Confusion is rife as local authorities seem to be making up the rules as they go along with regard to topical anaesthetics for micro-needling procedures.

And it is having a real impact on the business for salons with some therapists abandoning micro-needling treatments despite being completely within their rights to perform them.

A report in Professional Beauty highlights the issue.

It reveals that “several local councils have contacted the salons that operate in their borough to let them know that the terms of their licence no longer allow them to sell or apply anaesthetic to their clients prior to needling treatments”.


One salon owner who didn’t want to be named told Professional Beauty that she’d received the news from her council rep on a visit to renew a licence. She claims to the magazine that she was also informed that she could no longer use the same roller on multiple clients, regardless of the stringent sterilisation protocol advised by her distributor.

Despite being insured to provide the treatment, inclusive of supplying, patch testing and applying the appropriate topical anaesthetic to clients prior to treatment, she was asked to remove miconeedling from her menu.

She told Professional Beauty: “I was gobsmacked as I hadn’t heard anything about it. I even had refresher training booked for the treatment,” she says, adding that microblading technicians in her borough had faced the same issue, in that anyone non-medic could no longer sell and apply anaesthetic to clients.

Another salon owner who no longer carries out the treatment according to Professional Beauty is Helen French, owner of Beauty by Helen French in St Helens. She says she was issued a notice from Environ distributor IIAA in April, which stated that because of the changes to many councils’ rules, a nurse or doctor would now have to apply her anaesthetic and be present for the duration of the needling treatment. She told the magazine: “There have never been any issues in the past; the training from IIAA is extensive, everything has to be properly prepared to medical standards so that it’s all sterile,” says French.

With seemingly different rules from different training providers and in different boroughs, French is frustrated at not knowing where the safety message originated, or why it’s been given. She said: “I understand the reasoning in terms of having someone medically trained there who could deal with complications if anything happens, but we’re not getting any answers and feel we’ve been stopped while others can still carry on.”

Lee Holloway, health and safety advisor at IIAA, commented: “While there has been no direct change in legislation, IIAA has received increasing feedback about the inconsistent views of UK local environmental health authorities in relation to enforcing the Medicines Act.

“Some state it is an offence for non-medical persons to administer topical anaesthetic whilst others interpret that it is acceptable. Given the ambiguity of the current legal position and what appears to be increasing scrutiny, comment and intent to tighten accepted good practice and legal requirements in our sector from government, the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners and also from what we perceive to be public expectation…IIAA has taken the view that, to protect our salon customers from the legal and reputational impacts of the risks of topical anaesthesia and put them in a stronger position in relation to the perceived changing legal landscape, it now feels necessary to ask our skincare professionals to use topical anaesthetic under the guidance of a medically qualified professional.”

So – topical anaesthetics only used “under the guidance” of a medically qualified professional.

What does that mean?

Is “under the guidance” by telephone, video link, after a prescription has been issued?

But none of this is illegal.

Are you confused?

Are you worried about what this means for your business?

Do we need new national guidelines and clarity?