Suing Lancôme Because Makeup Lacks Magic Powers Takes Serious Chutzpah

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 3.31.53 PMAll one observant Jewish mom wanted was to look pretty for the day of her son’s bar mitzvah, during the sabbath when she isn’t allowed to apply or touch up her makeup between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. She bought a bottle of Lancôme makeup online that boasted 24-hour coverage…but also expected the promises the product’s ad made to be literally true. We posted this story when it broke earlier this week, but got hold of some new information that makes the whole situation even more stupid.

Only makeup that’s totally cool to apply on the sabbath does exist. “I can’t believe she even has the chutzpah” to file this suit, the owner of one company that sells such cosmetics told a reporter.

Makeup advertising has always been ridiculous, but what claims should we realize can’t be literally true? Okay, Christian Dior’s mascara won’t turn me into Natalie Portman, but if they advertise that it’s waterproof, can I believe that? What if the products claim to have such a strong effect on the skin that they ought to legally be considered a drug?

Here’s the actual description of the product on Lancôme’s website:

24-hour wear for divine, lasting perfection
Following 8 years of research, Lancôme unveils its first 24-hour wear foundation for lasting perfection.

With its new EternalSoft technology, Teint Idole Ultra 24H defeats all challenges. Complexion stays perfectly flawless and unified. Never cakey.

24-hour divine comfort
In perfect affinity with the skin, Teint Idole Ultra 24H is irresistibly comfortable. Its new, blendable and fresh texture leaves the complexion perfectly smooth, velvety matte with no powdery effect.

Result
The full coverage you need – flaws, pores, redness and all imperfections visibly disappear. The velvety finish you love for 24-hour lasting perfection and comfort. Full coverage. Velvety matte finish with no powdery effect.

From reading the complaint, we see the problem here: the customer expected all of this to be literally true. She performed a test, applying it on a weekday evening so she wasn’t stuck with gross makeup for 24 hours. Things did not go well.

She applied the Product at approximately 5:00 p.m. on a Thursday. Plaintiff felt that the Product make [sic] her skin look very cakey. By Friday morning, Plaintiff’s skin was shiny, particularly around her nose. Moreover, the Product that had been applied had faded significantly, making Plaintiff’s skin look uneven. It looked like very little of the Product was remaining on Plaintiff’s face, which was confirmed when she removed the remainder of the Product at 3:00 p.m. with a white cotton ball, where very little of the Product was found on the pad. Based on her experience, Plaintiff did not receive the benefit of longwearing efficacy as claimed by Lancôme in its advertising and on the Product packaging.

At this point, most people would say, “oh, this makeup looked terrible on me. I will call the company to complain and see if they will take it back.” This plaintiff is not most people.

By committing the acts alleged in this Complaint, Lancoôme has misled Plaintiff and the Classes into purchasing the Product, in part or in whole, due to an erroneous belief that the Product will maintain affinity with the skin for 24 hours without the need for touch up. This is a deceptive business practice that violates [New York business law.]

Most authorities agree that powder makeup is okay to apply on the sabbath, since the rule most foundations break is that they start as a liquid and dry into a powder when applied to the skin. Which is why the manufacturer of one such brand thinks that this suit is ridiculous. “I hope a judge will look at [the suit] and throw it in the garbage,” the owner of Shain-Dee Cosmetics told the Jewish Daily Forward. Well, stupider class-action plaintiffs have prevailed.

If you want, you can read it for yourself – download first part the second part of her complaint as PDFs.

Shabbat War Rages — Over Makeup [Jewish Daily Forward] (Thanks, Leslie!)