‘No child needs cosmetic Botox or fillers’
It hardly seems possible that – before today – a 16-year-old could legally receive a Botox and/or filler treatment by an unqualified practitioner. Sadly, as many teenagers have learned the hard way, this is exactly what's been happening.
Last year Laura Trott, the Conservative MP for Sevenoaks, submitted a Private Members Bill (The Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act 2021) to the House of Commons, seeking to criminalise those who provide Botox injections and cosmetic fillers to under-18s. The great news? She was successful, and – now – it's the law.
Explaining the importance of this Bill, Laura identified that “no child needs cosmetic Botox or fillers,” before explaining that, “until [today] it was perfectly legal for them to go into a clinic or someone's home and just have them. And these treatments in the hands of the wrong providers can permanently disfigure kids, they can blind them. There are really serious repercussions when the treatments go wrong.”
Save Face, a national register of Accredited practitioners who provide non-surgical cosmetic treatments, estimate that 41,000 procedures (such as lip fillers) were carried out on under-18s in 2020 alone. The Department for Health have estimated the figures are even higher, with around 70,000 under-18s receiving Botox or cosmetic fillers each year.
MY BILL WILL STOP THESE DANGEROUS AND UNNECESSARY PROCEDURES, WHICH CAN REALLY RUIN CHILDREN'S LIVES.
As Laura mentioned, these procedures can have extreme physical consequences if they go wrong, but they can also have a financial impact. She explains, "If you do not have a qualified provider, who's putting [Botox and/or filler] into your face, they may not be able to deal with some of the problems which then arise and they may not have insurance. So then you will have to fund the treatments to fix the problems."
She explains, “My Bill will stop these dangerous and unnecessary procedures, which can really ruin children's lives.” However, it's not just under-18s who are at risk from unregulated treatments. Save Face report that in the last year, they've received 2,083 complaints about “botched” procedures, noting that for some people, this has resulted in blood clots, partial blindness, and necrosis of facial tissue, meaning the skin tissue dies due to lack of oxygen and blood flow.
The lack of regulation within the cosmetics industry drew further criticism following Linda Evangelista speaking out about being “brutally disfigured” after having the popular, non-surgical procedure known as ‘CoolSculpting'. The treatment triggered a condition called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, which caused “painful, hardened masses” to protrude from Linda's skin.
Given the fact that unlicensed treatments and practitioners can seriously damage anyone of any age, why doesn't this law apply to everyone?
Well, it turns out it's not as simple as that. Due to the nature of the Bill – being a Private Members Bill – Laura was necessarily limited in scope. She explained, “You can't put a massive new regulator in as part of a private members bill,” identifying that, "it has to be something which has cross-party support; is quite narrow in scope; and can't impose any costs on Exchequer. So actually doing something just for under-eighteens for very specific and well-used substances [botulinum toxin and cosmetic fillers] actually worked quite well.”
And, to be honest, it's probably a good place to start. As Laura points out, 80% of people find their botox providers through Instagram. Although thankfully, The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) have launched a public consultation on whether to introduce new rules that would prohibit cosmetic intervention adverts from being directed at under-18s.
To say that this has been a long time coming is an understatement. “This is something that successive governments have worked on and it hasn't happened for a number of reasons,” explained Laura. She's keen to stress that although this is her Bill, she's had plenty of support pushing it through Parliament: “There's been a lot of work that's been done in this area by lots of people beforehand. So it's really been a cross-party endeavour."
Laura praises Judith Cummings and Carolyn Harris [Co-Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing]; Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham; and Alberto Costa, calling the Bill, "something that really has built up over a number of years.” She also highlights the extraordinary work done by Save Face, who've long campaigned for stricter regulation in the cosmetics industry.
Ashton Collins, the Director of Save Face, said
“I am 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 MP 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 which will help safeguard the people most at risk to falling into unsafe hands.”
You'd be forgiven for thinking that this Bill sailed through Parliament, but once again – due to the nature of it being a Private Members Bill – it very nearly didn't happen. Laura told GLAMOUR, "How it works with Private Member's Bills is that there's a specific time [allocated] over the course of a parliamentary session. If you don't get your bill through all the stages that it needs to go through at a certain time, then it just gets timed out."
So, what's next? According to Laura, it looks like further regulation of the cosmetics industry is definitely on the agenda. She said, “During the passage of my Bill, the Health Ministers were clear that they were looking at further regulation in this area. And I absolutely welcome that," adding that she's “very keen to continue working in this area.”
For more information about finding accredited non-surgical cosmetic practitioners, visit Save Face, which has a Government-approved register of practitioners.