New guidance, published today, for the cosmetics sector will help the industry to advertise their products without misleading consumers.

A new Help Note on 'The use of production techniques in cosmetics advertising'  is published by the bodies that write the Advertising Codes, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP).

CAP and BCAP acted following a request from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Council for greater clarification on the use of pre and post production techniques in cosmetic ads. In recent years the ASA has received complaints from members of the public about the use of eyelash inserts, hair extensions and styling, as well as photographic retouching, on the grounds that they can misleadingly exaggerate the effect a product is capable of achieving.

Specifically, the Help Note gives examples of production techniques that, depending on their use, are likely to mislead and those that are not.

Likely to mislead:

  • ‘Before-and-after’ images where only the ‘after’ image had used pre-production techniques
  • The use of lash inserts that are longer or thicker than the model’s natural lashes or that do more than replace damaged or missing lashes
  • Re-touching, for example, removing or reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles around the eyes for an eye cream advertisement or increasing the length or thickness of eyelashes in an advertisement for mascar
  • The excessive use of hair extensions or inserts that significantly adds to hair volume in hair care advertisements

Unlikely to mislead:

  • The use of styling and make-up generally
  • The use of lash inserts for non-eye area cosmetics
  • The use of hair extensions and inserts for non-hair care cosmetics
  • Minor adjustments to correct for lighting problems and other photographic issues
  • Removal of skin blemishes provided this does not affect the impression given of the effectiveness of the product

The Help Note also makes clear that while disclaimers or qualifiers  can be used to clarify claims, if an advertisement is inherently misleading, it remains so regardless of any superimposed text.

CAP and BCAP sought expertise from the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfumery Association in putting the guidance together.

The new guidance is intended to help advertisers, agencies and media owners interpret the Advertising Codes and avoid being subject to an upheld ASA ruling. Practitioners should also take advantage of CAP Services, a range of training and advice resources to help them get their ads right.

Launching the Help Note, CAP Secretary Shahriar Coupal says: "One of our main objectives is to equip advertisers with the necessary tools to help them get their ads right; helping to produce ads that comply with the Codes in preference to taking action against those that do not. This guidance provides a clear set of principles that will be of real benefit to the cosmetics sector, helping them promote their products in a positive light without misleading the consumer."

More on

  • Keep up to date

    Sign up to our rulings, newsletters and emargoed access for Press. Subscribe now.