A Consumer NZ mystery shop found seven beauty clinics willing to remove a raised skin spot, when our undercover shopper should have been sent to a GP.

Shoppers visited 46 clinics across the country. The majority of clinics did the right thing and said our shoppers should see a GP but seven clinics in Auckland were willing to use a variety of treatments to take off a raised lesion on our shopper’s arm.

Our shopper had dermal melanocytic naevi, which can be removed once correctly diagnosed but looks similar to types of skin cancer.

Four of the Auckland clinics – Ametrine Rose Health & Beauty, The Eye & Face Institute, Parisian Clinic and Beauty Forever – offered to use a laser treatment on the spot. Amax Laser Hair Removal offered to cut it out and Laser Clinics New Zealand offered a skin-needling treatment. At Q Medispa in Onehunga Heights, our shopper was told the clinic would soon have a machine that would “electrocute” off the spot.

Ametrine Rose and The Eye & Face Institute said staff would receive training as a result of our mystery shop. Parisian Clinic’s owner said “the whole industry needs to be trained better”. Beauty Forever declined to comment on our findings and the three other clinics did not respond to our emails and calls.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the risk of beauty clinics offering treatment was that staff might not recognise the spot as a symptom of skin cancer.

“Given New Zealand’s high skin cancer rate, we think beauty therapists should steer clear of this type of treatment and leave diagnosis to the doctors,” Ms Chetwin said.

Auckland Council’s health and hygiene code of practice states only health practitioners should remove skin lesions. Members of the New Zealand Association of Registered Beauty Therapists are also prohibited from removing unidentifiable lesions and skin tags without permission from a medical practitioner. However, membership is voluntary. None of the clinics that offered a treatment to our Auckland shopper were members of the organisation.

You can read Consumer NZ’s spot removal report online or in the June issue of Consumer magazine.