A TV ad and a website ad were investigated. The issues relating to the website ad were resolved informally.
A TV ad for Max Factor, seen in September 2017, featured a bottle of foundation labelled “HEALTHY SKIN HARMONY MIRACLE FOUNDATION” and a model applying and wearing the product, and touching the skin around her eyes, temples and cheeks. A voice-over stated, “Who says foundation can’t be good for your skin. Healthy Skin Foundation is better for your skin than no foundation.” On-screen text appeared alongside close up shots of the model’s face, stating “HYDRATION”, “SPF 20”, “SHINE CONTROL” and “ADDED VITAMINS”.
Seven complainants challenged whether the claim “Healthy Skin Foundation is better for your skin than no foundation” was misleading and could be substantiated.
Coty t/a Max Factor said the claim that their Healthy Skin Harmony Foundation was “better for your skin than no foundation” in the ad was clearly connected to the benefits which were shown in the on-screen text: SPF 20; hydration; shine control; and added vitamins. They said their research demonstrated that the product made the skin look healthier, and that the basis of the claim was that if no foundation was worn it would not be possible to experience all of those benefits.
Max Factor said the ad did not suggest that there was a health benefit to wearing the foundation in comparison to not wearing it, beyond benefits such as hydration and sun protection, which were listed in clear on-screen text rather than as small disclaimers at the bottom of the screen. They said the claim was therefore clearly rooted in the context of those benefits and the ad did not emphasise health other than the look of the skin.
Max Factor provided documentary evidence to support the claims regarding the SPF, hydration, vitamin and shine control elements of the product. In support of the claim “SPF 20”, they provided an independent clinical SPF test report which concluded that the average SPF of the product was above 20. Max Factor stated that acute and chronic overexposure to UV radiation could cause immediate and chronic harm to the skin and therefore applying topical SPF was a protective measure. In support of the claim “hydration”, they provided an internal evaluation of hydration of skin treated with the product, versus untreated skin. The results indicated that the group tested with the product had higher levels of hydration compared to the control group after 24 hours.
With regard to vitamin content, Max Factor stated the product contained vitamins B5, B3 and E. In support of the claim “Shine control”, Max Factor stated that oil absorbers made up 2.75% of the product’s formulation. They provided an excerpt of their consumer testing of the product to support the claim.
Max Factor stated that part of the basis of their claim was that the foundation, contrary to common belief, was not detrimental to the skin and did not block pores or aggravate acne. They provided evidence to support that – an independent study from 1995 which evaluated the effect of participants applying a liquid foundation product for 50 days. Some of the participants had mild to moderate acne, and the study concluded that the foundation did not cause or aggravate existing acne or clog pores.
Clearcast said they endorsed the view of a dermatological panel expert they had consulted. With regard to the claim “Who says foundation can’t be good for your skin?” the expert stated there was scientifically accepted information that in general moisturisation and sun protection were good for the skin, and evidence had been provided by Max Factor to demonstrate that the advertised product offered those benefits. They said there was a popular view that foundations may clog the skin pores and cause blemishes, however that was unproven. The expert said the independent test substantiated the SPF claim, and they were satisfied that the product’s ingredient list demonstrated its capacity for hydration as it contained glycerine, and additional ingredients which supported the added vitamins claim. The expert also said other positive benefits of the product were reduced shine and a radiant look, and that it made the user look and feel good, as supported by the user trial.
The ASA considered that consumers would be likely to understand the claim “Healthy Skin Foundation is better for your skin than no foundation” in the context of the ad to mean that there were features of the product that were beneficial to the skin.
We considered that the basis of the claim was made clear in the ad. The ad connected the voice-over statement, “… better for your skin than no foundation …”, with the on-screen text statements of “HYDRATION”, “SPF 20”, “SHINE CONTROL” and “ADDED VITAMINS”, which followed directly after that claim. We therefore considered that consumers would understand that those claims were related to the general claim that the product had featured which were beneficial to the skin.
We reviewed the evidence provided by Max Factor. We considered it supported the claims that the product provided SPF 20 protection and hydration for the skin. We did not consider the evidence provided in relation to shine control and the 1995 study were relevant to support the claim “… better for your skin ...”, in particular because the study evaluated whether foundation caused or aggravated existing acne rather than its benefits for the skin, and was not conducted using the advertised Healthy Skin Harmony Foundation.
We understood that SPF protection and moisturisation were generally regarded as beneficial for the skin. We therefore concluded that the claim “Healthy Skin Foundation is better for your skin than no foundation”, in conjunction with the claims “HYDRATION” and “SPF 20”, was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules
The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:
a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;
b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;
c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;
d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;
e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;
f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];
g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"
Section 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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. 2). (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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 3.10 3.10 Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.