical marketing and social media for aesthetic practitioners here.