DUBAI //Beauty salons and cosmetic centres have been told they will not be allowed to provide laser hair-removal services from July 27.
Laser machines must be removed from women's salons unless the premises met Dubai Health Authority (DHA) regulations, Dr Mohammed Kayali, head of the regulation section at the DHA, said.
Salons that wanted to continue offering the service would have to "change their facility titles from salon to healthcare facility, by following all the DHA health regulation requirements to be licensed as such", he said.
Specialised dermatologists or plastic surgeons would have to be employed to perform laser hair removal, Dr Kayali said.
In addition to laser hair removal, treatments such as cupping, piercing, teeth whitening and Botox - all services that are often provided at beauty salons - can only be performed after licensing by the DHA.
Teeth whitening, for example, can only be carried out at dental clinics. Botox and mesotherapy - the injection of plant extracts or vitamins to promote weight loss - must be performed by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Piercing must be done by a doctor.
A circular issued by the DHA to all Dubai beauty establishments gave July 27 as the deadline for compliance with the new regulations. However, beauty parlours have until August 31 to apply for new licensing as a healthcare facility, should they wish to continue providing the treatments.
Salons can face closure or fines of up to Dh10,000 if they violate the regulations.
"Hair removal by laser and IPL [intense pulsed light] are considered to be medical procedures, based on regional and international benchmarks," Dr Kayali said.
"The procedure is considered invasive and may lead to complications and side-effects if it is not conducted by trained and qualified healthcare professionals."
Dr Kayali said there might be underlying medical reasons for excessive hair growth, for example a hormonal imbalance that could require medical advice and follow-up.
"We are doing this to ensure patient safety, because the clients at these beauty salons become patients when non-invasive and minimally invasive therapies are introduced as a service," he said. Salon customers might not understand that burns or scarring could occur if treatments were not carried out by a certified professional.
The dermatologist or plastic surgeon hired to perform the treatment does not have to be at the facility full time, but they must be available to operate the laser machines, Dr Kayali said.
The DHA and Dubai Municipality are notifying all beauty salons in the emirate, and both will be carry out inspections from September.
The DHA has also given family doctors and internal medicine specialists the option to perform laser hair-removal services, provided they pass an approved training programme and are certified.
Nurses, physiotherapists, beauty therapists and general practitioners can be licensed as laser hair-removal technicians who can work under the supervision of a specialist doctor.
Women are welcoming the stringent conditions, saying it will make it easier for them to trust the laser hair-removal services offered in beauty salons.
Roba Shanna'a, 29, said a beauty centre on Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai that she has frequented for years offered the service, but no doctor was on hand.
"A young Filipina, one of the beauticians there, is the one who did my laser hair removal," Mrs Shanna'a said.
"I didn't ask about qualifications or anything; I didn't think it was that big a deal, but she didn't do a good job at all and I had inconsistent results with the treatment."
For subsequent treatments, Mrs Shanna'a visited a dermatologist at a health clinic, which she now wishes was her first point of call.
"I was just lucky that I didn't get burnt or have any scarring," she said.