The NHF/NBF has launched a new guide on advertising for UK hair and beauty salons, in response to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) stepping up enforcement activities in the hair and beauty sector.

The new guide includes advice on how to make sure adverts are not misleading, for example on price, limited time deals, free gifts or discounts. It also covers body image, gender stereotypes, and restrictions on advertising beauty products or treatments, in particular botulinum toxins. The ASA is cracking down on beauty businesses which advertise botulinum toxin products to the public. The products are often referred to under their trademarked names such as Botox, Vistabel, Dysport, Bocouture and Azzalure, but they are all “prescription-only medicines” (POMs).

Under the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 it is unlawful to promote prescription-only medicines to the public, including on social media, and it also breaches the Advertising Standards Authority CAP Code. It makes no difference if the prescription-only medicine is being administered by a registered medical practitioner or whether it’s for medical or cosmetic purposes.

The Advertising Standards Authority advice is:

  • Remove direct references to Botox or other brand names, or similar terms such as “Beautytox” or “Beautox”. Offering a “Botox treatment” as a competition prize or at a discounted price is still considered as advertising a prescription-only medicine
  • Don’t use indirect phrases such as “facial freezing injection treatments” as this is considered to have the same effect as promoting a prescription-only medicine
  • Don’t refer to treating medical conditions which indicates that a prescription-only medicine is being promoted

The ASA advises salons to promote the consultation itself, for example a consultation for the treatment of lines and wrinkles. Although at present dermal fillers are not prescription-only medicines, this may well change to protect client safety. The ASA warns that salons should avoid phrases such as “anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers” as putting the two treatments together suggests that the injections are prescription-only medicines.

Caroline Larissey, director of quality and standards at NBF, commented: “The NHF/NBF’s new guide has come at the right time for hair and beauty salons, especially those which offer treatments involving botulinum toxins. Not knowing the rules can seriously damage a salon’s reputation as the ASA publishes the outcomes of its investigations and names the businesses concerned.”