Four years after the Nuffield Council on Bioethics recommended that children and young people should not be able to access cosmetic procedures (unless medically recommended), we welcome the introduction of a new law today which restricts access to Botox and cosmetic fillers for under 18s.

The Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act 2021 brings a new law into force in England from today, making it a criminal offence to make arrangements for, or administer, botulinum toxin and cosmetic fillers to persons under the age of 18 years old.

Young people’s access to surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures was a key concern raised in our 2017 report on ethical issues that arise in the context of cosmetic interventions. Following publication of this report we secured meetings with Department of Health and Social Care Ministers to discuss our concerns and to lay the groundwork for this Bill. We were pleased to see our report referenced numerous times in the Second Reading of this Bill in the House of Lords and included in the House of Commons Library briefing for MPs.

The new law comes amidst pressure on the Government to take stronger action to regulate Botox and fillers amongst the whole population, after the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing made recommendations in July this year, strongly in line with our own.

Danielle Hamm, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, said:

“We are delighted that our work to promote ethical practice within the cosmetic procedures industry has contributed to this new law which prevents people from giving Botox or cosmetic fillers on a walk-in basis to children and young people under 18. We feel strongly that children and young people should not be able to access any form of cosmetic procedures other than in the context of multidisciplinary healthcare, and would urge further action to broaden the restrictions to all types of cosmetic procedures.”