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L'Oréal USA Settles FTC Charges

According to the complaint, the firm made false and unsubstantiated claims about its Génifique and Youth Code products in national advertising campaigns.

SETTLING UP: L’Oréal USA Inc. has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges of deceptive advertising about its Lancôme Génifique and L’Oréal Paris Youth Code skin-care products.

According to the FTC’s complaint, L’Oréal made false and unsubstantiated claims that its Génifique and Youth Code products provided antiaging benefits by targeting users’ genes.

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

In national advertising campaigns that encompassed print, radio, TV, Internet and social media outlets, L’Oréal claimed that 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.

Similarly, for its Youth Code products, L’Oréal touted in English and Spanish advertisements the “new era of skin care: gene science,” and that consumers could “crack the code to younger acting skin.”

Charging as much as $132 per container, L’Oréal has sold Génifique nationwide since February 2009 at Lancôme counters in department stores and at beauty specialty stores. The company has sold Youth Code, which costs up to $25 per container at major retail stores across the U.S., since November 2010.

Under the proposed administrative settlement, L’Oréal is prohibited from claiming that any Lancôme brand or L’Oréal Paris brand facial skin-care 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. The settlement also prohibits claims that certain products from the Lancôme and L’Oréal Paris brands affect genes unless the claims are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. L’Oréal is also prohibited from making claims about these products that misrepresent the results of any test or study.

"L'Oréal USA's recent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission dealt with a limited number of advertising claims the company made for two of its many skincare product lines: Youth Code from the L'Oréal Paris brand and Génifique from the Lancôme brand," said L'Oréal USA chief communications officer Kristina Schake. "The claims at issue in this agreement have not been used for some time now, as the company constantly refreshes its advertising."