Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:57 am on 16th October 2020.

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Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury 10:57 am, 16th October 2020

I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend Laura Trott on bringing this Bill to the House, and it is a delight to speak in the debate this morning, because I recall talking to her about it in the very early days after we were elected. I am glad it is now being ventilated on Second Reading in this Chamber.

I am part of the cohort of Members who was unaware that it was lawful to inject fillers and botox into the faces of children under the age of 18. When I began my research, I was struck that the first case study I found was of a young British girl whose mother was a part-time beauty therapist who entered her into pageants. She was injecting this eight-year-old with a full face of botox before every performance and every competition. If that example was extreme, it did not take very long to find much less extreme examples and to see how ubiquitous the issue was.

VICE magazine did an experiment in 2019 with a 16-year-old girl where they visited 20 beauty salons in Essex and London, and every single one was willing to make the appointment for either botox or filler. They did not ask the young girl to produce any ID. The conclusion of VICE was that it did not particularly matter whether they went to a Harley Street practitioner in an upmarket venue or a high street hair salon where the filler was administered alongside the leg waxing kit in the back room—the reaction was the same.

Of the 20 salons, only 13 bothered to take any details about next of kin or who her GP was. In a sense, they were off-the-books procedures. When the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons—BAAPS, as it is more commonly known—was asked about that, its director was very clear, saying that treatments of this nature carry physical and psychological side effects and that most registered practitioners should not contemplate giving them to teenagers. Yet the simple truth is that the light-touch regulation means there is ample opportunity for unscrupulous practices.