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New guidance to inform choices about cosmetic procedures

The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) has released advice to help people make informed decisions about cosmetic treatments.

The practical advice, which has been compiled in partnership with the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) and the British Beauty Council, has been tailored to support people at three stages of life.

Young people have said that the Covid-19 lockdown has intensified their body image concerns.  Non-surgical cosmetic treatments are on the increase, especially in younger people.

Marketing of products and services such as dermal fillers and injectable botulinum toxins injections are sometimes inappropriate and is increasingly targeting younger audiences through social media.

Non-surgical cosmetic procedures are provided in an unregulated market in which practitioners have widely varying qualifications and training.

Previous research has shown that 51% of 18–34-year-olds considered accessing a cosmetic treatment in the next 12 months. 

woman in white sleeveless shirt with blue eyes

More than 90% of 160 members of MHF’s Our Personal Experience Network who responded to a body image survey in 2021 said they believed that cosmetic providers must be registered and insured, which is not the case for non-surgical practices. More than 43% of people felt uninformed about the risks or side effects of cosmetic treatments. 

Top tips for dealing with body image concerns have been released, as well as a comic strip that gives advice to young people in a visually friendly way.

The tips include recognising unrealistic body images on social media, taking regular breaks from social media, checking the facts first before deciding on treatments, and building a positive feedback loop between you and your friends.

Katrina Jenkins, targeted programmes manager at the Mental Health Foundation, said: ‘Body image is so closely linked to our mental health.

‘Social media, peers and family can all impact how we feel about ourselves, and the image we have of our own bodies. Making informed choices is central to our wellbeing, and this is also true for decisions about our bodies, which are unique to us and our individual needs.

‘Asking the right questions and being informed means we can be protected against predatory marketing and make decisions that support our safety and mental health in the long run.’

The MHF and the JCCP believe that everyone who seeks cosmetic procedures should be provided with accurate information that informs choice, and increases awareness of how these procedures interact with their mental health.

Photo Credit – Joeyy Lee

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