Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

The ASA accepts that beauty treatment devices that apply an electrical current to muscles, normally facial, in order to reduce or remove the signs of ageing can temporarily tighten and tone the skin and that the consequent benefits, such as a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, can be maintained with repeated use. It has not, however, seen evidence that these devices can do more than this. We recommend that marketers do not make claims which go further than “temporarily tones and tightens the skin”.

CACI (Computer Aided Cosmetology Instrument) is a popular treatment offered for the face and neck. It combines tiny electrical currents and glycolic acid and marketers claim it can stimulate muscle tone and enhance skin tissue. CAP accepts that CACI can only temporarily tone and tighten the skin. But the ASA has not seen convincing evidence that electrical-current devices can: eliminate, or reduce in the long term, the superficial signs of ageing; rejuvenate, restore, restructure or rebuild the skin, face or body or bring about as marked a change as is possible from undergoing cosmetic surgery (The Hogarth Group, 7 December 2005).

Any marketer that does believe their product can reduce lines and wrinkles through the use of an electrical device must ensure that their evidence consists of clinical trials, and is suitably robust to substantiate the claims they wish to make. In 2016, the ASA investigated whether a device could use “nano current technology” and “microcurrents” to “fuel cellular metabolism, function and renewal”. The ASA found that the clinical trials the advertiser submitted as evidence were not independently conducted, were ambiguous, had used irrelevant test sites and the results obtained were not statistically significant (Nouveau Beauty Group, 9 March 2016). See Guidance on Substantiation for Health, Beauty and Slimming Claims for more information on what level of evidence is required.  

Claims such as “non-surgical face-lift” and “facelift without surgery”” or claims similar to this are unacceptable because they imply the product is equivalent to surgery, and has immediate and permanent results. Similarly, visuals of lasers, scalpels, syringes and other medical equipment associated with cosmetic surgery might be unacceptable. Marketers might be able to describe the product as ‘non-surgical’ but should do so in a way that does not convey a misleading impression about the effects of the product. See "Non-surgical" and "surgical" type claims.

Claims that relate to the product’s effects, whether they are direct, implied, visual or in the form of testimonials or endorsements, must be representative and supportable (Ideal Shopping Direct plc 6 February 2008), and should be used only with the permission of those providing them. See Testimonials and endorsements for further information.

As an aside, all claims that muscle stimulators can facilitate weight loss or change fat into muscle are likely to be unacceptable. See Weight control: Exercise devices.

See also Beauty: Botox, Beauty: Treatments Using Fillers, Before and After PhotosBeauty and Cosmetics: General and Beauty: Treatments Using Lasers

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