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The Sign of Safe Non-Surgical
Cosmetic Treatments

The “Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act” will ban under 18’s from being able to receive cosmetic Botox or fillers. The Act will also require a doctor, registered medical practitioner, or a health professional to administer such procedures where there is a medical need in under 18s – a requirement which is currently not in place.

Ms Trott introduced the Bill after being selected fourth in a Private Members’ Bill ballot in January 2020. And, having gained cross-party backing in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the Bill was today approved by the HM The Queen.

Laura Trott MP said:

“No child needs cosmetic Botox or fillers and  I’m delighted my Bill has today gained Royal Assent. I cannot thank Ashton and the whole team at Save Face enough for all their tireless work in this area. The case studies have made such a difference in really bringing to life the danger of unscrupulous providers, and I am thrilled we have been able to change the law to ensure children are now protected.”

Botulinum toxin, dermal fillers and laser hair removal account for nine out of 10 non-surgical treatments performed in the UK. And, the latest analysis by the Department for Health estimated that as many as 41,000 botulinum toxin procedures may have been carried out on under-18s in 2020 and that more than 29,300 dermal filler procedures may have been undertaken on under-18s since 2017.

Ashton Collins, Director at Save Face said:

“We are delighted that this law has been passed. We have been campaigning for greater protection for young people who are being targeted, exploited, and harmed by unscrupulous practitioners since 2014. We are extremely grateful to Laura Trott for taking action on this extremely important issue and it has been a privilege to have been able to offer our support and contribute to her Bill. It truly is a monumental step forward that will help safeguard the people most at risk of falling into unsafe hands.” 

The Bill, which has been officially enshrined in law today, is expected to come into force in Autumn 2021, so businesses have time to familiarise themselves with the legislation, train staff, and make sure any necessary adaption to processes or systems can be introduced to full ensure compliance.

Campaign Victory – Bill to Ban Under 18s From Having Cosmetic Injections Moves Closer to Becoming Law


Following extensive engagement with MP Laura Trott on the development of the ‘Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill’ we are delighted that it is now in the final stages towards becoming law. On Friday, the Bill was read for the second time at the house of Lords. Not only was there unanimous support from across the house, but Save Face received several commendations on the success of its register and for our campaigns that helped bring this extremely important issue into public focus.

After campaigning for this essential change in the law since 2014, we were delighted when Laura decided to take the matter forward as part of her private members bill. We are honoured to have been able to support Laura throughout these key stages and we are extremely grateful for her hard work and tenacity in helping to protect young people from being exploited and potentially seriously harmed.

Has a year of video calls made you self-conscious? Don’t turn your camera off: just relax and deploy a few of these beauty tips

Thought we were a nation of narcissists pre-Covid? Well, a global pandemic has taken things to a whole new level. It’s safe to say nobody planned to spend quite so much of the past year staring at their own grainy reflection, but with everything from weddings to work meetings forced online, our bid to stay connected with others has meant being constantly confronted with our own faces.

And not all of us like what we see. There’s a big difference between sharing a carefully filtered selfie on Instagram, and catching yourself slumped in front of the screen during your fourth video chat of the day, the cat cleaning its paws in the background as you stare in horror at your dark circles. What with the unflattering lighting, unforgiving camera angles and the fact that none of us has been inside a salon in months, it’s no wonder we’re sick of the sight of ourselves. But what effect does it have on our self-esteem? And can we do anything to boost it?

Some of us already have. Save Face, a government-approved register of accredited cosmetic practitioners, had a 40% increase in website traffic over the first lockdown period last March. The company’s founder, Ashton Collins, suspects the “Zoom boom” may be behind the rise, and talks me through the “tweakments” that customers are seeking now that screens have become our mirrors.

“We’ve had a lot of people coming to us who said they couldn’t concentrate on what colleagues were saying because they were so busy looking at themselves and not liking what they saw,” she says. “Prior to the first lockdown, the people seeking non-surgical cosmetic treatments were younger women wanting the Kylie Jenner look: plumper lips and bigger cheeks. But then there was a huge spike in interest for skin rejuvenation and neck, eye and jowl treatments, mainly from an older, more professional market less accustomed to seeing themselves digitally.”

There was a huge spike in interest for skin rejuvenation and neck, eye and jowl treatments

Of course if you want to go down the digital alteration route, Zoom has a “touch up my appearance” feature (a sort of beautifying filter that the company says “can help smooth out the skin tone on your face”), or a “hide myself” option, which keeps you visible to everyone else, for the truly demoralised.

Cosmetics sales reflect our desire for a “filtered” appearance, too. Beauty e-tailer Cult Beauty sold one bottle of HUDA Beauty’s #FauxFilter Luminous Matte Liquid Foundation – a full-coverage, matte base designed for the Instagram generation – every minute in 2020. This and Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter foundation were among the site’s top five makeup products in the first two months of 2021.


So what does this mean for a future in which we’ll undoubtedly be spending more time online?

Alexia Inge, co-chief executive and co-founder of Cult Beauty, predicts we’ll fall into two camps. “Some will focus on what they want to improve and take a goal-oriented skincare or surgery approach to that, and others will just come to terms with how they look online,” she says. “We have a morning video meeting every day across the business, and I’ve noticed as the pandemic has worn on that people have been much happier leaving their cameras on rather than switching them off, and showing makeup-free faces. I actually see more people relaxing.”

One thing’s for sure: virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere soon; figuring out how to present yourself in a way you’re happy with might be a smart professional move. Here’s how.

Make it up

Nobody’s expecting you to pile on a full face of makeup for another day indoors, but a few carefully selected products can make you feel pulled together with minimal effort. Inge describes this approach as the makeup equivalent of leisurewear. “I haven’t got out of a pair of leggings for a very long time, and maybe we’re looking at our makeup in the same way we look at our clothes now: comfortable to wear and easy to take off.”

Think easy-to-use complexion products such as Nars’s Radiant Creamy Concealer and Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation (both of which have been bestsellers in the past couple of months). Multipurpose makeup such as Laura Mercier’s cult Tinted Moisturizer hydrates as well as providing SPF 30 protection and subtle colour.

Applying it needn’t take up your whole morning, either. “How we appear on a video call is far less nuanced than in real life, so beautifully blended-out eyeshadow, for instance, is never going to read on Zoom,” says makeup artist Alex Babsky, who has worked with Naomi Campbell and Florence Pugh. “As long as your concealer’s a good match for your skin, you can cover blemishes with a far less skilled hand than you’d need in real life; and a couple of coats of mascara to frame the eyes is always a good idea.”

Brows are also a major player. With threading and waxing services on hold for much of the past 12 months, every frown, eye roll and look of surprise has been affected – above your mask when you’re out, as well as on video calls.

“We already knew that brows frame the face, but they’re even more important on Zoom. Just as we talk with our hands, we talk with our brows,” says Jaimeney Patel, head of training at BlinkBrowBar, which has 21 locations in the UK, and offered Instagram brow tutorials throughout lockdown. “You can fill any gaps with a brow pencil, and a gel is good for keeping unruly hairs under control.” The brand’s Tinted Brow Gel allows you to look a lot more groomed than you probably feel, and the wand applicator means it’s difficult to mess up.

The power of touch

When you assess your face up close in a mirror, you can see fine lines and enlarged pores in detail. On Zoom, however, the focus is different. “A lot of my clients are pointing out issues they didn’t really notice before: puffiness, dullness and sagging around the jawline. That’s nothing new but, sitting in front of screens with unflattering light, they’ve become hyperaware of it,” says facialist Sophie Carbonari, who works between Paris and London. She recommends facial massage over expensive products as the key to skin that looks fresher and firmer on screen and in real life. “Think of the times your body is tired and feeling sluggish, and you crave a massage to get everything moving and ease tension: the face is exactly the same.”

Carbonari recommends using your regular skincare products and sweeping from your mouth to your ears, your nose to your temples, and from between your brows to your hairline, using firm pressure and the pads of your fingers. “The key is lymphatic drainage, so you always want to work from the inside to the outside. It brings the blood to the surface and oxygenates the skin, like the flushed, healthy look you get if you go walking by the beach.” Three minutes is enough, she says; it also doubles as a way to decompress at the end of a long day.

The screen itself could be having an effect, too. The blue light emitted by our devices is believed to have an ageing effect similar to that of the sun, and consumers are keen to swerve it. According to market research firm NPD Group, sales of blue-light protection skincare increased 170% in the first half of 2020.

“Even if we knew about blue-light damage before, now we feel the dryness, the sensation of eyes sticking to eyelids,” says Inge, who added a blue-light protection section to Cult Beauty. She points to sunscreens that combine SPF and blue-light protection, such as Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen, so you’re covered for your daily walk as well as your mid-morning finance meeting.

Find your light

Scoff if you like, but creating a flattering lighting set-up around your computer could make a big difference in the long run. Formerly the preserve of TikTok stars and YouTubers, ring lights (which reduce shadows by casting an even glow) can be bought at Selfridges and Urban Outfitters, while Amazon is awash with mini versions that clip on to your phone.

But you don’t have to invest in special kit. Babsky has made up several celebrity clients for Zoom interviews during the pandemic, and says a few simple tweaks can make a big difference in brightening the eyes, minimising shadows and creating a more professional appearance. He advises sitting in front of a window to benefit from naturally flattering daylight. “Avoid harsh shadows by sitting a little farther back, so you’re illuminated evenly by the light rather than sitting directly in it. Where daylight’s not possible, try bouncing the light of an adjustable lamp off a wall and sit centrally in front of that,” he says.

Camera angle is also key. Avoid the wide-foreheaded look by ensuring the camera is pointed downwards rather than up, and far enough away to minimise distortion.

If you use a light, point it above the top of your head. “This should give your face a little ‘sculpting’, with a nice, softly defined shadow under the jaw and cheekbones, and should be high enough to keep distracting reflections out of your lenses if you wear glasses,” Babsky says. “And placing a hand mirror out of sight, flat on your desk, can help bounce more light up into your face for some attractive highlights in your eyes.” And if all else fails – there’s always the “turn camera off” button.

Save Face Director Ashton Collins chats to 5 Live presenter Nihal Arthanayake about Zoom Dysmorphia and why video calls are being linked to a huge increase in demand for cosmetic procedures. As the demand for treatment increases, unfortunately, as does the number of unreputable practitioners. Ashton shares some insight into the types of complaints we receive and how to stay safe if you are considering a treatment. 

Zoom calls have led to a huge increase in people wanting to change the way they look and the demand for non-surgical cosmetic treatments is greater than ever. Unfortunately, as the demand increases as does the number of unqualified practitioners who want to cash in on the so called ‘Zoom Boom’. In this video Save Face Director Ashton Collins chats to the BBC X-Ray team about the sorts of enquiries we have been getting throughout the lockdown period and most importantly how to stay safe if you are looking for a treatment provider.


It is legal for under 18s to get fillers and Botox and it’s an area that is at present unregulated. Jane Garvey talks to the Conservative MP Laura Trott who is trying to get a law passed to stop under 18s accessing filler treatments, and to Ashton Collins from Save Face who has been supporting Laura with the Bill.

There has been a monumental step forward this week as MPs have voted in favour of the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill 2019-21. The legislation will make it illegal for those under 18 to access dermal filler and botox treatments.

We have been campaigning for a change in the law since 2014 and in that time, we have supported dozens of young people whose lives have been seriously impacted upon because of a cosmetic procedure gone wrong. Earlier this year, we launched the ‘Had Our Fill’ campaign in collaboration with The Sun and one of the key objectives was a call for legislation to protect young people from being exploited by unscrupulous practitioners. MP for Sevenoaks, Laura Trott saw the campaign and decided to take the matter forward. We have been working with Laura throughout the development of her Private Members Bill and we will continue to offer our support as it progresses to the next stages.

Save Face Director Ashton Collins and MP Laura Trott discuss the Bill on BBC Politics Live.

The most recent episode of the BBC’s ‘The Truth About’ series was all about cosmetic procedures. The programme explored why non-surgical treatments have become so popular and what has led to a huge increase in rogue practitioners. This clip explains the risks of dermal filler treatments in unsafe hands and, most importantly, how to find a safe practitioner.

Lockdown and remote work have meant hours of staring at our own faces on video calls – and prompted interest in going under the knife.

As much as we may now be trained to sit on video calls and stare at our colleagues through a computer screen, many of us find ourselves constantly distracted during our daily huddles and meetings. It’s not the dog barking in the background, or the roommate making lunch over someone’s shoulder – it’s the sight of our own faces.

And the longer that video thumbnail stares back at us, the more we start to notice things. Were those crow’s feet there before lockdown? Did my nose suddenly get bigger? Is one eyebrow higher than the other?

It’s little surprise that after months of conducting conversations via video call, many of us have started to analyse – and criticize – our appearances more. Cosmetic doctors and plastic surgeons around the world – Australia, the US, the UK, Japan, South Korea – have reported surges in bookings for surgical and non-surgical treatments following lockdown. It’s being referred to as the ‘Zoom Boom’.

“‘Lockdown Face’ has become a thing,” says Ashton Collins, director of Save Face, a UK government-approved register of accredited cosmetic practitioners. “We were inundated with queries saying, ‘I’ve noticed that my frown line is terrible, that my lips need doing, or my nose is crooked’.” Since the UK lockdown began in March, Save Face has seen a surge of 40% more traffic to its website, with people researching treatments, then going onto the register to find local practitioners.

What is it about pandemic video calls that have us scrutinising our every feature – and just how rational is it?

‘Perceptual distortion’

‘Cosmetic’ plastic surgery, in which someone changes their appearance for aesthetic rather than medical reasons, ranges from non-invasive procedures, such as Botox or skin fillers, to invasive procedures, such as facelifts and rhinoplasty.

And these procedures are pricey. Americans spent more than $16.6bn (£12.76bn) on cosmetic plastic surgery in 2018, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, with an average facelift costing almost $8,000 (£6,151). So, when the pandemic hit, some cosmetic doctors felt extreme uncertainty about what lockdown would mean for their industry, especially with disposable household income falling as well as the inability for patients to see doctors in person.

However, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) says its doctors were reporting up to 70% increases in requests for virtual consultations during this period, as patients continued to consider treatments they’d be able to get once they could see their surgeon face to face again. Similarly, a recent survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons showed that 64% of its doctors had seen an increase in their virtual consultations since the start of Covid-19.

Cosmetic doctors and plastic surgeons around the world have reported surges in bookings for surgical and non-surgical treatments following lockdown

Injectables were the most-asked-for treatments, followed by more invasive procedures, such as breast augmentation and liposuction. By and large, UK-based practitioners say that the Zoom Boom is driving interest in non-invasive facial procedures, like Botox, fillers or skin resurfacing that correct lines caused by the facial expressions we notice on video calls as well as to tackle wrinkles. There’s also a surge in demand for ‘neck rejuvenation’ and ‘jawline contouring’, as people spend more time looking down into their computer’s camera and focussing on those areas of their body.

And although women historically account for a far larger proportion of cosmetic procedures than men, the Zoom Boom isn’t just for women. Dr Munir Somji, a cosmetic doctor who works at London’s Dr MediSpa Clinic, says he’s received an increase in men requesting hair transplants, due to the time they’ve spent looking at their hair on video calls. “When you’re looking at a Zoom call and you’re in a well-lit room, your hair’s going to look thinner no matter what you do. And for men during lockdown, if they weren’t able to cut their hair, then it also looks thinner when it’s slightly longer,” he says.

But Dr Jill Owen, a psychologist from The British Psychological Society, warns the version of ourselves we see on our screens can be deceiving and distort reality. “The angle, lighting and limitations of the camera on many devices can lead to distortions of features – meaning, the image can be unfamiliar to the video caller, and very different to the picture they are used to each time they look in a mirror,” she explains.

Obsessing over our own image can lead to “perceptual distortion”, she says, which occurs when we “highlight a fault, then focus disproportionately on this until it becomes magnified” in our perception. Owen adds that devices such as smartphones can further alter body image, due to the angles at which we hold them.

Seeing oneself on-screen over and over again encourages people to obsess over body image and perceived flaws. It’s a common refrain from actors who see themselves on TV and in films for years, and who must conform to the industry’s unrealistic beauty standards. Now, the rise of social media and selfie culture means the phenomenon isn’t limited to stars; for instance, look to ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’, which, like the Zoom Boom, also sparked an increased demand in plastic surgery. Many studies in the last few years have linked selfie-taking and social media with body dysmorphia and negative self-esteem and self-image.

In that way, the Zoom Boom is just a continuation of a trend that’s been happening for years. “Essentially, it’s the same problem,” says Collins of Save Face. “Before it was ‘Selfie Dysmorphia’, and I think now it’s less about photos, and more about video calls. You see yourself in a certain way, and you scrutinise that and become obsessed with certain things.”


Obsessing over our own image can lead to perceptual distortion, which occurs when we highlight a fault and then fixate on it disproportionately

And with Zoom calls, not only are you staring at your face at a particular angle for hours on end, but you’re also looking at other people’s faces and comparing yours side-by-side in real time, says Gordon Lee, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Stanford University in California. “Celebrities have to look good in front of people,” he says. And now, for many amid the Zoom Boom, “so do regular people”.

The ‘pressure cooker’ of quarantine

The specific environment of pandemic-induced lockdown also contributes to the cosmetic-surgery Zoom Boom. For example, lockdown has given people more time to think and research treatments – especially if they had been considering getting a procedure done regardless of the pandemic. Lockdown makes it easy for people to stay at home as they heal, and they can also conceal their face behind a mask when in public. Some have reported an urgency to get treatments done more quickly in case we go into lockdown again.


But there are additional psychological factors, too. “Lockdown video calls have been occurring in contexts that, for many, have lacked other forms of social interaction and stimulation. The impact of the calls and subsequent negative thoughts can assume more significance than they might during a busy, active life,” says Owen. “In addition, if Covid and lockdown issues have led to lowered mood for some people, they may then be more prone to negative thinking or less favourable evaluations of themselves.”

London-based therapist Jodie Cariss is the Founder of Self Space, a private mental-health service where people can self-refer for sessions with qualified therapists. She says when working with clients with self-image issues who may be considering cosmetic surgery, she asks questions about what else is going on in their life, as it may be a symptom of a deeper underlying issue.

“I wonder about this experience [lockdown] highlighting people’s distress and unhappiness. So, I wonder if it might have been a bit of a pressure cooker for people and so we might see symptomatic behaviour coming out the other side,” she says. “I think things that we felt we had control over before suddenly might feel out of control, which brings to the surface other neuroses that we might have used as a kind of defence method before.”

Zoom bust?

Although it’s impossible to know if the Zoom Boom will go bust after Covid-19, there’s still a timelessness to plastic surgery’s appeal that is likely to go endure. “Plastic surgery is such a big part of our culture,” says Stanford’s Lee, who stresses the importance of going to qualified professionals and being responsible with why people choose to opt into having work down.

“The concept of beauty has been so invasive. It’s on TV, and we admire celebrities and social media stars, many of whom who have had cosmetic surgery,” he says. “It’s not realistic to look at the supermodel in a magazine – but all of us look at it, we admire it. We envy it. We want to be that.”

Even, it seems, on Zoom.

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