L’Oréal’s True Beauty Secret

July 28th, 2014

The day L’Oréal reached a tentative settlement agreement with the FTC over allegations that it falsely advertised two of its skincare product lines, Youth Code and Génifique, as lotions that could manipulate genes in the skin to reduce signs of aging, the company had the audacity to issue a press release that stated in part:

The safety, quality and effectiveness of the company’s products was never in question. Going forward, L’Oréal USA will continue to serve its customers through industry-leading research, scientific innovation and responsible advertising as it has for the last 60 years.

I guess that I should not be surprised that after years of lying to consumers about the quality and effectiveness of its Génifique and Youth Code product lines, L’Oréal would have no qualms about lying to all of America in a press release.

First, the whole reason that the FTC went after L’Oréal was based on its false and unsubstantiated claims that Génifique and Youth Code products could manipulate genes in the skin to provide anti-aging benefits. In fact, the FTC was not the first goverment agency to scrutinize these claims. In 2012, the FDA issued a warning letter to L’Oréal over gene related claims stating “Your products are not generally recognized among qualified experts as safe and effective for the above referenced uses.” Which is to say that the “safety, quality and effectiveness” of these product lines was absolutely in question and found to be lacking.

Second, as for the claim that L’Oréal will continue on its path of “responsible advertising,” that assertion is belied by numerous false advertising lawsuits (at least 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) and regulatory actions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

To top it all off, as the settlement agreement between the FTC and L’Oréal currently stands, L’Oréal will not have to shell out a penny to compensate the consumers it lied to. This despite the fact that it has sold over nine million bottles and made well over $1 billion in net sales worldwide just selling the Génifique product line. Believing that such a settlement is not in consumers’ best interest (to say the least), TINA.org has filed an objection to the proposed settlement urging the Commission, among other things, to require L’Oréal to pay a monetary penalty for its deceptive advertising campaigns.

My suggestion for L’Oréal – spend some of your R&D dollars finding a truth serum for your marketing department to swallow and stop lying to consumers.

For more about L’Oréal , click here. To let the FTC know what you think about this settlement, click here.

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About the Author

Bonnie Patten

Bonnie, executive director of TINA.org, is an attorney and mother of three. Her commitment to educating the public about deceptive marketing stems from her belief that education is the only viable way to effectively eradicate the market for false ads.



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