Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Does an airbrushed actress constitute illegal advertising? A UK watchdog agency thinks so.

Two magazine ads for cosmetics giant L'Oreal -- one for Lancome’s Teint Miracle foundation featuring Julia Roberts and the other using model Christy Turlington for Maybelline’s Eraser foundation -- have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, reports The Guardian newspaper and others.

"Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don't need retouching to look great,” said the member of Parliament who brought the ad to regulators' attention. “This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let's get back to reality."

The ASA made its decision without the help of before and after shots. Roberts reportedly stipulated in her contract that no unairbrushed shots can be released, say news sources. Instead, the authority received red carpet shots of both Roberts and Turlington.

L’Oreal defended itself, admitting the photos were retouched. But the company pointed to Turlington’s pores and crow's feet and maintained that the image "accurately illustrated" achieveable results. Pretty Woman star Roberts' flawless, glowing skin was attributed to a combination of natural beauty and a talented photographer.

The ASA acknowledged that Julia Roberts was an actress “well known for her beauty” and “pictures supplied from laboratory testing were evidence that the product was capable of improving skin’s appearance.”  But, the agency wrote, “we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post production techniques. We therefore concluded the ad was misleading.”

In 2007, the ASA lashed out at L'Oreal for a mascara ad featuring Penelope Cruz that claimed to deliver "up to 60% longer lashes." Turns out Cruz was wearing false lashes.

As someone who has tried many makeup products, I’ve found the only “miracle” is Photoshop.

 

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