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L'Oreal settles with FTC over anti-aging ads the feds called deceptive

L'Oreal touted that its Génifique products were "clinically proven" to "boost genes' activity"

Cosmetics company L’Oréal USA Inc. agreed Monday to settle Federal Trade Commission charges of deceptive advertising for some of its anti-aging products. 

According to the FTC’s complaint, L’Oréal made false and unsubstantiated claims that its Génifique and Youth Code products provided anti-aging benefits by targeting users’ genes.

“It would be nice if cosmetics could alter our genes and turn back time,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau. “But L’Oreal couldn’t support these claims.”

In a slew of national advertising campaigns across radio, TV, magazines, Twitter and Facebook, L'Oreal touted that its Génifique products were “clinically proven” to “boost genes’ activity and stimulate the production of youth proteins that would cause “visibly younger skin in just 7 days,” and would provide results to specific percentages of users for $132 per container.

In Spanish and English ads, the Paris-based company also claimed its Youth Code product was the “new era of skincare: gene science,” and that the product's technology was inspired by "the science of genes." 

Youth Code has been on the market since 2010, and costs up to $25 per container. 

Under the settlement, the FTC said the popular cosmetics company is prohibited from claiming that any Lancome or L’Oreal Paris branded facial skin-care product targets or boosts the activity of genes to make skin look younger, unless the company has “competent and reliable scientific evidence” backing the claims. 

L'Oreal said the advertising campaigns "were discontinued some time ago."

"The company constantly refreshes its advertising," said Kristina Schake, the company's chief communications officer. "The safety, quality and effectiveness of the company's products were never in question."

In 2012, U.S. regulators told L'Oréal that its claims about several pricey anti-wrinkle products had gone too far, and said sales could be halted if the company didn't tone them down.

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