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Lancome Sued Over 24-Hour Makeup

Major cosmetics companies have recently been hit with false advertising lawsuits alleging that they misled customers about testing on animals and marketed skincare products in a way that made them sound like drugs approved by the FDA. Now, there are reports of a new suit against cosmetics giant Lancome involving claims of a more, well, cosmetic sort.

The New York Post and ABC News report that Rorie Weisberg, an Orthodox Jewish woman in New York, is suing Lancome and its parent company, L'Oreal, over its advertising for its Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation, which promises "24 hours of longwear, 24 hours of comfort." Weisberg "abides by Jewish law by not applying makeup from sundown on Friday until nighttime on Saturday," according to court papers. She bought the $45 product on Lancome's website, specifically looking for a long-wearing foundation that would last through the Sabbath for her son's bar mitzvah celebration.

Lancome's website advertises that the foundation is the result of "8 years of research," and touts its "new EternalSoft technology" which "defeats all challenges." But Weisberg contends that it did not live up to the challenge of overnight wear. Instead of providing "lasting perfection," Weisberg found that the foundation "faded significantly" overnight, according to the suit. She seeks unspecified damages, as well as a "corrective advertising campaign" by Lancome. The company has said that the suit has "no merit" and that it will “strenuously contest these allegations in court."

Putting aside the mystery of the "EternalSoft technology," claims such as Weisberg's -- including that the Lancome foundation left her skin "cakey" and shiny -- would seem to be more difficult to prove than ones involving animal testing or allegedly bogus scientific marketing. Might the "perfection" part of "lasting perfection" be in the eye of the beholder? Other lawsuits against cosmetic companies have touched on the advertising claims -- and images -- that promise flawless beauty in an age of Photoshop and airbrushing.

According to a New Jersey Law Journal article on lawsuits against L'Oreal over the marketing of its anti-wrinkle creams -- now consolidated in federal court in Newark, N.J. -- the plaintiffs' claims include allegations "that Lancome ads use airbrushed or 'Photoshopped' images of celebrities and models, which do not reflect the true effectiveness of its products," and the complaint includes a comparison of a Lancome ad featuring actress Kate Winslet and a photo of Winslet from People magazine. Guess which one showed the actress's crow's feet?

The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, an advertising trade group, has called for a ban on modified photos in cosmetics ads, the New Jersey Law Journal says. And in 2011, a British advertising watchdog group banned two ads for L'Oreal foundation featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, finding they were more of a showcase for the magic of Photoshop than the effectiveness of the makeup.

Though Weisberg's case is unique due to the religious aspect of her complaint (which Jennifer Lipman in The Independent posits is the real reason the case has garnered so much attention), cosmetic companies' heavy reliance on post-production photo techniques, along with their usual sweeping promises about perfect beauty through makeup, might just lead to more legal trouble.

Posted by Laurel Newby on May 6, 2013 at 04:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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