Surprise! L’Oréal’s “Gene Boosting” Products Don’t Really Boost Your Genes Or Make You Younger

loreal-ad-fullThe Federal Trade Commission announced this afternoon that it has reached a settlement deal with cosmetics giant L’Oréal regarding charges of deceptive advertising about its Lancôme Génifique and L’Oréal Paris Youth Code skincare products, which the company’s ad say provide anti-aging benefits by targeting users’ genes.

That essentially means those ads portraying a woman with rejuvenated genes and flawless skin after applying Génifique or Youth Code aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Crazy, right?

Those commercials are a thing of the past now that L’Oréal is prohibited from making any unsubstantiated claims that its products have gene-altering super powers.

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

According to the complaint [PDF], there was allegedly little truth to L’Oréal’s national marketing campaigns for print, radio, television, Internet and social media outlets that claimed its Génifique products were “clinically proven” to “boost genes’ activity and stimulate the production of youth proteins” that would cause “visibly younger skin in just seven days,” and would provide results to specific percentages of users.

Likewise, there was no evidence to support the claims that the Youth Code products were the “new era of skincare: gene science,” and that consumers could “crack the code to younger acting skin.”

Génifique has been for sale at Lancôme counters in department stores and beauty specialty stores nationwide since February 2009. The company charges as much as $132 per container. Youth Code has been available for up to $25 per container at major retail stores since November 2010.

Under the proposed settlement with the FTC, L’Oréal is prohibited from claiming that any Lancôme brand or L’Oréal Paris brand facial skincare product 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.

Additionally, the company is prohibited from claiming that any Lancôme brand and or L’Oréal Paris brand products affect genes unless the claims are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The company is also barred from making claims about the products that misrepresent any test or study results.

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