As a global recession hits the beauty industry and minimal invasive (non surgical) treatments advance, consumers are cutting down on costly in-clinic surgical procedures and opting for online DIY options that are becoming more widely available, socially acceptable and claim to yield the same results.
This has caused online pharmaceutical retailers to sprout up overnight in order to satisfy the growing global demand for cheaper alternatives which people are more than willing to self-administer with simple instructions similar to those of flat packed furniture.
A large selection of Do-It-Yourself kits for cosmetic injectables can be found online with contents ranging from dermal fillers and botulinum toxins to high strength chemical peels and fat dissolving (injection lipolysis) kits. The products, many manufactured in China as generics or under their own brand can be bought via the Internet (without prescription) and shipped around the world, escaping the watchful eyes of many customs authorities. This has also given rise to many uncertified part time beauty physicians making extra pocket money while in college serving their friends and peers. Prices for a complete DIY kit start at around $150 and contain needles, saline for toxin reconstitution, instructions including a facial map of injection sites and a 100 unit vial of botulinum toxin, or around $130 for a 1ml syringe of hyaluronic acid. These ridiculously cheap prices are no where close to the thousands that licensed professionals charge for their expertise.
Numerous websites online can also be found selling PMMA (polymethyl and methacrylate) based dermal fillers which are a permanent filler substance more commonly known to practitioners as an ingredient in the FDA approved Artefill® branded product. Injecting permanent fillers by oneself or by an inexperienced person can result in horrific results or even worse, a costly surgical reconstruction.
Licensed brands, such as Botox®, Vistabel®, Azzalure®, Xeomin® & Dysport® are randomly checked by the “National Institute for Biological Standards and Control” in the UK to verify that the content is up to manufacturers specifications before entering the supply chain. Such checks do not exist in other countries where some of these substances are manufactured which makes it therefore nearly impossible to verify the unit levels of the vials or potency against what is printed on the labels.
Furthermore the lack of multilateral regulations, the ease of which approval of sales can be obtained in Europe and the lack of clinical data required result in these kits being shipping all around the world. This has given many of the online retailers that are flooding the market, the confidence to advertise that the goods have a 100% success rate of reaching the end purchaser.
Customs and FDA officials also face difficulties in determining the content of the cyringes as labels are other vague or provide little to no information.
Even when financial means dry up, the desire to look good, youthful and immaculate still remains, with consumers starting at an even younger age compared to the previous generation. This will continue to benefit the online Pharma industry as well as the growth in popularity of DIY beauty kits which will continue to put immense pressure on traditional beauty centers.