L’Oréal Skincare Deception Charges Lead to FTC Settlement

The cosmetic giant, L’Oréal USA, Inc., has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that it deceptively advertised two of its skincare products by making false and unsubstantiated claims that the products provided anti-aging benefits by targeting genes. L’Oréal’s marketing claimed that the products were “clinically proven” to “boost genes” and that the products were part of a “new era of skincare: gene science.” According to the FTC charges, the marketing included claims that L’Oréal could not substantiate. The FTC report says the settlement requires L’Oréal to substantially alter the way it markets its products, by restricting the company’s ability to make reference to unsupported claims related to the products’ effect on genes.

The Products

The settlement arises out of the marketing of L’Oréal’s Génifique™ and Youth Code™ products, which it sells for as much as $132 and $25 per container, respectively. However, the settlement applies to any Lancôme brand or L’Oréal Paris brand facial skincare product. The settlement specifically requires that L’Oréal not claim that any of those products “targets or boosts the activity of genes to make skin look or act younger, or respond five times faster to aggressors like stress, fatigue, and aging, unless the company has competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating such claims.” The settlement also precludes any claim that the products affect genes and prohibits L’Oréal from misrepresenting the results of any test or study related to the products. The proposed settlement puts an additional five year requirement on L’Oréal to submit advertisements related to gene claims to the FTC for approval before any such claims are used.

Commission

The FTC voted four to none to accept the proposed consent agreement, with one commissioner not participating. The FTC plans to publish a description of the consent agreement in the Federal Register, which will be subject to public comment. After the comment period, the FTC will determine whether to make the proposed settlement final.