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Truth in Advertising: Will Beauty Product Disclaimers Affect Purchasing Decisions?

By (view all posts by jmediodia)
at 9:55AM Wednesday May 18, 2011
under Loose Change

Retouched and digitally enhanced beauty ads are everywhere. I was surprised to see a mascara commercial for Cover Girl LashBlash Fusion that was sent to me last week with a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen that read, "Lash inserts were applied to this model's lashes to add lash count before applying LashBlast Fusion." It was the first time I had seen a mascara ad come clean about using false eyelashes on models.
The Sun came out with a study reporting that 28 percent of cosmetics ads include disclaimers noting (in very fine print) that the images were digitally enhanced. Forty-four percent of ads appear to be retouched, but just don't admit it. And only about 28 percent of ads weren't altered.

The Sun states that mascara ads are the worst: "58 percent admitted the model's eyelashes were airbrushed to look longer. And 42 percent showed artificial lashes."

Commercials for shampoos are no different with approximately 23 percent of hair care ads featuring models wearing hair extensions.

Models wearing fake eyelashes have become a big deal, especially in the UK and France, and have released new advertising guidelines for cosmetic advertisements. Cosmetic companies like L'Oreal and Rimmel have been criticized back in 2007 for making the following misleading advertisements:

Rimmel's Magnif'eyes Mascara: A Rimmel mascara ad that shows Kate Moss with incredibly long eye lashes was banned after complaints that the supermodel's lashes were false. Two viewers complained that the lashes did not look genuine and the effects of the mascara were exaggerated. The magazine and TV ads for Magnif'eyes Mascara claimed to give "70 percent more lift," but the ASA concluded that after investigation that the 70 percent claim can be misleading. Rimmel was told not to repeat the ad and that a disclaimer must be included where post production techniques have been used.

L'Oreal Paris Telescopic Mascara: L'Oreal Paris was publicly targeted after coming out with an ad for their Telescopic Mascara with model/actress Penelope Cruz wearing fake eye lashes. The ASA did not support the claim that the mascara gives wearers "60 percent longer lashes" which could lead consumers to think that it would actually make your eye lashes 60 percent longer but will only make them appear 60 percent longer. Are consumers really that gullible? Even if so, the ASA demanded for L'Oreal to make it clear when false lashes are used.

Like the Cover Girl LashBlast commercial, Eva Longoria's ad for L'Oreal Paris mascara also states a disclaimer that "eyes are styled with lash inserts." I wonder if shampoo and other hair care companies will have come clean about their models using hair extensions too.

It's no surprise that cosmetic companies are enhancing ads to sell products. An educated consumer should recognize that it's all a part of advertising--and it just isn't happening in the world of beauty ads. Since pretty much all mascara ads use lash inserts or computer trickery, I think I would actually be tempted to go out and buy a product if it was advertised more honestly.

Would you buy a beauty product even if it had a disclaimer that the results wouldn't look or be the same? Do you think it would be better for cosmetic companies to be more honest in their advertising?