Ad description

A national press ad for "Youth Code" skin serum and day cream featured before and after photos of two women.  Text stated "Instant luminosity.  Seeing is believing".


Five complainants challenged whether the ad was misleading because they believed the photos were not representative of the results the product could achieve.


L'Oréal Paris provided affidavits from the make-up artist and photographer to the effect that no post-production of any nature was carried out on the "after" photos and that the lighting levels were not adjusted from the "before" to the "after" photos. They also provided some half-face "before" and "after" photos of consumers which they believed demonstrated the products brightening effect.  They said the photos in the ad were genuine representations of the results the products were capable of achieving.

They explained the approaches that had been used to create the products and provided the results of a consumer use test which they said demonstrated that the products left the skin looking luminous and more even.  They said both of the models featured in the ad had naturally flawless skin and that their faces had been cleansed before a small amount of concealer, mascara and lip gloss was applied.  They said the "before" photos were then taken in front of a white background.  The advertised products were then applied to the models faces and the "after" photos were taken. They confirmed that three lights were used by the photographer in the same way for the "before" and "after" photos.


Not upheld

The ASA considered that, upon seeing the "before" and "after" photos and reading the claim "Instant luminosity", consumers would expect the products to brighten the appearance of their skin immediately following the first application.  We noted that the photos used in the ad had been taken on the same day and that the consumer "before" and "after" photos showed the effect of applying the products to only one half of the face.  We therefore acknowledged that the effect of the product could be achieved immediately following one application.  

We were aware that all of the complainants believed the "after" photos had been achieved using different photographic lighting or digital post-production techniques, and we recognised that areas where the products had not been applied, such as the models' lips, did appear lighter in the "after" photos.  However, we also noted that blemishes visible in the "before" photos remained visible in the "after" photos.

Having seen signed affidavits from the make-up artist and photographer, we were satisfied that the styling and photographic pre-production techniques used for the "after" photos did not differ from those used for the "before" photos, that no other products had been used to brighten the appearance of the models' skin in the "after" photos and that post-production techniques had not been used to achieve that effect. Furthermore, we noted that the effect of the product in the consumer "before" and "after" photos was consistent with the effect in the photos used in the ad, bearing in mind that they had not been taken by a professional photographer.  Because we had seen evidence that demonstrated that the photos did not exaggerate the results the products could achieve, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  (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),  3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product.  (Exaggeration) and  3.47 3.47 Claims that are likely to be interpreted as factual and appear in a testimonial must not mislead or be likely to mislead the consumer.  (Testimonials), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.11     3.47     3.7    

More on