FTC, L'Oreal Settle Over Allegedly False Anti-Aging Claims

The Federal Trade Commission has struck a settlement with cosmetics company L’Oréal USA over allegations of false advertising made in TV, radio, Internet and other media.

The allegations involved its Lancôme Génifique and L’Oréal Paris Youth Code skin care products, for which the FTC said L’Oreal made unsubstantiated claims that they fought aging by targeting a user's genes.

“It would be nice if cosmetics could alter our genes and turn back time,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But L’Oréal couldn’t support these claims.” The FTC pointed out that L'Oreal was charging as much as $132 per container for Génifique.

Under the proposed settlement, which a court must still sign off on, L'Oreal has agreed not to make any gene-related claims for the products, including that it can make skin look or "act" younger or respond five times faster to stress without "reliable scientific evidence to back up such claims."

There was no monetary forfeiture associated with the settlement.

The vote was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Terrell McSweeny not participating.

"L'Oréal USA's recent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission dealt with a limited number of advertising claims the company made for two of its many skincare product lines: Youth Code from the L'Oréal Paris brand and Génifique from the Lancôme brand," said L'Oréal USA chief communications officer Kristina Schake of the settlement. "The claims at issue in this agreement have not been used for some time now, as the company constantly refreshes its advertising. The safety, quality and effectiveness of the company's products were never in question. Going forward, L'Oréal USA will continue to serve its customers through industry-leading research, scientific innovation and responsible advertising as it has for the last 60 years."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.