Beauty Shows: Buyer Beware

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This weekend sees the start of the 2018 beauty exhibition calendar, but this year it is more important than ever for visitors to be aware of what they might be buying into.

It goes without saying that you should always research any new product or treatment before you invest in it, but this mostly to be sure it fits in with your business, offers what you need and is something you can sell with conviction. When walking around the stands of any beauty exhibition you might wary of the hype around some brands or questioning of their claims, but its okay to assume that everything is legal, right? Wrong!

Teeth Whitening

A few years ago teeth whitening first entered the beauty industry and it created a grey area in the law. However, this area is no longer grey as it is now illegal for anyone who is not a dentist to offer teeth whitening treatments. You can sell DIY kits for your clients to use at home, but as soon as you offer any dental advice, instruction or even the facilities to perform the treatment, you will be breaking the law. Offering the LED light to perform the treatment under your roof is also against the law.

The major beauty insurance companies refuse to offer cover for teeth whitening because of this, and gradually salons across the country are being prosecuted for offering the treatment. It no longer matters what products are used in the treatment or what strength they are, the treatment itself is illegal. The General Dental Council is now prosecuting salons that are found to be offering illegal teeth whitening, with another tale of woe appearing in the Daily Mail just this week. Legal action against your salon can result in hefty fines and could eventually cost you your business.

Beauty Exhibitions

It would be easy to assume that when you walk through the doors of a beauty trade exhibition you will not be faced with exhibitors offering treatments that are illegal, but sadly you would be wrong. The Professional Beauty exhibition at the ExCel Centre this weekend end has not just one, but five different companies offering teeth whitening products. To me, this seems a contradiction in terms. A company representing the “professional” side of the industry and currently promoting their Save Our Salons campaign has a duty of care to make sure the therapists they invite through the doors are not being unwittingly lead down a path to prosecution.

It is worth pointing out that it is not illegal for these teeth whitening providers to be at the shows or to sell their goods to therapists. It is only illegal when those trusting therapists offer a treatment to a member of the public.

I contacted Professional Beauty directly about this issue and was sent the following generic statement from Mark Moloney, the director of Trades Exhibitions Ltd who organise the show:

“Professional Beauty has been serving the beauty profession for 30 years. We have played their part in the growth of the industry, both by attracting new people into the profession and by encouraging greater professionalism among existing practitioners. Clearly we would never knowingly allow any company to exhibit who breaks the law. If we found a company doing so, we would immediately close their stand. More than this, we have a duty of care to our visitors. If we believe a company cannot provide a reasonable level of customer service post purchase or if we believe their products or services are sub-standard we will not let them exhibit. In regards to cosmetic teeth whitening, we have seen legal documentation that the companies who exhibit with us operate within the law. We are advised that these companies are trading legally. We are aware of companies that sell products with higher than the permissible levels or peroxide; these companies cannot exhibit at our shows. Companies that sell cosmetic teeth whitening products and administer or offer advice cannot exhibit, nor can those who encourage therapists to do so exhibit.”

Frankly this does not seem to address any of the relevant issues. Their statement has doubt thrown over it when you see a recent advertisement from Tooth Fairy who will be exhibiting at the show stating, “The law has changed
into “one does not have to be a dentist to perform this treatment since it is now a cosmetic product”.” I have raised this with Professional Beauty who have said they are looking into it but as yet have failed to provide any further response.

The important message to anyone visiting the shows is to be aware of what you are buying. Don’t get suckered in by a good sales pitch, ask questions, do your homework and then do it again! This is not just relevant to teeth whitening, it is something you should be doing anyway, but the controversy over this treatment really highlights the need to be fully informed about everything you take on.

If you are unsure about what you allowed to offer or have any questions on the legalities of teeth whitening, you should contact the General Dental Council for clarification.

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