The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) accepts that some cosmetic products can help to give skin a more youthful appearance (see Beauty: Creams) by temporarily reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) accept similar claims for “lip fillers”/”dermal fillers”, such as Collagen, Restylane and Perlane, that can be injected under the skin.
Unlike Collagen, which is made up of protein, Restylane and Perlane consist of Hyaluronic Acid (HA), which attracts water once injected into the skin. Through binding with water, the skin temporarily has a plumper look filling out lines and wrinkles until the molecules of HA begin to break down.
Marketers may refer to fillers as being capable of temporarily reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles but should not suggest either that treatment can cure or rejuvenate skin (rule 12.7) or that lines and wrinkles will be permanently eliminated. Unqualified claims, such as “wrinkle reduction”, are unlikely to be acceptable.
Even though dermal fillers are not generally POMs and there is no legal requirement to be over 18 years of age to be given them, marketers should still ensure that their ads are socially responsible. In 2019, the ASA investigated whether a magazine ad for fillers, which said “Is your daughter beginning to take an interest in LIP FILLERS?” was irresponsible. Because the context of the ad did not make the risks clear, presented lip fillers as “normal” for young women and teenagers and something responsible parents should support, the ad was considered irresponsible (Royal Tunbridge Wells Skin Clinic t/a/ rtwskin, 27 February 2019).
In a similar vein, in 2017 the ASA investigated whether offering lip fillers as a prize on social media was irresponsible. Whilst the advertiser stated in their response that all entrants had to be over 18 and had to meet relevant criteria before the procedure (and therefore the administration of the prize-giving had been carried out responsibly), because the ad did not make the age-limit clear in the ad, was untargeted and did not include any further information nor terms and conditions, the ad itself was considered irresponsible (What’s On Group Ltd, 5 April 2016).
Marketers who also sell Botox should note that, because it is a Prescription-Only Medicine (POM), it should not be advertised to the public, either directly or indirectly. If Botox is the only injectable they offer, marketers should not advertise “fillers” because that would be an indirect promotion of a prescription-only medicine. If they also offer Collagen, Restylane or Perlane, marketers may advertise “fillers”. Because of the legislation surrounding the advertising of POMs, marketers of both fillers and Botox/POMs are urged to read CAP guidance on Beauty and Cosmetics: Botulinum toxin products and Prescription Only Medicine.
Marketers who sell Isolagen should note that efficacy claims have yet to be accepted for the product. Marketers wishing to make any claims of efficacy are advised to ensure that they hold robust clinical evidence.
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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