Dan Thompson: Beauty Busted


False Advertising: Lancome Settles with the FTC

Beauty Busted!

In April 2009, I wrote a review for the Lancome product, Genifique.

This product (now a complete range of products) is the very example of the type of marketing and over-hype the cosmetics industry often employs to help consumers part with money.  

Of course, the marketing works—the sales numbers prove itand I have spent many years writing about how these marketing claims are so unrealistic, yet consumers often buy products based on these over-inflated claims.

Here are the highlights of my original review:

"Genifique ($94 for 30mL*) claims to be able to 'boost genes’ activity and stimulate the production of proteins of youth.”

*price update this product now retails for $96 for 30mL

There are some problems with this claim:

1. There is no such thing as a youth protein. Proteins, which are built from amino acids, are the same throughout a person’s life. There is no specific protein responsible for youth.

2. No over-the-counter product can have an effect on genes. As a mater of fact, scientists the world over are researching gene therapy for medical applications and no one yet has been able to manipulate genes in the way Lancome is claiming they can.

3. This product is supposed to make all the other skin care items you use work better. My question to Lancome is: why don’t they just include the magic ingredient in every cream they make?

As for the magic ingredient? Lancome says Genifique has been in development for 10 years. It seems a long time for such a basic moisturizing productmostly drying alcohol and silicone, some hyaluronic acid, and a lot of filler. The magic ingredient is bacteria called bifida, which has no supporting research to have any effect on the appearance of the skin."

And now the Federal Trade Commission in the US has substantiated that these marketing claims are without merit.


As of July 1 this year, the FTC has ruled L'Oreal (the parent company of Lancome):

1.  cannot support the published marketing claims

2.  used deceptive advertising methods

3.  prohibits the claim of "boosting the activity of genes"

4. prohibits the claim "can affect genes"

5. prohibits misrepresenting any of the actual studies done on these products

In essence, the FTC has now required Lancome to relabel all Genifique products to reflect the ruling, and to cease advertising these products without providing substantial studies to prove the claims (of which L'Oreal has not done).

The Wonderbar claims to unleash the magic on your skin, but is this miracle cleanser really worth the money?

Did you know that depending on where you shop you can find the same products, under different brand names, for less money?