Sunday Times on Beauty Industry Lies

Continuing my recent penchant for linking to the Sunday Times of London, here’s an article that’s right up my alley: Secrets and lies of beauty industry laid bare by advertising watchdog.

The cosmetics market is thought to be worth more than £15 billion worldwide. In a ruthlessly competitive market, pseudoscientific claims have become common. The Estée Lauder cream, which costs £28 for a 200ml tube, was heavily criticised yesterday for suggesting that it might help to reduce the fatty tissue that dimples women’s thighs. The serum was advertised with the promise “True Performance. Visible results. Your body will prove it.”

The text of the advertisement read: “This multi-action serum with our exclusive thermogenic complex and potent Asian herbals melts away the fatty look of cellulite. Refirms and tightens to help keep that dimpled look from coming back.”

It claimed that 83 per cent of women who used the product had seen a reduction in the appearance of their cellulite, though a footnote added: “Based on a 46-person test over a four-week period.” Estée Lauder argued that it was a cosmetic treatment that reduced the appearance of cellulite and that women would realise it would not treat cellulite itself. But the ASA found that consumers were likely to understand “anti-cellulite” and “reduction in the appearance of cellulite” to mean the serum directly worked on cellulite and that it was more than a moisturiser. It ruled that the advertisement was misleading because the advertisers had not proven the efficicacy of the serum on cellulite, nor that it reduced its dimpling.

Estée Lauder refused to accept the ruling and said it had provided a dossier of evidence which it believed fully demonstrated the efficacy of the serum.

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