a) Depilatory Creams
Hair removing creams are unlikely to remove hair down to the root; they can remove hair down to the skin only. Marketers should not state or imply (by, for example, using illustrations) that surface regrowth will be slower unless they hold convincing evidence that it will.
Conventional needle electrolysis can remove hair permanently but not painlessly (Conair Group Ltd, 28 May 2003). Tweezer electrolysis can, after a reasonable number of treatments remove around 40% of hairs permanently. Again, the treatment is not painless. Neither the ASA nor CAP has accepted that ‘patch’ electrolysis has been proven to remove hair permanently (Babyliss, 6 November 2002).
c) Epilight and Lasers
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given clearance for some devices to claim permanent hair reduction but not permanent hair removal. Although some devices can permanently reduce the total number of hairs, they will not permanently remove them all (Euphotonics Ltd, 21 July 2004; NL Epilation Clinic, 9 June 2004; Michael Jane, 20 February 2002; The Cosmetic Clinic, 6 February 2002, and Aculight (UK) Ltd, 21 November 2001). Marketers making claims for permanent hair removal should hold evidence to support their claims (rules 3.7 and 12.1) and those claiming permanent hair reduction should hold either convincing evidence, FDA clearance, or be able to show that their device is substantially the same as those cleared by the FDA (NL Epilation Clinic, 9 June 2004).
The efficacy of laser treatments can vary according to skin type or colour and hair type and colour. Marketers should avoid giving the impression that laser hair reduction will be effective for all consumers (Michael Jane, 20 February 2002, and Depilex Health and Beauty Studios, 14 February 2001). They should also avoid the implication that it can be used for skin types for which it will not be effective (Diane Matthews Clinic 21 June 2004). The ASA did not uphold a complaint about an ad which stated, “Prevent hair growth with Philips Lumea…works to prevent the re-appearance of hair…applied every two to four weeks …” because the evidence showed that when used at regular two-to four-week intervals the product prevented the majority of hairs from growing back in the areas treated. The ASA considered that the ad was unlikely to mislead because the claims was supported and because the ad made clear that the product would only work when used regularly (Philips Electronics UK Ltd, 16 March 2011)
Although it has accepted a safety claim made about a laser for acne treatment the ASA has not accepted the evidence for other lasers. The ASA has upheld complaints against marketers for failing to prove claims that their laser treatments are “painless” (NL Epilation Clinic, 9 June 2004; Depilex Health and Beauty Studios, 14 February 2001; Aculight (UK) Ltd, 21 November 2001; Skin Sense, October 2000, and Dr Mark Hudson-Peacock, February 1999).
In 2010 a complaint about an ad for the SOPRANO XL which stated, “pain free” was upheld because the studies held by the advertiser showed that there was some pain associated with the treatment. This advertiser also claimed that the treatment was “suitable for all skin and hair types” which was found to be the case (National Slimming & Cosmetics Clinics, 10 November 2010).
Marketers should make clear in their advertising copy whether the treatment they are offering is laser hair removal or intense pulsed light (IPL) (Sisa Beauty Clinic, 10 October 2012).
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA.
CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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