That makeup ad is probably lying to you

Posted 30 May 2016

This article was posted to Time Magazine in July 2015, but still have relevance.

New study reveals how many ads for cosmetics are inaccurate or false

Only 18% of all claims made in commercials for cosmetics are generally trustworthy, according to new research released Monday.

Cosmetics firms often use advertising verbiage like “clinically proven” or “inspired by groundbreaking DNA research.” But researchers combed through these claims and found that the majority were vague and many are outright lies, according to a new study published in the Journal of Global Fashion Marketing.

The researchers assessed 289 cosmetic ads, including ads for products like make-up, skincare and fragrance, featured in magazines like Vogue and Marie Claire. They then separated the various claims into different categories, including environmental claims, endorsement claims and scientific claims. The researchers rated them as “acceptable,” “vague,” “omission” or “outright lie.”

The study authors conclude that claims of “well-being and happiness” are usually not substantiated. “Those who back the claims with scientific evidence and consumer testing often use questionable methodologies for their substantiation,” the authors wrote.


Deception in cosmetics advertising: Examining cosmetics advertising claims in fashion magazine ads

DOI: 10.1080/20932685.2015.1032319

Jie G. Fowler, Timothy H. Reisenwitz & Les Carlson

Journal of Global Fashion Marketing: Bridging Fashion and Marketing
Volume 6, Issue 3, 2015 pages 194-206


The FDA has only focused upon the physical safety of cosmetics and has ignored the significant reasonability of advertising claims. As such, the present article is intended to examine/ascertain the extent to which cosmetics claims contain deceptive content in fashion ads. Through a content analysis, the study reported herein revealed that cosmetics claims were not evenly distributed. To that end, the preponderance of the claims appeared to be described primarily by three categories (scientific, performance and subjective). The results also showed that more cosmetics claims were classified as deceptive than were deemed as acceptable. Close examination of these trends revealed that, for instance, most superiority claims were categorized as false, whereas scientific claims tended to be classified as vague or as omitting important information. Furthermore, performance claims were likely to be viewed as vague and endorsement claims were seen to be acceptable. The study concludes with practical and public policy suggestions that need to be addressed by advertisers and the FDA.
The article continues here.


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