Health inspectors call for stricter regulation in beauty salons

Health inspectors call for stricter regulations in beauty salons with many having ‘little understanding of infection control’ and some reusing needles or doing procedures on under-18s

  • Inspectors say current rules make prosecuting wrongdoers too difficult
  • Regulations have not kept pace with the beauty industry, they warn
  • And young people may be getting procedures that are illegal or unsafe for them

Health inspectors are calling for beauty salons to face stricter regulations because so many of them have ‘little understanding of infection control’.

In some salons staff have little or no safety training and some are even reusing needles or offering procedures to under-18s, reports have found.

But vague licensing laws mean that officials struggle to enforce proper health and safety procedures or to punish those acting unsafely.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and Institute of Licensing have called for new rules to be drawn up to match the offerings in modern salons.

Under-18s have been able to get their genitals pierced, to have lip fillers or to get semi-permanent make-up applied by badly trained staff.

Regulations have failed to keep pace with the fast-moving beauty industry, the institutes said, and hundreds of inspectors say they regularly see practices that worry them.

Inspectors said they saw staff who thought it was acceptable to reuse needles or other sharp tools on the skin if they cleaned them first (stock image of microblading)

‘With an abundance of new treatments emerging on the market, local authorities desperately need new powers to check these are being carried out safely by trained and competent practitioners,’ said Debbie Wood, an executive director at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH). 

The reports by the CIEH and Institute of Licencing (IoL) found that in some salons staff offered ‘semi-invasive’ procedures without proper training.

These could include microblading eyebrows, piercings or semi-permanent make-up. 

And a lack of strict regulations meant that when clients were injured by badly-trained staff – if they were scarred or burned by their treatment, for example – it was difficult or impossible to prosecute them because the law was so vague or outdated. 

It is illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 or allow them to use a tanning bed, but legal to give minors intimate piercings, semi-permanent makeup or fillers.

But reality TV shows such as The Only Way is Essex and Love Island have dramatically increased demand for such procedures even in young women.

Procedures once more common in older people whose youthful looks were fading are now being done on women in their teens and 20s.


One in five beauty clinics in England put their clients at risk of serious harm, a damning report found in October 2019.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) warned too many were carrying out unsafe facelifts, nose jobs, breast enlargements, weight loss surgeries and hair transplants.

It found the procedures at these clinics were often performed by untrained staff who did not follow infection prevention standards.

The report also revealed some clients were given out-of-date medicine and left in danger while sedated during liposuction.

It was the latest blow to the clinics, which have in the past been accused of preying on the body-conscious by offering them buy-one-get-one-free surgeries and ignoring the psychological impacts of the alterations. 

Many were poor at monitoring vulnerable patients whose health may deteriorate and did not get proper consent before starting treatment.


Patients at these clinics were also not being given enough ‘cooling off’ time after their consultation to properly consider the procedures.

Other common areas of concern included an inability to manage anaphylaxis – a deadly allergic reaction – and a lack of attention to fundamental safety processes.

The CQC said it also had concerns about equipment cleanliness and maintenance at some clinics.

Demand has expanded faster than regulators have been able to get to grips with the industry.

The CIEH and IoL found in a survey of 258 health and licensing professionals in England that they often found salons that worried them.

Staff were performing potentially risky procedures without proper training, they saw.

Some wrongly thought it was safe to reuse needles or other sharp tools as long as they cleaned them between uses. 

It is well known that sharing needles can spread serious blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis or HIV.

Other salons didn’t carry out proper safety testing of products on people’s skin – known as ‘patch testing’ – before they committed to the full procedure. 

Basic cleaning, hygiene and waste procedures were also often ignored, the reports found. 

Daniel Davies, chairman of the IoL, said: ‘A complete reform of licensing arrangements together with measures to raise public awareness is absolutely essential and should be progressed as soon as possible.’

Inspectors said they currently rely on a hodgepodge of existing health and safety legislation to try and prosecute practitioners who injure a client or cause infection.

One inspector reported a number of ear cartilage infections linked to one piercing studio that saw several clients attend A&E and one lose the top of their ear.

Last year, Wolverhampton-based tattooist Brendan McCarthy – known as Dr Evil – was jailed for 40 months for carrying out ear and nipple removals and a tongue splitting procedure.

While his case hit the headlines, inspectors fear countless practitioners could be offering extreme semi-surgical procedures without basic medical, infection control and hygiene knowledge.

Without training, beauticians would also be unable to assess whether an individual suffers from body dysmorphia, where the sufferer obsessively tries to correct perceived flaws in their appearance.

The research was published in two reports – A Fragmented Picture and The Ugly Side of Beauty – which were co-authored by CIEH and IoL.

The two bodies are now calling for the urgent introduction of an England-wide licensing scheme for cosmetic treatments.

Such a scheme is already planned in Wales, while Scotland already has a licensing regime for piercing and tattooing businesses.

Source: Read Full Article