Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Shop TJC Ltd (t/a The Jewellery Channel Ltd)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 21 September 2022
Law stated as at: 5 October 2022
In June 2022, a teleshopping presentation for a “gold LED light therapy mask” was seen on The Jewellery Channel. The mask was described by the presenter as “…those lights are going to penetrate your skin in one session, all over a balanced treatment on the skin. That is proven medically, scientifically and clinically to get rid of lines and wrinkles, to boost your blood circulation, your collagen, your elasticity, to get your skin looking firmer, tighter, toned; to reduce pore size, to reduce acne, to reduce pigmentation in your skin“.
The complainant challenged whether the claims to benefit the skin could be substantiated. The ASA upheld the complaint and found that the presentation had breached BCAP rules 3.1 (misleadingness), 3.9 (substantiation), 11.2 and 11.4 (medicines, medical devices, treatments and health).
In relation to the presentation, the ASA considered the following issues:
- Medicinal claims are for MHRA licensed products only. As the product was not licenced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as a medical device, claims such as “to boost your blood circulation” and “reduce acne” should not have been made.
- Cosmetic claims need robust substantiation. The claims “…that is proven medically, scientifically and clinically to get rid of lines and wrinkles, to boost … your collagen, your elasticity, to get your skin looking firmer, tighter, toned; to reduce pore size … to reduce pigmentation in your skin” were considered as cosmetic claims. However, there was no substantiation provided for the claims “boost…your collagen” or “reduce pigmentation in your skin”. Additionally, the product was used in conjunction with a collagen mask in the clinical trial so there wasn’t robust substantiation to ascribe all the benefits to the product alone.
- Sufficient sample size required. Only five individuals tested the product in the clinical trial. The ASA held that this was an insufficient sample size to support the claims.
- Longer-term outcomes need long-term testing. A long-term claim (“get rid of lines and wrinkles“) was made. However, the ASA found that the effects of the product were only recorded for a month and there was no information on longer-term outcomes.
Why this matters:
This ruling is an important reminder of the need for businesses to ensure that all cosmetic claims should be fully substantiated so that consumers are not mislead on the product’s benefits and abilities. Additionally, businesses should be careful to avoid making any medicinal claims for any product that has not been licensed by the MHRA.