Fillers can cause extreme swelling, blood clots and even blindness - and experts fear for youngsters' safety as social media pressures drive them to cheap deals.
Lulu, 17, goes to clinics in Manchester
Rogue beauty salons could be flouting the law by offering potentially dangerous lip fillers to underage teens without checking their ID.
We contacted 50 clinics across England and the vast majority didn’t ask for age verification, despite it being illegal to inject under-18s.
Experts fear for youngsters’ safety as social media pressures drive them to cheap deals.
Fillers can cause extreme swelling, blood clots and even blindness.
The Government guidance states:
“It is a criminal offence to administer botulinum toxin (commonly known as ‘Botox’) or a filler by way of injection for a cosmetic purpose to a person under 18 in England, even if they have the permission of someone over 18.
“It is also an offence to make arrangements or book an appointment to provide these treatments to anyone under the age of 18 in England.”
Lulu at the Lip King salon
The influence of reality stars such as Kylie Jenner, who had her lips enlarged aged 17, has led to a surge in demand for the procedures – often carried out in hair salons and in living rooms.
Our reporter approached over 50 practitioners seeking to book lip filler consultations for her “younger sister”.
We then visited eight clinics with two 17-year-old girls, Ula and Lulu.
It is against the law for under-18s to receive dermal fillers for cosmetic reasons in England.
Even just making arrangements is a contravention of the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act 2021. It is not enough for the practitioner or business to decide that the young person looks to be over 18 – they must take steps and check documents to make sure they are certain the person is 18 or over to avoid breaking the law.
Ula is told she can return
But we found just nine practitioners of the 50 – less than a quarter – asked the girls’ age or ID when booking.
Of the eight clinics our actors visited, six failed to mention ID during a consultation, while seven said our girls – who were 17 but simply told them they were older – were suitable for fillers and agreed they could book in for the procedure, without checking their ID.
Half the clinics were training academies. Currently, no qualifications are required to buy or inject filler.
Incidences of botched lip fillers are rife: industry watchdog Save Face, a national register of accredited non-surgical practitioners, received 1,948 complaints in 2022.
Ula and Lulu attended consultations at eight salons across Essex and Manchester and told practitioners they were 18, and were taken at their word. At no point did they actually have filler administered.
Kylie Jenner with enhanced pout
At an appointment, The Lip King, who operates out of an office block in Salford and has 16,400 Instagram followers, said Lulu had “good shaped lips for filler”. It suggested she have 1ml injected – twice the recommended starting dose. In a consultation at Skin Lab Aesthetics in Hornchurch, Essex, a beautician said Ula could return every two weeks for “top-ups”.
A practitioner at LipsInc in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, said “No, nothing” when asked if Ula would need to bring anything on the day of treatment. And while Ula gave a fake age of 18 to Kissed Lips Aesthetics in Romford, Essex, the owner did not query it or ask for ID. At Her HQ in Prestwich, Manchester, a practitioner suggested Lulu start with 0.5ml of filler. Neighbouring MC Aesthetics did ask for her age, but failed to check her ID. Two others complied with the law.
Ashton Collins, director of Save Face, said it was “gravely irresponsible “ of clinics not to check ID and showed a lack of ethics and safety standards.
She added: “Young girls perceive [filler] as a low risk beauty treatment as opposed to a medical intervention and will seek out providers who do not take appropriate measures to verify that they are over 18.”
Appalled by our findings, Love Island’s Faye Winter called on police and local authorities to clamp down on clinics flouting the ban. Faye, 28, who had her lips reduced after her parents told her they looked silly on the show, said: “With the increase in ‘makeover videos’ on social media, salons are becoming more reluctant to check identity to see if patients are of age.”
Faye Winter had her lips reduced
Labour MP Judith Cummins, co-founder of the Beauty and Wellbeing All Party Parliamentary Group, said the Tories were not doing enough.
She added: “This investigation shows that some unscrupulous practitioners are still taking advantage of young people and breaking the law, seemingly without consequence.”
While under-18s are banned from getting dermal fillers or Botox injections in England, they are permitted in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Jordan Parke, The Lip King, said:
“I was under the impression she [Lulu] was about 19 or 20. She was a pretty girl and her manner of dress led me to the conclusion that she was well over 18.”
Ula at LipsInc in Essex
Her HQ denied any wrongdoing, saying: “If you had proceeded to book an appointment, a full client consultation would have been carried out as we do not carry out treatments on any persons under the required legal age.” Kirsty Harper, of Kissed Lips in Romford, said:
“No procedure on anyone who looks under age would continue.” LipsInc, Skin Lab Aesthetics and MC Aesthetics all denied any wrongdoing and said ID would have been needed before treatment.
If you have had a treatment under 18 in England or are a parent of a child who has, you can contact Save Face on 01443704051 or email@example.com.
Nearly 2,000 clients complain of botched jobs in just one year
Thousands of people have contacted campaigners to report botched lip fillers.
Save Face, a national register of accredited non-surgical practitioners, which also campaigns for tighter regulations, received 1,948 complaints in 2022 alone.
Of those who got in touch, 87% admitted opting for treatments carried out by beauticians, hairdressers or non-experts.
And 89% found their practitioner on social media – drawn in by cheap deals and “celebrity” treatment packages.
A kit bought online
Others were persuaded by impressive before and after selfies and time-limited offers. In total, 86% said practitioners failed to take a medical history before they had their treatment. And 93% of clients said they were not aware any serious complications could occur and believed the treatments were low risk.
Ashton Collins, the director of Save Face, said: “Any practitioner who is willing to break the law and put a young person’s health and appearance at risk should be avoided at all costs.
“We have supported dozens of victims and parents of children who have been exploited and harmed by unscrupulous practice and have seen first-hand the physical and emotional damage that can be caused when things go wrong.”
Kit is sold on web without ID checks
Some online retailers are selling lip fillers with no ID checks, our investigation found.
Filler World, based in the West Midlands, sold us a 1ml syringe and spare needles for £36.25. The website asked for a date of birth but not ID. Glasgow-based Teleta sold us a 1ml dose for £22 plus VAT. Reputable sites require a training certificate and ID.
Save Face’s Ashton Collins added: “These products are medical devices and should only be sold to reputable practitioners via licenced pharmacies or manufacturers.”
Nick Singh, director of Filler World, said:
“You are incorrect in your assumption that we let under-18s order from our website.”
Christian Barry, MD of Teleta said:
“Teleta Pharma Ltd is a regulated supplier of Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic products, and fully aware of its responsibilities.”