Skincare brands ‘making fake acne claims’

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Skincare brands have been accused of making false claims about their products and acne. Supershoppers will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 8.30pm on Monday [File photo]


Skincare brands ‘making fake acne claims’: Products still promise to deal with spots despite watchdog stating they can only be treated with medication

  • Advertising watchdog last year banned adverts on products that target spots
  • The authority ruled acne is a condition that can only be treated with medication
  • But some skincare products appear to still promise to deal with spots or acne
  • Supershoppers will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 8.30pm on Monday night

Skincare brands have been accused of making false claims about their products and acne.

The Advertising Standards Authority last year banned adverts from leading brands over products that claimed to target spots.

It ruled that because acne is a medical condition that can be treated only with medication – or by topical creams bought from a pharmacist – some of their claims were misleading.

Skincare brands have been accused of making false claims about their products and acne. Supershoppers will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 8.30pm on Monday [File photo]

However products made by Kiehl’s, Origins, e.l.f and Burt’s Bees all appear to still promise to deal with spots or acne.

In two out of the three Kiehl’s shops visited by undercover reporters staff failed to give clear advice about skincare products.

E.l.f sells an ‘acne fighting spot gel with aloe’ which promises to ‘banish zits’ and help to ‘fight and prevent acne’. The Channel 4 Supershoppers investigation also highlighted a Burt’s Bees product, which costs £11.49 and claims to be a ‘targeted spot treatment’.

Origins sells a £16 ‘super spot remover treatment gel’ and a £21.50 blue herbal spot treatment from Kiehl’s promises to ‘target the appearance of blemishes’.

In two out of the three Kiehl’s shops visited by undercover reporters staff failed to give clear advice about skincare products. E.l.f sells an ‘acne fighting spot gel with aloe’ which promises to ‘banish zits’ and help to ‘fight and prevent acne’ [File photo]

Sara Ritchie, a GP and dermatologist, said: ‘The treatments we have on prescription are much stronger and if you have anything more than a few spots you should have a prescription treatment for your acne.’

She added that using the products instead of going to a doctor could result in ‘leaving your acne untreated for longer, so your acne might get worse, you might have more psychological distress from it, and in the worst case potentially permanent scarring’.

Mark Gardiner, of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: ‘The risk with presenting products in this way is it can create a false equivalency for consumers, in that they can purchase a particular product and think that is equivalent to a properly, researched, properly approved medicine.’

One Kiehl’s shop assistant told reporters a product could be used ‘on stubborn acne … on current spots, it will help prevent future breakouts’. Mr Gardiner told the programme he was not comfortable with such claims.

Kiehl’s said its claims were extensively researched and independently validated.

The Advertising Standards Authority last year banned adverts from leading brands over products that claimed to target spots. It ruled that because acne is a medical condition that can be treated only with medication – or by topical creams bought from a pharmacist – some of their claims were misleading [File photo]

The Advertising Standards Authority last year banned adverts from leading brands over products that claimed to target spots. It ruled that because acne is a medical condition that can be treated only with medication – or by topical creams bought from a pharmacist – some of their claims were misleading [File photo]

A spokesman added: ‘We provide all retail staff with training to ensure that advice and guidance given is in line with this position. Our representatives are trained to advise customers to seek the advice of a GP if they are suffering from a medical condition, including acne.

‘We will be contacting the retailer stores in question regarding the findings to ensure our position is clear, as our products are not formulated to treat medical conditions.’

E.l.f said: ‘After looking into this topic, we concluded the product image and copy on a retailer’s website had not been updated. We will also further evaluate our acne fighting spot gel with aloe to balance its key benefits of helping to reduce blemishes and redness, and improve the overall appearance of the skin.’

Origins said: ‘Claims made on the packaging are cosmetic, rather than medicinal.’

Burt’s Bees insisted its product did not make a claim regarding acne treatment.

Supershoppers will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 8.30pm on Monday.



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