Commissioner's Blog: From glam to grim - When beauty becomes pain

This announcement is for: 
ConsumerProduct safety

Nerve damage, scarring, pain, burns, infections and psychological trauma. No, this isn’t about medical negligence, it’s about injuries received from beauty and cosmetic treatments.


How would you feel if a simple trip to get your eyelashes looking lush for an event ends with red, infected eyes and a course of antibiotics, or your first session of laser hair or tattoo removal results in painful burns that leave a scar?


These are some of the complaints Consumer Protection has been receiving from Western Australians with 29 complaints already received this year. A further 28 people have made enquiries with us about unsatisfactory experiences with operators in the beauty industry. Last year we saw a total of 112 complaints and 111 enquiries. Most problems relate to laser hair and tattoo removal, infections from nail salons, cosmetic tattooing gone wrong, waxing injuries or poor quality lash extensions.


While most operators are experienced and offer a professional service, WA consumers are urged to exercise caution when seeking beauty and cosmetic treatments. Botched procedures can have a significant impact.


If something goes wrong, a refund, credit or other remedy offered by the business would normally resolve consumer complaints, but this may not satisfy in a situation where someone is injured. They could also be seeking damages or compensation, which can only be achieved by taking civil court action.


The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) provides guarantees that the goods and services supplied will be of acceptable quality and be fit for any disclosed purpose as well as a requirement that operators carry out treatments or procedures with due care and skill.


Where a guarantee is breached, the ACL permits consumers to claim what is called “consequential damages”, which means the trader is obliged to reimburse the customer’s subsequent costs of any remedial care required to treat any injuries and symptoms caused by the original botched treatment.


What about other laws and regulations? This will depend on the treatment being carried out, as different procedures fall under different laws, regulations or codes of practice. Some treatments or procedures, such as eye lash extensions, do not have specific regulations.


You should never assume the person delivering a treatment or procedure has a medical qualification as this may not be required but it’s still worth asking about their skills.


Check that the facility is clean and hygienic. Ask to see the products being used and read the label to check for anything you may be allergic to. Consider having an allergy test done first. While allergies aren't common, it's better to be safe than sorry.


Be wary of discounted prices that are far less than competitors – it may suggest counterfeit products or unqualified practitioners.


Importantly, see a health professional if you experience any discomfort, pain or irritation post-treatment. Problems can quickly go from bad to worse, so don't wait.


We urge consumers who have had a bad experience to report it to Consumer Protection, or specific regulators of that procedure, so that the circumstances can be investigated, and appropriate action taken.


Complaints can be lodged on the Consumer Protection website. Enquiries can be made by email or by calling 1300 30 40 54.

Consumer Protection
Media release
01 Jul 2024

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