The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is seriously cracking down on beauty and aesthetics businesses illegally promoting botulinum toxin injections on social media.
Working with the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), alongside the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the watchdog issued an Enforcement Notice to more than 130,000 firms in the beauty industry on the rules around advertising botulinum toxin, which comes into force on January 31.
The ASA is using “monitoring technology” to find these problematic ads, flagging them to Facebook and Instagram for removal. The watchdog will be cracking down on paid-for ads, non-paid-for posts and influencer marketing, as well as promotional advertising such as “botox parties” or treatments as a competition prize.
It is illegal to advertise prescriptiononly medicines, such as botox, to the public, even if the medicine is administered by a registered medical professional. CAP and the ASA will refer non-compliant sellers to the MHRA, which has investigatory and enforcement powers.
CAP is advising businesses to remove the following in their advertising:
• Remove any direct reference to Botox or other botulinum toxins, including names such as “beautytox” or “beautox”. This includes in images and hashtags.
• Don’t use alternatives such as “wrinkle-relaxing injections” as this still counts as promotion of a prescription-only medicine.
• Don’t refer to treating medical conditions in a way that suggests you are promoting a prescriptiononly medicine, for example, “injections for excessive sweating”.
• You can promote the service you provide and the consultation, such as “a consultation for the treatment of lines and wrinkles”, but you must be careful not to directly or indirectly advertise a prescription-only medicine.