Last year, Rimmel London was criticised for its “1-2-3 Looks Mascara” television and magazine ads when the Advertising Standards Authority deemed in its adjudication that the use of lash inserts on model Georgia Jagger exaggerated the effect achievable from the use of the product alone and the disclaimer “Shot with last inserts” was insufficiently clear in providing information.

In response to similar complaints about use of eyelash inserts, hair extensions and airbrushing in cosmetic advertising the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice have published new guidance designed to educate advertisers in the cosmetics sector and prevent misleading and exaggerated claims about the effect a product is capable of achieving.

The CAP Help Note, “The Use Of Production Techniques in Cosmetics Advertising”, draws a distinction between the use of obvious exaggeration that is not likely to be taken literally, the effect actually achievable by the product, and the exaggeration which consumers interpret as begin indicative of a product’s capabilities. Consequently, forthcoming ads for mascara may use eyelash inserts to fill in natural gaps in the lash line but not to create a lengthening or volumising effect beyond what can be achieved by the mascara on natural lashes.

Post-production airbrushing will also be scruintised to avoid misleading consumers on the apparent performance of the product, and advertisers may no longer be able to remove or reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, add highlights and shine or remove ‘fly-away’ hair. The Help Note further reiterates the importance of advertisers continuing to document and retain appropriate evidence to demonstrate any research, styling and re-touching, as required under the Codes, and also clarifies that the use of qualifications and disclaimers will not excuse otherwise disallowed activities. Disclaimers and qualifying statements should only be used for adding clarity and must be legible and appropriately placed. This comes at a time when the cosmetic industry is possibly already turning a marketing corner. In the US last month, French cosmetics brand Make Up For Ever launched the world’s first unretouched make-up ad campaign and in the UK both Maybelline’s and Maxfactor’s TV ads have taken a deliberate move towards a more natural setting. As our industry becomes more and more transparent, it remains to be seen whether this new guidance will initiate a decline in highly stylised ad campaigns in favour for the natural look. Please contact a member of the ReACTS team for further information and assistance with your advertising.