Cosmetic treatment rules brokenWhich? finds firms breaking industry guidelines

26 November 2007

Woman's face being injected

People are increasingly choosing to give nature a helping hand

Some of the biggest names in the UK cosmetic treatments industry broke industry rules at a recent exhibition, according to a Which? report published today.

We found 20 examples of companies contravening industry guidelines at the Body Beautiful Show in Islington in the first week of November.

These were subsequently reported to the industry watchdog - the Independent Healthcare Advisory Service (IHAS).

Contravening rules

Harley Medical Group, Make Yourself Amazing (MYA), Linia and Forma were some of the big names found to be either directly contravening rules or acting outside the ethos of the industry’s self-regulatory code.

Which?’s findings included:

Advertising Botox - this contravenes Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) regulations as Botox is a prescription-only drug. Forma handed out a leaflet advertising Botox which could ‘…take years off your face in a procedure that takes a matter of minutes…is safe and virtually non-invasive…’

Advertising guidelines

Breaching Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines - ASA guidance states that the use of the term ‘rejuvenation’ is generally unacceptable. Hurlingham clinic and spa gave out a leaflet stating ‘rejuvenation is our business’.

Competitions - we questioned whether it is appropriate to offer cosmetic treatments as competition prizes under IHAS guidelines.  MYA promoted a competition to win £50 towards a non-surgical procedure or £200 towards a surgical procedure. Linia promoted a competition for a free cosmetic surgery operation, 50% off any cosmetic surgery operation or 25% off any cosmetic surgery operation.

Testimonials and endorsements (prohibited by IHAS guidelines) - MYA advertisements included testimonials on a leaflet and a car. Both featured quotes from Naomi from Channel 4’s Shipwrecked 2007, who had had a MYA breast enlargement. The leaflet also featured former Big Brother contestant, Orlaith McAllister.

Self regulation

Which? health campaigner Frances Blunden says: ‘We have told the government before, and we are telling them again, self-regulation in this industry simply won't work.

‘Whether it’s a surgical procedure like a boob-job or a non-invasive treatment like Botox injections, any cosmetic procedure carries risks.

‘Some of the ways we've found them being marketed are simply unacceptable and it is alarming that we uncovered so many examples at just one event – especially one that was attended by so many consumers.’