L’Oréal agrees to stop making 'gene boosting' anti-aging ad claims

By Anthony GiorgianniConsumer Reports

A proposed agreement between L’Oréal USA and the Federal Trade Commission would settle charges that the cosmetics maker falsly advertised that some of its skin care products provided anti-aging benefits by targeting users’ genes.

The federal agency said L’Oréal could not substantiate its claims that its Lancôme Génifique and L’Oréal Paris Youth Code skin care products “boost genes’ activity and stimulate the production of youth proteins that would cause visibly younger skin in just 7 days.” The advertising claims were made in print, radio, television, Internet, and social media outlets in English and Spanish, the agency said.

Continue Reading Below

“It would be nice if cosmetics could alter our genes and turn back time. But L’Oréal couldn’t support these claims,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

For more information about health claims that are too good to be true, read “Snake Oil for the 21st Century.

L’Oréal has sold Génifique at Lancôme counters in department stores and beauty specialty shops nationwide since February 2009, charging up to $132. It has sold Youth Code at major retail stores nationally for $25 since November 2010.

Under the proposed administrative settlement, which is being opened for public comment, L’Oréal would be prohibited from advertising that any Lancôme or L’Oréal Paris facial skincare product targets or boosts the activity of genes to make skin look or act younger, or respond five times faster to aggressors such as stress, fatigue, and aging, unless the company has substantiating scientific evidence, the FTC said. It also would be barred from misrepresenting the results of any test or study.

The FTC’s settlement came just two weeks after the agency testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee about widespread deceptive advertising for weight-loss products.

Anthony Giorgianni

Copyright © 2005-2014 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.