L’Oreal rapped for airbrushed Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts ads

MPs are increasing pressure on the advertising watchdog to ban campaigns featuring airbrushed images if they are found to be ’socially irresponsible’, after two L’Oreal ads were withdrawn for using ’misleading’ images of model Christy Turlington and actress Julia Roberts.


The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled the ads for the L’Oreal owned Maybelline and Lancome make-up brands should not run in future after receiving complaints from Jo Swinson MP.

Swinson was acting on behalf of the anti-airbrushing ’Campaign for Body Confidence’, which she co-founded last year with fellow Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, who has since become equalities minister.

The ASA agreed with Swinson that both ads misled consumers on the effects of the foundation make-up products they were promoting because the images of Turlington, for Maybelline, and Roberts, for Lancome, had been ’digitally manipulated’.

“This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching,” says Swinson.

“Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don’t need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality,” she adds.

In its defence, L’Oreal admitted that the Maybelline ad did use “post production techniques” but the image “accurately illustrated the results the product could achieve”.

The campaign, which has broad support from experts and organsiations including feminist academic and writer Dr Susie Orbach and online community Mumsnet, has given a dossier of evidence to the ASA which it claims prove links between airbrushed ideal images of men and women and mental health disorders such as depression and anorexia, particularly among young people.

However, a spokesman for advertising rules CAP and BCAP says the evidence of a causal link has not yet been proven.

The ASA issued guidance to brands on the use of airbrushing in April. L’Oreal has had previous ads banned for airbrushing including a 2007 campaign starring Penelope Cruz.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here