Sorry folks, it looks like we can’t actually turn back time with a £20 jar of face cream from Boots. Despite claims from L’Oréal that its face creams Génifique and Youth Code “could turn back time” by altering genes, it looks like they can’t actually back these claims up with, you know, scientific evidence.
Earlier this month the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled advertising charges with L’Oréal USA over its, frankly ridiculous, claims. According to Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, L’Oréal could not support claims that its cosmetics “could turn back time” by altering genes. L’Oréal are now prohibited from making claims about the ability of its products to make people look younger by targeting, boosting, or affecting genes without reliable scientific evidence.
The dispute began back in 2012 when L’Oreal was issued a warning about its claims. If the face creams really could alter genes, they would be considered drugs and thus require approval from the FDA.
The decision came just weeks after the Advertising Standards Association here in England ruled that there isn’t enough evidence to substantiate Imedeen’s claims that its beauty pills, advertised by Christy Turlington, ‘help cure fine lines and wrinkles from within.’ Pfizer, the manufacturer of the pills, produced research to back its claims but the ASA found the research was confusing and that it just wasn’t convincing enough! In its ruling, it stated;
‘The studies involved three, four and six-month trials with the results measured by clinical grading, self-evaluation and visual imaging techniques, but did not use methods to assess direct measures of wrinkles before or after treatment.’
So what do these rulings mean for cosmetics advertising? Are the days of misleading advertisements over? We aren’t convinced. Although the ASA proactively check the media to take action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements, the sheer volume of advertisements means many will go under the radar. The current system is often dependent on members of the public complaining before advertisements will be investigated. Another consideration is timing – the ASA rulings can take as long as six months to rule oman advertisement from when the initial complaint was made. Advertisements are not pulled during the review stage and can continue until such time as the ASA Council decide that they are required to be amended or withdrawn. In many instances the advertisements have already reached the end of their cycle by the time the adjudication even comes out! It seems cosmetic companies are willing to risk the slap on the wrist they’ll receive from the ASA in order to peddle their products.
We may not have seen the back of misleading advertisements but let’s all make an effort to pull cosmetics companies up when they try baffling us