PSA: L’Oréal reaches a settlement with FTC : Claims that skincare targets genes is “misleading”

by Paris B on · 41 comments

in Discussions,Musings,Serum,Skincare,Treatment

loreal ftc genifique PSA:  L’Oréal reaches a settlement with FTC : Claims that skincare targets genes is misleading

A few years ago, I attended the launch of the then brand new Lancome Genifique serum. It claimed to be able to activate the gene profile and basically activate your youth from within, and make skin (and therefore you) look younger while helping skin respond more quickly to external aggressors. While I had a very interesting insight into genes and gene therapy during the launch, and a fascinating experiment, I could not help feeling oh-so-sceptical. If this were indeed true, why isn’t this gene activator used in medical research instead of for cosmetics purposes?

Then a year or two later, the trickle-down effect led to the launch of L’Oreal Youth Code Pre-Essence on the same principles. A much more affordable option, Youth Code also talked about genes and their activation and that consumers could crack the code to younger looking skin. I remember receiving an invite to the launch for which a friend attended and reported back.

Well, I hope that as well as both products may have worked for you, you didn’t buy into the gene-cracking, youth-activating claims because as it turns out, they’re now found to be “deceptive and misleading”!

What this means, folks, is that all these claims L’Oreal had made of their serums cracking the youth code, or activating gene profiles, or boosting gene activity, all these claims weren’t backed by science and they couldn’t prove it, when challenged.

So when charges were brought against L’Oreal (who owns Lancome) by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) L’Oreal has now decided to reach a settlement with the FTC.

Under the proposed administrative settlement, L’Oréal is prohibited from claiming that any Lancôme brand or L’Oréal Paris brand facial skincare product targets or boosts the activity of genes to make skin look or act younger, or respond five times faster to aggressors like stress, fatigue, and aging, unless the company has competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating such claims. The settlement also prohibits claims that certain Lancôme brand and L’Oréal Paris brand products affect genes unless the claims are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Finally, L’Oréal is prohibited from making claims about these products that misrepresent the results of any test or study

(source)

The important take away from this episode is this.

Do not believe everything you read or hear or are told by cosmetics companies. Take every claim with a grain of salt and use a product because it works for you, or you like it, not because it makes some dubious claims of penetrating deep down your skin or switching on the youth gene.

While Genifique (now known as Advanced Genifique) is a popular anti-aging serum that many people like using (my Mom actually likes it a lot but she doesn’t know about what it purports to do because I don’t tell her so she just likes it for what it is – an anti-aging serum) I have not been able to use it with any great success and so I don’t and I reject most offers to try it. Incidentally, I’ve received a couple of offers recently and I wonder if it might be due to this latest incident, that Lancome/L’Oreal is trying to re-spread the word about it’s star serum icon razz PSA:  L’Oréal reaches a settlement with FTC : Claims that skincare targets genes is misleading Or perhaps I’m just too much of a cynic icon razz PSA:  L’Oréal reaches a settlement with FTC : Claims that skincare targets genes is misleading

While L’Oreal says that “The safety, quality and effectiveness of the company’s products were never in question” and while I don’t doubt that the products work, as any skincare product will, sans all the scientific mumbo-jumbo and over-promises, I have to wonder if they could now charge less per bottle, now that the ads and promotional gimmicks are found to be that – gimmicks, instead of the astronomical prices placed on Advanced Genifique icon razz PSA:  L’Oréal reaches a settlement with FTC : Claims that skincare targets genes is misleading

Personally, I don’t use either product but I know many people do and like using them and I’m sure this info isn’t being blasted out there for your reading pleasure, so consider this a PSA and make your decisions accordingly icon smile PSA:  L’Oréal reaches a settlement with FTC : Claims that skincare targets genes is misleading

If you’d like to read more about this, you can get the official release from the FTC website and the articles at Wall Street Journal and Forbes amongst others out there.

Are you a fan of either Lancome’s Genifique serum or L’Oreal’s Youth Code Pre-essence? Did you buy into their gene/youth activating claims?

As L’Oreal is vouching for the safety of their products, and as this isn’t a case of product contamination, there really shouldn’t be anything to worry about. If you already use these products and are happy with them, I don’t see anything wrong with continuing their use. You may only be affected if you bought into the claims of gene activation, in which case, I’m afraid you’d just have to feel a little duped! icon razz PSA:  L’Oréal reaches a settlement with FTC : Claims that skincare targets genes is misleading Now, the RM64,000 question is, are you? Feeling duped, that is icon razz PSA:  L’Oréal reaches a settlement with FTC : Claims that skincare targets genes is misleading

Paris B

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[ 41 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

Angelina July 8, 2014 at 9:12 am

It never worked for me. My skin dislikes the serum. And no, I don’t buy the claim at all. In fact, I don’t buy the claims of most products. It’s just words.

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 1:51 pm

You know, from what I’ve been seeing, this “compromise” by L’Oreal seems to only be in the USA. I notice they’re still pushing the same spiel here in their local marketing. Tsk. The thing is, many people do believe these claims!

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Angelina July 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

The fact is, many local pom pom bloggers are raving about it. And that’s the main reason why I don’t read their blogs. Whatever that is claimed by any brands, most of the time it’s marketing gimmick. I see the ad everyday on my FB homepage. Lol.

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 30, 2014 at 11:36 am

“pom pom bloggers” LOL!!! I love that description :D And yes, I’ve seen it making its rounds which isn’t surprising because I too got the email to try it but turned it down ;)

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Shivani July 8, 2014 at 9:21 am

Oh goodness, I’m actually quite shocked to hear this Paris – L’Oréal has no research to back their claims on gene activation? That’s really terrible… because people who don’t really know much about anti-aging products have been buying into the hype on what the brand issues out. Very misleading to their customers :(
Shivani recently blogged…Body Shop’s Moisture White Shiso 2 in 1 Brightening Eye Cream ReviewMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Apparently not Shivani and as you have said, people DO buy into the hype and story :( I have noticed that locally we’re getting the same gene story still, but slightly toned down so perhaps this “settlement” is only effective in the USA because the FTC is after all a US thing. But it would have been so much better if they were just up front about this globally.

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Lily
Twitter:
July 8, 2014 at 9:32 am

Both serums didn’t work for me. In fact, the Genifique serum broke me out like crazy. My mom liked the Youth Code, but not enough to repurchase it. I guess for me, it only depends on whether or not the product is suitable for my skin. Whatever the brand claims is most of the time, exaggerated :-P However, unsubstantiated claims are not exaggeration. They are, crudely put, lies. That’s a huge mistake made by the brand, and a costly one too.
Thanks for the info Paris!
Lily recently blogged…Review: Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing BalmMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Yep, always pays to just take all claims with a pinch of salt. Most are oversalted in fact LOL I was glad L’Oreal got rapped on the knuckles for misleading everyone with their ads and claims but knowing how things work, this would only be effective in the USA. Here, I see the same old spiel being trotted out. More’s the pity!

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Ting July 8, 2014 at 10:09 am

Gene activation eh? Such a high-tech claim. If anything can modify your genes, it will be radioactive materials.

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 1:57 pm

haha indeed! It all sounds nice but if indeed there was such a technology, I’d prefer it be used for medical purposes than mere cosmetics :P

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Carolyn July 8, 2014 at 10:25 am

I’m glad that this happened, as hopefully cosmetic companies will be forced to try to tame their sometimes outrageous claims in the future. Thanks for sharing this news, Paris!
Carolyn recently blogged…Chanel Confident & Viva Rouge Coco Shine Review, Swatches, and ComparisonsMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm

You’re welcome Carolyn, and I’m glad this happened too! I still see the same claims being trotted out here though so I do wonder if this is only regional in that the FTC only regulates the USA after all so L’Oreal/Lancome are free to say what they will in other regions/countries, and if so, Boo!

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Tine @ Beautyholics Anonymous
Twitter:
July 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

I remember Lancome getting slapped on the wrist for one of their foundations campaign, the one with Julia Roberts on it. It’s obvious that your skin wouldn’t look like that in the ad. L’Oreal has gotten into hot soup a number of times for their mascara claims (only to have the tiny, tiny print at the bottom of the ad now saying “model is wearing lash inserts”). I’ve tried the Genefique and I thought it was all right. Nah, didn’t believe for a second on their so-called gene-activating nonsense. If any of my genes are “activated” or affected in any way, then I’ll really be screwed. :P

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Yep, Lancome/L’Oreal are notorious for their ads – photoshopping, the mascara thing… but they just bulldoze it through. I mean, clearly the mascara ad is fake as is the foundation, but when it comes to skincare, we just can’t tell can we? So I’m glad they were called out on this and while it shouldn’t affect me, it does. It makes me question the ethics of the whole brand and I’m just sort of please that I’m not using anything from them at this time. Not feeling the vibe as it were :P

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lisa July 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Genefique didn’t work for me but it seems to work for some. I prefer ANR. I don’t believe much of most claims. I believe in looking at the ingredient list and sampling. If it works in a few days as in my skin likes it, then it much works for me. They really don’t have to go to great lengths to promote their product. If it’s any good, people will come back to it again and again. Just like the Visionaire series when it was first out, people around me are all going “oooh….must try, backed by research.” I asked them recently are they still using it? Almost all of them said no, they didn’t see the results they expected to have with the product. Hmmm….

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I love ANR too :) Swear by it in fact. While undergoing a lot of stress recently, it was the only thing that was keeping my skin sane so I didn’t break out or have my skin go crazy as I thought it might. I think science and R&D in skincare is great but when it’s over-exaggerated as in this case, it’s just too suspicious. Visionnaire broke me out too! LOL No luck at all with Lancome skincare. The only product I liked that was really good was the Primordiale night cream that’s been discontinued so I haven’t been able to use anything from the brand since.

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Rae // theNotice
Twitter:
July 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Uh oh!! I wonder if this will have any impact on the Clinique serum that just came out — it claims to target skin concerns based on what your skin tells the serum it needs, which is six levels of crazy.

Oh, beauty companies. Can’t live with ‘em; can’t leave ‘em around impressionable children.
Rae // theNotice recently blogged…Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara review, swatches, photos | For a pretty, pool-ready lashMy Profile

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Wynnce July 8, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Is it the one named Smart Custom Repair Serum? It gains great reviews on Paulaschoice.com >_<

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Rae // theNotice
Twitter:
July 8, 2014 at 4:17 pm

That’s the one! :)

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I’ve read the claims of the Clinique serum and yes, it is sort of crazy isn’t it? I won’t be trying it out because I’ve been told that I probably won’t see much, if any results, if I’ve got my skin at a level that makes me happy LOL So I’m happy not to give it a go. But the reviews look promising. I suppose, at least Clinique doesn’t claim to wreak havoc on our DNA or something as drastic LOL

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Lana July 8, 2014 at 5:49 pm

oh my! this is an eye opener. I don’t use anti-aging products yet, so I can’t comment anything about their efficacy, but I feel that L’Oreal has done something unethical. They’ve cheated their consumers by false claims.
Lana recently blogged…A summer must have: NYX Single Eye Shadow in Kiwi (Review, Swatch, EOTD and Where to Buy)My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:09 pm

I feel the same way too Lana! They probably felt like they needed to up the game, hence their ludicrous claims but it might just have backfired, now they’ve been called out on it!

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emmabovary July 8, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Fascinating to see them pulled up over this – I was actually thinking about that Clinique serum the other day and how crazy their claims are. I don’t actually know much about this Lancôme one but I feel bad for customers it has misled!

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I think it’s great they were hauled over the coals, Emma! Not that they’ve learned their lesson of course haha! But yes, that Clinique one is another one that’s gaining a lot of attention. I won’t be giving it a go though the idea of a skincare that can actually target skin concerns seems almost sci-fi!

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Shasha July 8, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Glad you mentioned this particular topic today Paris. I’ve been seeing an influx of brands claiming the heavens with their products, and its so frustrating and misleading.

For people in the know like you and the rest of the beauty lovers out there, we are less inclined to purchase a product for its amazing scientific claims, and are probably more skeptical of a product that claims so.

But for regular people looking for a new serum or moisturizer, who’s to tell them what’s what? Glad FTC finally took some form action :) Hoping this happens to more brands actually. Vive le expose LOL!
Shasha recently blogged…Review: Egyptian Magic CreamMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Viva le expose indeed! :D The thing I noticed though, is that the FTC ruling would only really have effect in the USA where they have jurisdiction. Here, they don’t so I still see the same/similar claims going on here. Yes, I kept an eye out for the ads here and I’m still seeing “gene-activating” in the ad copy, so that bugs me that L’Oreal/Lancome feels they can go on and mislead the rest of the world :(

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Peiqing July 8, 2014 at 8:36 pm

W O W …. now, lemme return to my medical texts. KayThaxBai…

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Haha :D And I’d have loved to see gene-activation being used for medical cures vs cosmetics! :D

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Sunny
Twitter:
July 8, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Hey Paris, thanks for sharing this! I have a bottle of the new Genefique, but I haven’t tried it yet. I am ALWAYS skeptical of marketing speak, and the whole gene thing is pretty obviously over the top. Like you said, if that were true, I’m sure it’d have medical applications first. I don’t think anyone should stop using it because of this though. If it works, it works!
Sunny recently blogged…Kenzo Flower in the Air Eau de ToiletteMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Hiya Sunny! It’ll be interesting to see what you think of Genifique, as a serum of course, not as a gene-activating product haha :D I was horribly sceptical of them so I’m glad they were forced into admitting that it’s all just marketing. Still, despite being misleading, I know of people who love it and as you said, if it works, it works, regardless of advertising.

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Emy Shin July 9, 2014 at 2:19 am

I believe all skincare marketing claims are exaggerations to certain degrees. Most do have scientific claims to back them up, but even those are suspect. For example, a serum with niacinamide might proclaim that it fades hyperpigmentations based purely on previous existing research on niacinamide without rigorous testing of that particular serum (which might not fade anything at all because the percentage isn’t high enough).

But to make baseless claims like this is hideously misleading and awful of these companies. It’s why I never listen to marketing claims but rather read product reviews instead (which are subjective, but more likely to be honest).

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

All valid points, Emy :) I think most brands push their limits as far as it’ll go. After all, these claims will help sell their products! I’m a little more careful these days reading product reviews because a lot of the time, people aren’t willing to be negative about a sponsored product. So I take reviews with a pinch of salt as well ;) This is more so because locally, this very item is being pushed out for review to many local bloggers so I can just imagine the influx of positive reviews! :D For myself, I prefer to sample to make up my own mind but I’d rather not have my genes activated, thank you LOL!

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gio July 9, 2014 at 2:25 am

Frankly, I was surprised they had managed to get away with these misleading claims for so long. Anything that claims to activate your genes would be considered a drug, not a cosmetic, and would have had to undergo much more rigorous testing before being put on the market. That’s because messing with your genes could be very dangerous and potentially lead to mutations and even tumours! I doubt Genefique could really do that, but anyway I steer well clear of any products that makes claims like this. Even though they’re not true, they’re too misleading, and I want nothing to do with them.
gio recently blogged…4 Tips For Bright & Glossy Summer LipsMy Profile

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Erin July 12, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Isn’t that the truth! A product like that would be a drug, and a scientific breakthrough or documented detriment. If someone came up with a real “Fountain of Youth,” we’d be hearing Nobel Prize nominations and global frenzy!

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Apparently investigations started a few years ago, but they’ve just thrown in their towel this year. That’s how long they’ve dragged this out. For all we know, they might just discontinue the line after this, and launch a new one with the same product but under a different name so avoid this negative effect. Who knows eh? I too think ludicrous claims about genes and gene activation are better served in the medical area where they could do some good to cure diseases, rather than merely make a person look younger. Like you, this puts me off not only the product, but the brand.

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Evan Chang
Twitter:
July 9, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Serves them right for misleading customer all the time! Been disliking Loreal more and more lately. They\’ve become too complacent and take consumers for granted.Finally some good news
Evan Chang recently blogged…Tip Tuesday: Cracked or Shattered Eyeshadow? NO PROBLEM!My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm

haha my sentiments exactly, Evan! :D I won’t say I dislike L’Oreala per se, but I can safely say I’m treating all their new skincare products with large doses of salt and scepticism. Happily, my skin doesn’t seem to like most L’Oreal/Lancome skincare so I’m quite safe to avoid them for now ;)

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Firn July 10, 2014 at 11:27 am

I am honestly not surprised. The main ingredients are some yeast ferment (sounds like SKII’s, which has SOME benefits from the high amounts of niacinamide in it), glycerin (a humectant, which will attract water to the skin thus plumping it up) and alcohol + dimethicone (solvent + velvety texture; dimethicone is the same stuff you’d find in any good primer). I’d say most of the purported benefits of this serum come from the plumping that the last 3 ingredients will give you. And these are found in lots of other drugstore products.

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Yes I do notice a high alcohol content in this serum as with their Visionnaire serum. The product probably isn’t bad on its own, but coupled with its crazy claims, perhaps it’s just time to stay away :P

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Joy July 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm

i bought the genifique hd for men for my boyfriend. while i’m not noticing huge differences, i have noticed that he’s has significant less cystic acne breakouts this year. the ones that he does get seem less angry looking and he’s healing faster with less hyper pigmentation after. at time of purchase, i simply translated gene activation to aid in cell renewal.
Joy recently blogged…Foreo Issa: A Silicone Electronic Toothbrush!My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
July 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm

That’s great to know that it works for your boyfriend Joy :) I didn’t even know they did one just for men! LOL I think as a product, it probably isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that the marketing and hype made it out to be more miraculous than it actually is hence the slap on the wrist :)

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