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The Federal Trade Commission has reached a proposed settlement with L'Oreal USA requiring the beauty giant to stop running ads that claim that some Lancome and L'Oreal Paris products "target the genes" of users.
"It would be nice if cosmetics could alter our genes and turn back time," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. "But L'Oreal couldn't support these claims."
L'Oreal USA Chief Communications Officer Kristina Schake said in a statement that the company already had stopped running ads with the claims in question, "as the company constantly refreshes its advertising."
She added that: "The safety, quality and effectiveness of the company's products were never in question. Going forward, L'Oreal USA will continue to serve its customers through industry-leading research, scientific innovation and responsible advertising as it has for the last 60 years."
Ms. Schake was communications director for First Lady Michelle Obama prior to joining L'Oreal last year.
The ads were for Lancome Genifique products starting in 2009 and L'Oreal Paris Youth Code products starting in November 2010 and running up to April 2013, according to an FTC complaint.
Ads claimed Genifique products were "clinically proven" to "boost genes' activity and stimulate the production of youth proteins" that would cause "visibly younger skin in just seven days." Youth Code ads promised a "new generation of skincare: gene science," the FTC said.
The Lancome products sold for as much at $132 per container, while L'Oreal Youth Code sold for up to $25, according to the FTC.