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Agency Leadership Health Marketing

The changing face of aesthetics: New legislation opens doors for responsible brands

By Lucy Hobbs, Senior Account Manager

Inizio Evoke


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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May 2, 2024 | 7 min read

New legislation puts people before procedures, says Lucy Hobbs of Inizio Evoke for The Drum’s health and pharma focus.

A syringe against a pink background

Aesthetics regulation is changing - does that mean an opportunity for major brands? / Diana Polekhina via Unsplash

We’re no strangers to aesthetics. In fact, the number of people receiving ‘tweakments’ has grown to 11% of the UK population. So it’s no surprise that governments, both in the UK and elsewhere, are looking to shake up legislation around non-surgical procedures – and that those changes are sparking conversations across the aesthetics industry.

Why the change now? Well, we’ve all heard horror stories of botched cosmetic procedures. For some people, the physical and emotional impact is immense. Devastating, even. Yet, reports of inexperienced aestheticians have continued to rise along with complaints from patients.

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Calling time on unregulated cosmetics

Here in the UK, since a recent amendment to the Health and Care Act 2022, the secretary of state for health and social care now has the power to bring in a licensing scheme for non-surgical cosmetic procedures in England.

The upshot? We have to get ready for a new traffic light system. Under the scheme, all cosmetic procedures will be categorized by their risk: red, amber, or green.

Red (high-risk) will include procedures like thread lifting and hair restoration surgery. Soon, these will only be allowed to be carried out by regulated healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Botox and dermal fillers will fall into amber (medium-risk). Under the new legislation, non-healthcare professionals will need licensing and oversight by qualified HCPs.

Green (low-risk) will cover microneedling, ‘photofacial’ techniques based on ‘intense pulsed light’ (IPL) and LED therapies, and mesotherapy. Practitioners meeting agreed standards will be able to perform these without additional oversight.

The future of aesthetics

Though there's no set date for these changes, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and nurses have a unique, time-sensitive chance to stay at the forefront of aesthetics.

When the licensing scheme comes into effect, healthcare professionals will be required to have their premises certified. Getting ahead of the curve will help them safeguard their businesses.

Introducing a licensing scheme means patients can be reassured that their chosen practitioner is medically qualified to perform ‘amber’ and ‘red’ procedures in a clean and safe environment. Most importantly, adverse effects can be regulated and handled professionally, which are a common risk of these types of procedures.

What will happen to the big aesthetic brands?

These changes could have a huge impact on big brands and their marketing strategies. Aesthetic companies may need to adjust their messaging or marketing tactics to comply with the new regulations. They might also need to have more oversight on procedures that use their brands. This way, they can make sure they maintain a premium offering and protect their reputation.

While all this will take some work up front, these adjustments could actually benefit big brands, which have a clear opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors by collaborating with clinics to help streamline compliance efforts. Brands might offer support in the form of consulting services, or partnership agreements to ensure that clinics have access to the necessary resources and expertise.

Aesthetics companies, meanwhile, can play an essential role engaging in advocacy efforts to shape the development of the licensing scheme. This could involve working with regulatory authorities (as mentioned above), industry associations, and other stakeholders to ensure that the needs of both brands and clinics are taken into account.

Big brands could benefit from investing in educational initiatives to help clinics understand and comply with the new licensing requirements as well as championing those that do. This could include providing detailed guidelines, online courses, and in-person training sessions to ensure that clinics are equipped to meet regulatory standards.

Investing in educational initiatives for clinics not only ensures compliance with regulatory standards but also presents significant opportunities for big aesthetic brands to enhance their reputation, differentiate themselves in the market, mitigate risks, foster relationships, and drive sales. It's a win-win situation for both brands and clinics, strengthening the overall ecosystem of the aesthetic industry and ensuring a safe and reputable environment for patients.

Overall, big aesthetic brands would need to adapt to ensure compliance while also supporting clinics in meeting their regulatory obligations. Collaboration, education, and innovation are likely to be key strategies in navigating this evolving regulatory landscape.

For more analysis of the health and medicine landscapes, head over to our health and pharma in focus hub.

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Inizio Evoke

Inizio Evoke is a global health marketing, communications, and transformation platform unlocking growth through data-driven insight and human centricity. Purpose-built...

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