The website t3haircare.co.uk, which advertised hair styling products, featured product listings for two hairdryers. The first stated "Featherweight 2Dryer ... 73% Reduction in frizz", "86% Increase in Body", "19% Increase in Shine", "33% Increase in Comb-ability" and "46% Increase in Style Retention". The second stated "Featherweight Luxe 2i Dryer ... 79% Reduction in Frizz", "93% Increase in Body", "21% Increase in Shine", "36% Increase in Comb-ability" and "52% Increase in Style Retention".
JCS (Europe) Ltd challenged whether the claims made were misleading and could be substantiated.
Glorious Brands Ltd said the claims were the results of clinical trials performed in the USA by the manufacturer, T3 Micro. They removed all references to the percentage claims, which they said had come from an earlier study using a previous version of the products. To substantiate the claims "Reduction in Frizz", "Increase in Body", "Increase in Shine", "Increase in Comb-ability" and "Increase in Style Retention", they submitted evidence that was conducted by an outside laboratory, Sunwise Turn Consulting, LLC, which looked at the results of blow drying using the Featherweight 2 Dryer when compared to air drying. They said the only difference in the design between the Featherweight 2 Dryer and the Featherweight Luxe 2i Dryer was the addition of a small "ionizer" to the 2i, which increased its performance and was therefore appropriate to cite tests conducted on the Featherweight 2 to substantiate the claims about both hairdryers.
The ASA took advice from an expert on hair and dermatology on the evidence submitted in support of the claims.
The expert noted that the report did not use the identical product as advertised and identified a number of flaws in the methodology of the study, which he said was unclear and poorly described. He said he was not aware of any reasons why most of the effects listed in the ad would automatically be expected from using a hair dryer without other mechanical or chemical interventions.
The expert commented that the sample size of the study was quite small and the protocol requiring hair tresses to be dipped in distilled water was not reflective of the way consumers washed their hair. He said shampoo-use and massage may affect any potential outcomes.
The expert noted the advertiser's comments with regard to the similarities between the Featherweight 2 and the Featherweight Luxe 2i dryer and was concerned that the advertiser had not presented any evidence that the ioniser produced additional or enhanced effects.
The expert said the study did not make clear the ethnicity of the hair samples, nor whether the hair was virgin or chemically treated hair and noted that it was not sufficient to test on only one hair type. Glorious Brands later provided an addendum to the study that stated European virgin hair had been used for the tests of "style retention, body, comb-ability, and shine" and curly hair was used for frizz testing. The expert noted that there was no proof the two sets of hair samples had identical moisture content when they were tested or that they were dried in the same way, and therefore it could not be determined whether or not this was a fair test. The expert concluded that the study was not of sufficient quality to prove the claims. He added that direct evidence of differences in cuticle flattening in hair of the same moisture content would be more supportive of the claims, but the advertiser had not provided direct evidence of this.
On the basis of the expert's advice, we considered we had not seen sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims and we concluded they were therefore misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading Advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Glorious Brands Ltd to remove the claims "Reduction in frizz", "Increase in Body", "Increase in Shine", "Increase in Comb-ability" and "Increase in Style Retention" from their advertising.