Cosmetic company L’Oreal has agreed to stop making claims its Lancome Genifique and L’Oreal Paris Youth Code products make skin appear younger by boosting “the activity of genes”.
An investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission found L’Oreal’s anti-ageing gene claims for the products were unsubstantiated and misleading. As a result of the investigation, L’Oreal US has entered into a settlement with the FTC, agreeing not to make the claims unless they’re supported by reliable scientific evidence.
In 2009, gene-boosting claims made in a TV ad for L’Oreal’s “Lancome Genifique Youth Activator” were the subject of a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) here. But the complaint to the voluntary industry body was unsuccessful. In its decision, the ASA Complaints Board said it wasn’t “an arbiter of scientific fact” and considered the product claims were unlikely to mislead or deceive.
If the complaint had been upheld in 2009, L’Oreal would have been required to change the gene-boosting claims it was making for the product.
Recent changes to the Fair Trading Act have placed a greater onus on companies to ensure claims for their goods and services are substantiated. The Commerce Commission can prosecute companies that make unsubstantiated claims. Companies can be fined up to $600,000 for breaching the Act.