According to Britain’s Daily Mail, the company has had to promise to federal regulators that it won’t make any further claims that a pair of its popular anti-aging potions “target” or “affect” genes, part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The FTC says that L’Oreal is guilty of making “false and unsubstantiated claims” about the supposed anti-aging benefits of its Genifique and Youth Code products because they simply are not supported by hard science.
“It would be nice if cosmetics could alter our genes and turn back time. But L’Oreal couldn’t support these claims,” said Jessica Rich, the FTC director, according to the Daily Mail.
L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, had previously claimed that its Genifique products, which can sell for as much as $132 per container, are “clinically proven to boost genes” as well as stimulate the production of “youth proteins,” which ostensibly result in “visibly younger skin” in one week.
According to the Daily Mail, the product’s website features mentions of “cutting-edge science” as well as claims that the potion “recaptures the key signs of youth.” Its “proof” section contains a handful of consumer testimonials, including this one from an “Anonymous” user: “This is the most amazing product, I will never go without it again.”
‘What if you could grow young?’
More from the Daily Mail:
As for L’Oreal’s Youth Code serum, which is priced much cheaper at $25 a container, ‘ten years of gene research’ has led the company to claim: ‘We now have the knowledge to help you begin cracking the code to younger acting skin.’
A print advertisement for the cream entices, “Imagine, what if you could grow young?” and adds that it “boosts skin’s natural powers of regeneration so it regains the qualities of young skin.”
Under the FTC settlement, L’Oreal is prohibited henceforth from claiming that any of its products “affects genes,” unless they can be supported by hard scientific evidence, the agency said in a release. Also, the company is prohibited from making money off of any statements that misrepresent the results of any study or any testing.
Additionally, the FTC said in a statement, “The settlement also prohibits claims that certain Lancome brand and L’Oreal Paris brand products affect genes unless the claims are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.”
History of deception
L’Oreal, which launched Genifique in 2009, followed by Youth Code in 2010, said that a number of its advertising claims had already been discontinued for some time before the FTC ruling. In addition, the company said that no fines were ordered by regulators and that it did not admit to any dishonest or improper advertising tactics.
This is not the first case involving L’Oreal. The cosmetics giant was forced to retreat from over-inflated claims regarding some of its products and skin care creams in 2007 when it withdrew advertising in Australia touting the “wrinkle removal” benefits and capabilities of some items.
The same year in the United Kingdom, the company was in trouble after making claims that its Telescopic mascara makes eyelashes “60 percent longer” in ads featuring Penelope Cruz; it was later revealed that she was wearing false eyelashes during filming of the ads.
The FTC describes itself as “the nation’s consumer protection agency,” adding that it “takes complaints about businesses that don’t make good on their promises or cheat people out of money.” The agency said it posted its decision June 30 and that it would soon be entered into the Federal Register, as required by law. Consumers who wish to comment on the ruling have until July 30 to do so (at this link: click here).