July 7, 2014

L'Oréal Smoothes Out an Advertising Wrinkle in FTC Settlement

Seller Beware: Consumer Protection Insights for Industry,

It looks like the search for the fountain of youth may have to extend beyond the cosmetics counter. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled deceptive advertising charges with L'Oréal USA, Inc. over two products the company claims provide anti-aging benefits by targeting genes. Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection said that L'Oréal could not support claims that its cosmetics "could turn back time" by altering genes.

The FTC's charges stem from advertisements relating to the company's Génifique and Youth Code products. L'Oréal's advertisements claimed that its products "boost genes" or use "gene science" to make users look younger. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also warned L'Oréal that products claiming to alter genes are considered drugs and cannot be sold in the United States without FDA approval.

The consent agreement, which imposes no monetary penalty, prohibits L'Oréal from making claims about the ability of its products to make people look younger by targeting, boosting, or affecting genes without reliable scientific evidence. In addition, the settlement prohibits the company from making claims that misrepresent the results of tests or studies.

The FTC used the settlement to remind all companies that they must, at a minimum, be able to prove the level of substantiation used in their advertisements, and that advertisements cannot overstate the science or data behind them. 

© Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 2014 All Rights Reserved. This blog post is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation.


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