On June 30, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had reached a proposed settlement with L’Oréal USA, Inc. related to the Commission’s investigation of anti-aging claims made in advertisements for Lancôme Génifique and L’Oréal Paris Youth Code products.
In its complaint, the FTC asserted that L’Oréal falsely represented that the products in these two lines “boost the activity of or target…genes, thereby resulting in visibly younger skin.” The advertisements at issue include claims that L’Oréal’s products “boost genes’ activity,” “stimulate the production of youth proteins,” and leave the consumer with “visibly younger skin in just 7 days.” The complaint also condemns the cosmetic company for using the results of clinical studies and demonstratives in a misleading manner. The FTC notes, for example, that a bar graph next to a representation that L’Oréal’s Youth Code “targets genes to make skin act young and respond five times faster to aggressors” presented the results of a study that did not involve a Youth Code product, or even any one of the ingredients in Youth Code.
The proposed consent agreement is subject to public comment for 30 days. Following the public comment period, which closes July 30, 2014, the FTC will decide whether to make the proposed order final.
In discussing the proposed settlement on its blog, the FTC counseled advertisers wishing to make objective product performance claims – particularly claims that a product is “clinically proven” to provide a certain benefit or level of performance – to make sure the claims are narrowly-tailored to the relevant scientific proof, and do not make broad generalizations that cannot be supported by the actual study results.