Jessica-Jane Clement explores the UK's arguably under-regulated beauty industry and meets young people who have had bad experiences with lip filler bought online and with tattoos.
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I'm Jessica-Jane Clement and when I'm not working as a model
or trying to protect you from being scammed on The Real Hustle,
you'll find me at the beauticians, trying out new treatments.
But I've learned from my own experience
it can be like the Wild West out there.
In most parts of the country, you, me, or anyone can open up a salon.
You don't need qualifications to practise
and, I can tell you from experience,
there's some shocking work out there.
A few years ago, I had some lip fillers and ended up with
two small hard lumps right in the middle of my lips. Attractive.
Each week, we're going to be investigating various beauty
disaster stories and trying to discover what went wrong.
the online beauty kits that turn nasty.
Blood everywhere. I thought, "God, it's like a slaughterhouse!"
I was thinking that
he was going to lose his lips.
And I go undercover in a tattoo parlour
and expose outrageous claims.
For 30-year-old Lancashire lad Richard Marr, looks are everything.
If I didn't look after myself, I'd hate to think what I'd look like.
I'd hate to be pale and hairy. I've always got my finger on the pulse of fashion.
Oh, he's dead vain.
And he's been like that from a child.
He'd only wear what he picked. He's just like a chicken walking round.
Richard's life is a social whirl and he spends a small fortune
keeping up appearances.
The first thing I got done was a tattoo when I was 13.
Bleached my teeth, had my nipple pierced.
Constantly on the sun-bed. I started getting my eyebrows threaded.
Botox, which cost £200.
With a big birthday on the horizon,
Richard felt the need to go even further.
I'm definitely not looking forward to my 30th and turning middle-aged,
so I'm going to get some plump lips to go with it.
I had it in my head I'd look amazing for my 30th birthday.
But his pursuit of the perfect pout ended in disaster.
I just googled DIY lip plumping at home
and the first one that came up was this company.
It was £100 for the stuff I chose.
I borrowed my mum's credit card to buy it.
Shockingly, £100 was all it took for an amateur like Richard
to get his hands on injectable fillers.
I just thought, "I can't wait to show my lips off at work."
I even had the back-up story of boasting I'd done it myself.
A few days later, his plumping kit arrived,
in it, a pack of three unmarked syringes,
a tube of cream and some printed instructions.
He set to work.
I got the kit and I looked and thought,
"Well, there's the syringes and the cream that numbs your lips."
I undid the cap, smeared it over my face.
Squeezed my lips together, like that, and just went straight in.
With the first bit of filler injected, Richard felt like a pro.
And then I thought, "Well, I've got a little bit in."
And then I went right across the top and a bit in the bottom.
Although he'd never done this before,
he injected filler into his top lip 12 times.
By this point, there was blood dripping everywhere.
I thought, "God, it's like a slaughterhouse!"
I didn't know he'd gone upstairs to do it,
and when he came down, I couldn't believe it.
He had holes in his lips, all along the top, dripping with blood.
Despite the agony, as he went to bed,
Richard hoped his new lips would be an overnight success.
I woke up in the morning and looked in the mirror.
Oh, my God! What have I done?
I thought, "Oh, my God, they'll kill me.
What can I do?" I thought, I'd better get my mum up.
It was horrifying, really.
He was in such a foul mood because it hurt so much.
In panic, Richard called his GP.
The doctor couldn't understand me, so my mum had to speak to him.
He said just to see if it went down, but if there was
any sign of infection, to go straight to A&E.
But Richard's lips ballooned.
They got bigger
It was the Sunday morning
when I woke up and they were massive.
They had taken over my face.
I knew they were infected then.
They were just dripping yellow gunge all the time.
I took him to hospital and they couldn't believe what he'd done.
At A&E, Richard received some shocking news.
The doctor said the only thing they could do was give me
some really strong antibiotics, but if my body kept reacting to it,
they were going to have to cut my lips open and take everything out.
I think I was just in shock.
I remember coming home and crying to my mum.
I was really scared, thinking in the back of my mind,
"He's going to lose his lips."
Lip fillers are best off in the hands of trained professionals,
they charge £250 plus for luscious lips
plumped up with hyaluronic acid,
that can last for anything between four and nine months.
But the internet is like the Wild West.
Fillers bought online may be a cheaper option,
but DIY plumping could leave you with a trout pout.
Now, from one needle nightmare to another.
I'm a massive fan of tattoos and with one in five of us
now having a splash of body art, I'm certainly not alone.
Fellow tat lover Yorkshire lass Zoe May is a mum of two.
I love this one. It's my favourite one.
She might like classical music,
but her taste in tats is far more adventurous.
This one, I had done after I'd had my second daughter.
Altogether, I think I've got about 15 tattoos.
I get them because I like them. I think they look great.
That was tattoo number 14.
And her fascination with tats runs in the family.
That's my butter-flower.
Her mum, 64-year-old Denise, has seven and counting.
That's the first one, on my arm, and then I have both my feet tattooed.
But seven months ago, the family love affair with tats came to an end
when Zoe went to a city centre parlour
in search of a pretty butterfly.
It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.
I had only intended to enquire about it and they said,
"We can do it now, if you want."
It was £20 to have it done, which I didn't think was too bad.
But once in the chair, Zoe began to regret her snap decision.
The girl that did the tattoo seemed a bit nervous.
She kept going over the same bits again.
I questioned how long she'd been doing it for
and she claimed she'd been tattooing for a few years.
It hurt when it was being done.
I did start to think, "I wish she wasn't doing it."
After an hour, the butterfly was fully formed.
Then they just gave me a piece of paper with after-care instructions
and I said to myself, "I'll take really good of it and hopefully,
"it will be all right once it's healed."
But one week later and Zoe's butterfly was not sitting pretty.
The scabbing was really heavy, it was really thick, it looked awful,
it had started cracking in the middle and it was weeping and bleeding.
I saw Zoe nearly every day
and she kept showing me it,
how bad it was healing and how nasty it was going, so I said,
"Perhaps you should have a word with the doctor."
But it was when the scabs peeled away, Zoe got the full picture.
I've been left with a raised, lumpy scar, so I'm a bit gutted.
It's disgraceful that she's put her trust in somebody
and they've ended up scarring her to such an extent.
Tattoos have never been so popular.
Today's are done with an electric needle,
injecting coloured particles made from minerals, metals
or plastics into the skin at a rate of up to 3,000 times a minute.
But in an industry where you don't need qualifications to set up shop,
be on your guard.
I'm in Hull to find out more about Zoe's bad tat.
Zoe isn't the only girl in town who likes a tattoo, I love them,
so I really feel sorry for her
because the thought of a tattoo going wrong on me
is one of my absolute worst nightmares.
-I'm Jess. Nice to meet you.
-Now, we're going to be talking tattoos, aren't we?
So, I should really show you some of mine.
-I've got my rose. You've got a rose on your arm as well.
-I've got that one.
-Oh, that's lovely!
It's my children.
-I've got a swallow.
-That's so cute.
Now I've seen the best, it's time to see the worst.
Let me have a good old look at it then.
-That is really scarred, isn't it?
-What do you think went wrong?
She had a tremble.
She would draw a bit and then put the gun down and wipe it.
Pick it up, carry on, put it back down again and wipe it.
I've never known that before.
I don't know about with yours, but they keep a firm hold of everything.
-She's gone a lot deeper than she should have.
-Then what happened?
The scabs started forming, they were thick,
as if you'd cut yourself quite badly.
I went to the doctor and she said, "You need some antibiotics."
You don't want something like this on you, especially on your hand.
That's it, it's not in a place I can cover it up.
Zoe wants to show me a reassuring sign
that attracted her to the tattoo studio in the first place.
This tattoo salon is claimed to be registered with
the Healthcare Commission. That's a big claim.
These are the two main windows you see from the outside where
they have logos of the guilds they say they're members of.
It takes up quite a lot of the shop window, doesn't it?
It's quite prominently displayed. That to me indicates
some sort of official governing body or whatever,
are monitoring them to make sure that everything's as it should be.
I want to have a look at this salon
and find out what could have gone wrong.
I think we should find out if there's anything that can be done
-to help you with your tattoo.
-That would be great.
Gobsmackingly, Richard Marr was able to buy
injectable fillers over the internet.
He was left with a bigger pout than he bargained for
and now he's worried he's been left with permanent damage.
When I do smile, there's a little lump just in the middle here.
I've arranged for him to come to London
to meet a leading practitioner in botox and dermal fillers.
Dr Raina's going to cast her professional eye on Richard's lips.
Tell me, what brings you here today?
Basically, I bought some stuff off the internet to plump my lips up
and I did it myself.
You did your lips yourself?
I did my lips myself, yes,
and they became really badly infected and blew right up.
This is the kit that came online and, erm...
That's basically it.
How did you know how to inject yourself?
Because I attended a training course
and until I got confident in injecting other people,
it took me a fair while.
I didn't know what I was doing.
How many times did you inject your lips?
Across the top, it must have been about 12 times.
-12 stabs of the needle?
-Basically, like that.
I've got some pictures here.
These were, like, days after.
There's quite, some really bad ones.
-Oh, no, Richard, you didn't do that to yourself!
It's crazy, isn't it?
I can't believe somebody sold you this product. They're the people I'm angry at, not you!
-Yeah, and I can't believe how easy it was to buy it!
They didn't ask you anything, what you were going to do with it?
No, nothing at all.
-I'd be worried if a patient walked in with these lips three days later.
Dr Raina wants to get to the crux of the problem
and needs to know more about the pack of filler Richard received.
It was three syringes and I used one syringe.
That's like, that's basically just the instructions I got with it.
It's saying it's HA, which is hyaluronic acid, which is fine,
but every hyaluronic acid I have seen thus far is transparent.
This looks like toothpaste. We don't really know what this is.
This sounds worrying.
If it isn't lip filler, what has Richard injected into his lips?
For a lip, this is a huge needle.
Raina, why would they have put such a huge needle on a product
that was designed for your lips?
Is that something they've done wrong?
The only time I've used a big needle for fillers
is if I'm going to be injecting
the really thick filler into the cheeks...
and I want to inject deeply and on to the bone.
It's very thick product.
This is what proper lip filler looks like.
-To my knowledge, it's to be colourless.
If our expert doesn't recognise the product, what hope did Richard have?
We really need to know if this mystery filler
has left any lasting damage.
I'm just going to have a feel.
Oh, so far I can't feel anything.
There is a little lump, that will probably go away with time.
-I think you've been SO lucky.
You've had a bit of a result then, haven't you?
I've had an extremely lucky get away from this, haven't I?
-I think you have.
-Could have gone so wrong.
But this has now totally put you off?
-Yeah, I'm absolutely gobsmacked.
If you ever want to have your lips done,
-please go to a professional and have it done.
-Thank you very much.
-Thank you so much.
I'm more convinced now than ever that suppliers should not be able
to sell injectable fillers to amateurs like Richard.
I'm constantly surprised that...
people are actually getting these things on the internet really easily
and have no concept beforehand about how easily things can go wrong.
Yorkshire lass Zoe May
believes her spur-of-the-moment visit to a tattoo parlour
has left her with a long-lasting scar.
To find out her long-term prognosis
I'm sending her to London's Royal Free Hospital
to see a leading laser-removal specialist.
If they can't do anything with it, I'll be absolutely gutted because I don't really want that there.
It got really infected, I've been left with a big scar now.
Apparently, because of that, I can't do anything with it.
Tell me exactly what happened afterwards.
It started to scab up really heavily.
It was splitting in the middle and it was weeping and bleeding.
Like I say, it was warm to the touch,
so I went to see my GP who gave me antibiotics for it.
You can see the scarring follows very much the design of the tattoo, doesn't it?
So, it sort of suggests that it's the needling that's the cause, I think.
It looks to me as if the scarring's been settling over the years,
-They usually do.
-Yeah, it's not quite as bad as it was.
In an ideal world, what would you like to happen?
I'd like to get rid of it altogether, to be quite honest.
Now, you know, it's been nine months nearly.
-Surgical options, you can cut the scar out and re-stitch it.
That will leave you with a surgical scar,
but your body will heal the scar the best,
more than I can, or anyone else can.
So, the scar might be there for some time, but what about the butterfly?
We can certainly fade a lot of the tattoo with laser treatment.
If you have a treatment, say, every six to eight weeks,
and that interval is to allow the tattoo to fade a little bit,
and then you have another go...
and you keep repeating the treatment
-until you've got it as far as you can.
Erm, so that'll be at least a year, quite possibly two.
Well, I've had it for this long,
I think I can wait a little bit longer then! Thank you.
There is no quick fix for Zoe, so I'm determined to find out more
about the tattoo parlour she thinks is to blame.
Now, Zoe was reassured because there was a big Healthcare Commission's logo in the shop window,
but I've done a little bit of digging
and I've found out that in the past they were registered,
but it was because they had a laser system.
But it's very unclear on the website
that the registration solely relates to its lasers
because it actually has nothing to do with the tattooing.
But it turns out they shouldn't actually be using this logo at all.
The Healthcare Commission actually wound up in March 2009.
It was replaced by a body called the Care Quality Commission.
They stopped requiring registrations for lasers in September 2010.
So, there's absolutely no valid reason to have this logo on here
or in the shop window because it's completely out of date.
So, I'm back in Hull to find out if the tattoo parlour
have simply forgotten to take the signs down,
or are using them to reassure customers.
And to get an answer I'm going undercover.
I'm about to go into the tattoo studio,
I'll to act like a tattoo virgin.
A little bit nervous, don't really know what I want,
and ask for some reassurance.
'As well as my cover story, I'm wearing a hidden camera.'
-Got your camera on?
-I've got mine on.
'And I've got a fake boyfriend too.
'I'll ask the manager why I should pick this tattoo studio
'over all the other ones and see if he brings up
'the Healthcare Commission registration as a reason why.'
There's the tattoo parlour and I can see the logo.
So, we're going in and I want to talk to the manager.
My dad, bless him, I love him to bits,
he's not worried about me getting a tattoo,
-he's worried about the actual tattoo shop that I come in to.
And he's just, "What if it's this, what if it's that."
What can I say to him to put him at ease?
So that, cos I'm going to have my...
'Bingo and it's about to get worse.'
He was telling me about the Healthcare Commission registration,
he even used it as a selling point.
Zoe thought that that logo was making her safer.
And, according to Zoe, that was wasn't the case.
I definitely want to get the tattoo parlour's side of the story.
They'll be hearing from me and I'll do everything I can to get that logo down.
For now, I'm back on lippy Richard's case.
When I took him to see a specialist, she set alarm bells ringing.
She wasn't convinced that the product Richard got was lip filler.
So I've been doing some digging.
I've gone on to this website Richard used,
and this is definitely what Richard ordered.
It's called HA Confort and it's used for lip correction and enhancement.
So, being a bit confused,
I've placed the exact same order as Richard did
and this is what I received.
As you can see it's a syringe with a clear liquid,
with quite a small needle.
This is what Richard got.
It's white, looks a bit like toothpaste
and the needle is so much longer and so much thicker.
So, Richard was sent the wrong product,
but because he's not a pro he didn't spot the mix up.
Now, to be fair,
it does say here that this product should
only be used by professionals.
'But there was nothing on the site stopping a regular punter
'like Richard from buying the product.'
So, what I want to do now is contact the supplier
and see what they have to say about the mix up
and why they're happy to just sell it to members of the public.
While I wait for the reply,
I'm going to make sure Richard never turns to DIY fillers again.
I've enlisted the help of make-up maestro, Kevin Fortune.
Kevin looks after the luscious lips of the like of Heidi Klum
and Alexa Chung, and he's got a few tricks up his sleeve for Richard.
He wants to get Richard to focus on his natural features
and show him a painless way of making his lips look fuller.
My mouth's quite small and on pictures, I look really weird to myself.
One of the things that we used to do on film,
is where you're growing your moustache here,
you can cut around it and I want to show you that,
give the illusion of a thicker lip.
This is a free, cheap and easy solution.
What I'm trying to do here, is just to expose the Cupid's bow.
Oh yes, it does make a difference.
The next trick that I want to show you is a lip pencil.
The best thing to do is to do dots.
This will give a softer edge.
Definitely, they look more meaty, definitely.
Finally Richard, lip plumps and lip stimulators.
Let's put this on and see if your lip
starts to plump and swell before our very eyes.
Plumpers use ingredients like menthol
to temporarily irritate the lips and make them swell.
I like that, they look really pinky, brilliant, yes.
You realise now that you don't need a needle to get that pout.
I don't need the drastic changes.
This whole experience has taught me that I'm very lucky
to have got away with what happened to me in the first place
and not to concentrate on everything I think is wrong with my features.
Back to Zoe.
She believes she was left badly scarred
by a visit to a tattoo studio and she's not alone.
But in an industry where there's no recognised standards, how do you know you're in safe hands?
Wouldn't it be easier and safer if there was a simple qualification
that proved that your tattooist was trained?
I think it's time for change.
I've pulled together the great and the good of the tattoo world
to try and convince them.
They've a lot to say on the matter.
Overwhelmingly, the industry rejects training course.
Who's going to teach tattooing?
They'll be tattooists, or so-called tattooists, that can't tattoo.
To get the ball rolling, I'm showing this lot
photos of bad tats and I'm starting with Zoe's.
In my opinion, this is a very, very, poorly executed tattoo.
The skin has been overworked which has caused scarring.
If my daughter came home with that on,
I would go and pay a visit to the tattoo studio.
If I saw that, I'd be like, "I hope YOU like it."
And Zoe's not the only victim of a bad tattoo.
This is what they asked for.
At the moment, the only checks done on tattoo parlours
are by the Environmental Health Officers,
so I want to know what it takes to get a licence from them.
The sort of things we're looking for is to see whether the premises
are safe, clean and in good repair, the overalls worn and clean.
Are there washing facilities that are for sole use, not shared.
Containers that hold the dyes, they've got to be disposed of.
They're the basic things to be looked at.
There's nothing in that checklist that says
you look at the individual artist and check their work?
There's a gap, yes, and whether the quality of the art is good or not
isn't an issue for us.
We want to make sure that infection is controlled.
Hairdressers, beauticians, they have qualifications
and they handle nail files and scissors.
Tattooists don't have any qualifications.
What do you think about having a Government-approved qualification?
There are courses offered everywhere.
Tattoo schools, tattoo academies, this and that.
Some are one-day courses, £1,000 and you get a diploma.
The pieces of paper they're giving, these diplomas are worth nothing.
The qualification wouldn't be judging
the quality of their artistry or their technical ability.
It wouldn't be possible to do that.
That's what this qualification would be.
We're not talking about a tattoo training day in a college
with a teacher at the front with a tattoo machine,
people sitting down with their plastic skin tattooing.
You can't teach people to tattoo like that.
It's not something you can learn in a short period of time.
The industry rejects training courses,
but supports apprenticeships.
The traditional way with an apprentice, you start at the bottom.
You clean the toilets, the sinks, the equipment and you build up.
To me, that is better than any qualification you'll get.
There's nothing to say you've got it.
They can say, "I did a two-year apprenticeship,"
and it's like, how do we know that you're lying?
What about if this qualification was they serve an apprenticeship,
they then go and be tested to see whether that person is competent?
It'd be a lot of work to work out how that could be done
but it should be possible.
An industry-approved system of apprenticeship
would be a really good idea.
I think we've got a bit of a breakthrough there.
They've all agreed on a Government-approved qualification
as long as it's tied in with an apprenticeship, which is great.
They've certainly got a loud voice, so let's hope they use it.
Well, it's a result.
And Zoe May has made a decision too.
They can't be allowed to get away with that
because there's the risk that other people
are going to go and suffer the same thing.
I've been to see a solicitor
and I am in the process of taking legal action against them.
So Zoe's tattoo is now evidence,
so it means she won't be starting her laser removal for some time yet.
And we've been in touch with the tattoo parlour
and they told us they're denying Zoe's allegations
and can't comment on her case while legal proceedings are on-going.
I still want to know
what they've done about those Healthcare Commission logos.
Have those out-of-date signs finally been taken down?
So, amazing news, I've just gone in to check out the tattoo studio
and sure enough, since our investigation began,
those misleading signs have been taken down.
And I also heard back from the supplier
of the lip filler that Richard bought over the internet.
They say they strive to fulfil all orders with utmost accuracy.
They also said they clearly advise,
both online and in their literature, that dermal filler products
should only be used by licensed skin care professionals.
They say they were unaware that Richard planned to self-administer the product
and are deeply concerned he didn't report the adverse reaction.
And we've had a result.
They say they'll implement new, stringent licensure
and professional documentation requirements.
He was just sanding it down so far.
I said to him, "OW!" because it hurt.
The smell was like a rotten old piece of meat.
Look how that's shaving through the skin.
They used this thing that looked like a hot plate in a restaurant.
Oh my God! I didn't think they were going to be this bad.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
In most parts of the UK, the beauty industry is unregulated. It is up to beauticians and hairdressers to get qualifications, so anyone could open up a salon. Be sure that when you book in for a treatment, you are putting your looks in the hands of a pro, or, as Jessica-Jane Clement finds out in this consumer series, it could turn ugly.
Jess is on the case of cosmetic lip fillers that should be in the hands of pros, but are easily bought on the internet. Blackpool lad Richard ended up in A&E after injecting himself with filler he bought online; his lips ballooned to gobsmacking proportions and now he is worried he has got lumpy lips for life.
Jess also enters the world of tattoo parlours - in an industry where there are no recognised qualifications, customers need to be on their guard. Jess meets Zoe, who wanted a butterfly tattoo but ended up with a scarred hand, and goes undercover to check out the tattoo studio responsible.