The untold story of Cosmetic Industry that you need to know.

Are those makeup advertisements lying to you? Have you ever wondered whether that “miracle” serum can reduce your wrinkles overnight? Can that much proclaimed “clinically proven conditioner” repair split ends on your hair? Beauty commercials appear too good to be true. Unfortunately, flawless skin and cascading tresses have become trademarks of beauty today. Are these ads taking away the charm of ageing gracefully? The outrageous claims of the cosmetic industry to make you look younger with a formula packaged in a bottle may sound ridiculous, but is lamentably sought with much conviction.

A research published in the “Journal of Global Fashion and Marketing” revealed that only 18% of 700 odd claims made in cosmetic commercials could be trusted as living up to their advertised features. Several categories of beauty products such as skin care, make-up, body and bath, hair, nail and fragrance were sampled for empirical examination vis-à-vis the advertisement claims such as “stand-alone performance”, “dermatologist recommended”, “award-winning product”, etc. Contrary to their assertions, researchers after assessing 289 cosmetic ads including those featuring in fashion magazines like Vogue and Marie Claire found that almost 50% of the brands reviewed made false scientific claims and subjective deliberations. Based on varied category of claims spanning across environmental, scientific and endorsement entitlements, the authors rated products as “acceptable”, “vague”, “omission” and “outright lie.”

Let’s run through some instances of advertisements endorsed by celebrities which were selected by “Dailymail” as the top 9 misleading cosmetics commercials that got banned.


Clairol Nice ‘n’ Easy Hair Dye

The commercial for this product showed Christina Hendricks changing hair colour from red to blonde, whereas the truth was that Ms. Hendricks has naturally blonde hair that she had been dyeing red since years. The company asked her not to colour her hair for eight weeks prior to filming and recorded the moment of dyeing with the product at the end of the video. The commercial for this ad was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for exaggerating the capability of the product.

Lancome Teint Miracle

Appearing on glossy magazines, this ad debuted on print, featuring Julia Roberts. The ad claimed use of the foundation to trigger instant changes in complexion “as if lit from within”. The commercial was pulled down as the digital image overstated the effects that the product could potentially achieve as claimed.

Christian Dior Show New Look Mascara

Another print ad featuring Natalie Portman adorned the celebrity eyes with feathery fan lashes claimed as a resultant of “the miracle of a nano brush for an unrivalled lash creator effect”. It also mentioned of delivering a “spectacular volume-multiplier effect, lash by lash.” However, Dior claimed that they had retouched the image to “stylistically lengthen and curve her lashes”.

Estee Lauder Body Performance Slim Shape Anti- Cellulite Visible Contouring Serum

The commercial that projected a model flaunting perfectly shaped smooth thighs with the use of a thigh-slimming serum was banned when ASA examined the product and found that they performed on back of hands alone and not on thighs or bottom.

Olay Definity Eye Illuminator 

This ad claimed that younger looking eyes could never go out of fashion and that the product can reduce wrinkles and dark circles. When ASA raised questions on this ad as retouched and glamorised to send off a misleading impression, Olay reproduced the commercial without retouching around the eyes.

Rimmel 1-2-3 Looks Mascara 

Georgia May Jagger appeared in print as well as television advert for this product that claimed to create different looks with the application of single mascara. ASA intervened on the use of differently sized lash inserts being used as misleading.

Tri-Aktiline Instant Deep Wrinkle Filler

This advert was banned on the premise of the company’s false statistical claims. It said that the product which could improve fine lines and wrinkles proved to work on seven out of ten women who used it. However, ASA found that the company had tested their product on 25 women only with a judgement based on photos shot before and after the product usage.

L’Oreal Revitalift Repair 10 

The ad features Rachel Weisz and depicts the product as a “revitalift” that reduces wrinkles to smoothen the skin and complexion. ASA snubbed the use of flattering lights for photographing in monochrome that mislead consumers with post-production enhancement techniques to make skin look super smooth.

Clinique Even Better Eyes 

This video advert shows a model bathed in light instantly after applying an eye cream, claiming that the product can “take eyes out of the shadows…” ASA called if off concluding that the final sequence of the commercial had defocussed from the model’s eyes to illuminate the under-eye area, echoing misleading impressions about the product’s performance to consumers.

A string of hypocrisy runs through this beauty industry. Will celebrities endorsing these products themselves use such formulas on a regular basis?  While these are only a handful of examples, advertisers have become addicted to using rhetoric across a range of beauty products. Think of the products that claim to clean anything such as the “Spanx – Power Panties” or cosmetics that talk of skin whitening of women’s private parts. Most marketers successfully campaign such products, sensationalizing them while tactfully handling sexism. The Dove “Real Beauty” campaign, running for over a decade is one of the most viral videos.

The greater concern is whether and how these cosmetic adverts and media’s portrayal impact the younger generation in their perception of self and building self-esteem? It’s disheartening to see that teenagers are targeted and falling prey to these marketing gimmicks. At a vulnerable age where they just begin to form self-image, fairness products and heavy make-up that babble “ideal beauty”, can be detrimental resulting in lowered self-esteem, forming distorted body images and causing additional health woes.

Recent public outcry around “body shaming” and “beauty idealizing” as well as celebrities’ tirade against endorsement of skin whitening products has sparked off intense discourse across the country.  The ‘Quantico’ actress, Priyanka Chopra, who had endorsed a fairness brand, admitted that watching herself in the ad reminded her of how she disregarded such commercials in her younger days and so finally knocked it off. Abhay Deol, Kangana Ranaut and a legion of Bollywood stars have protested against such endorsements. Some who featured in such advertisements even shared their opinion on reversing such endorsements stating that strict rules be implemented to restrict and ban sale of such products.

With the cosmetic industry grossing billion dollars annually, will they disclose product’s harmful impact or stop manufacturing them altogether? These chemically laden products infused with probable cancer causing ingredients will neither make you look younger nor the SPF quotient in your lotion protect you completely from the UV rays. FDA that monitors the industry, only guarantees that the products are safe, while it’s for you to know whether the bottled ingredients will solve your skincare challenges. Decide whether you want to burn a hole in your pockets to pay a price for a “damaging miracle” or simple wear a priceless smile to revel your beauty.

Article by Rochita.

The untold story of Cosmetic Industry that you need to know.


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