Beauty Bitch: False Claims in Ads

BATD ON Aug 28, 2009 AT 4:02 pm

The banned Nivea DNAge Advert

The banned Nivea DNAge Advert

So, the advert for Nivea DNAge Cell Renewal Day Cream has been banned by The Advertising Standards Authority for suggesting that any firming action may be permanent. Good. It’s about time that some of the ridiculous claims made by beauty brands are called into question. But Nivea are by no means the first to be called to account for their boasts about what a beauty product can actually do for the skin. 

ROC, Olay and Estee Lauder have all had a knuckle-rapping by the ASA for misleading claims, and given that a face cream that truly can knock years off your face is the holy grail of skincare, it’s about time we actually started to properly question exactly what these pricy purchases can really do, instead of throwing money at the problem and hoping for a miracle. 

The ASA website, by the way, is a fascinating read…very often complaints about beauty adverts are actually levelled by competitor companies, and not Mrs Wrinkled from Tunbridge Wells. On the one hand, competitors are probably best placed to know if a claim is spurious, yet on the other, their complaints still manage to sound like sour grapes. Even if only one person complains about an advertisement, the ASA diligently sets forth to discover whether the complaint is valid. What’s surprising, however, is how little we question our beauty brands. The slew of ‘slimming’ creams released this year should be first on the agenda: I’ve tried a couple, knowing they’d do nothing, and sure enough, they didn’t. Two weeks of applying some runny substance to your overhang is never going to be any substitute for diet and exercise.

Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat with a PR who is positively breathless about the amazing capabilities of the small, but disproportionately priced, lotion placed in front of me. More often than not, these very beautiful and very young girls haven’t reached a time in life where even the smallest crease or wrinkle has yet to trouble their complexions. So, it’s galling to be lectured on the benefits of anti-ageing by someone for who has very little concept of the ageing process, never mind an inkling of the meaning of Langerhans cells. No wonder they can deliver a glorifying monologue on the marvels of science-led skin care without a trace of irony, because they have yet to discover that very few have any discernable impact. I sometimes wonder if we fast-forward twenty years, if any of them will have a flashback and feel a tad guilty.

Consumers, too, have to take their share of responsibility. It’s the old adage again – if sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Why do we believe that we’ll look even vaguely like Penelope Cruz simply from buying a mascara? Or that we’ll suddenly find the fountain of youth in a tube? There’s no shame in looking after your skin, making what are commonly now known as ‘investment’ skincare purchases (i.e. very expensive) or enjoying the luxury of a pampering facial. But, don’t take it on face value that your beauty buys will bring the revelatory difference that the ads suggest it ‘might’.

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