New guidelines to tackle misleading cosmetics ads

Advertising rule chiefs have set out guidelines aimed at reducing the number of consumer complaints about misleading “airbrushed” cosmetic ads.


The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) have published information on the kind of techniques that could lead to misleading customers, such as using before-and-after images where only the after-image had used pre-production techniques.

The new note, called ’The use of production techniques in cosmetics advertising’, was created following a request from the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) for more clarification on the use of pre and post production techniques in cosmetics ads.

In the past cosmetics companies have come under fire for misleading consumers. L’Oreal was rapped in 2007 for misleading advertising over its “Telescopic Mascara” TV ads starring actress Penelope Cruz. Cruz was found to be wearing individual false eyelashes.

In the past some retailers and brands have taken a stand against airbrushing. Department store chain Debenhams banned airbrushing in its swimwear ad campaign last June. It also launched an ad campaign in September featuring older women, as part of an ongoing push to make its advertising reflect the diversity of its shoppers.

Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson MP and equalities minister Lynne Featherstone have set up the Campaign for Body Confidence and called for advertisers to be more transparent in their use of digital retouching.

Swinson said: “When it comes to digital manipulation of images of people, advertisers need to make sure they are being honest about the effects of their product, and they are keeping in mind the harmful effects that idealised images can have on people’s self-esteem and wellbeing.”

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