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L'Oréal Settles FTC Lawsuit

July 1, 2014

Brings closure to anti-wrinkle claims.

L'Oréal's US unit reached a proposed settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that would end an inquiry regarding advertising claims linked to two antiwrinkle products. In a statement, the FTC said the proposed pact settles allegations that L'Oréal advertising campaigns made false and unsubstantiated claims that Youth Code from the L'Oréal Paris brand and Génifique from the Lancôme brand provided antiaging benefits by targeting users' genes.

L'Oréal claimed that its Génifique products, which sell for as much as $132 a container, were clinically proven to "boost genes' activity and stimulate the production of youth proteins" that would cause "visibly younger skin in just 7 days," according to the FTC. For its Youth Code products, L'Oréal had touted "gene science" in its ads, claiming consumers could "crack the code to younger acting skin," the FTC stated. Youth Code is priced at up to $25 a container, the agency said.

Under the planned accord, the cosmetics company also is prohibited from claiming that its Lancome or L'Oréal Paris products "target or boost the activity of genes to make skin look or act younger." L'Oréal is also prohibited from making claims that the products "affect genes" unless they are supported by scientific evidence, the FTC said.

The cosmetic maker said the advertising claims related to its Youth Code and Génifique were discontinued some time ago. L'Oréal also said the proposed accord doesn't involve monetary penalties and L'Oréal didn't admit any improper advertising practices.

"The safety, quality and effectiveness of the company's products were never in question," a company spokesman said.

In September 2012, U.S. regulators warned L'Oréal that it had gone too far with claims about several pricey antiwrinkle products, and said sales could be halted if the company didn't tone them down.

At that time, the Food and Drug Administration, had also criticized the marketing claims, including the assertion that one product "boosts the activity of genes and stimulates the production of youth proteins."

The FDA looked at claims made by several products and concluded they were being marketed as drugs "intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body." The products included Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate and Renergie Microlift Eye R.A.R.E. Intense Repositioning Eye Lifter.

In other news, L'Oréal Paris has launched a new hair care line that features Filoxane, an active that is said to make hair feel twice as full and thick. The material, which is said to penetrate the hair shaft to thicken hair protein microfibrils, can be found in the new Elséve Fibralogy shampoo.

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