ASA slams Clarins over anti-pollution spray

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ASA slams Clarins over anti-pollution spray

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has slammed cosmetics company Clarins for claiming that its new Expertise 3P (Poly Pollution Protection) spray could protect people against pollution, including electromagnetic waves.

The ad stated: 'If electromagnetic waves can penetrate walls, imagine what they can do to your skin. Today, electromagnetic waves generated by a host of modern day electronic devices join a list of well-known pollutants which can damage skin.'

It went on to say that Expertise 3P is a 'new youth and beauty routine to help protect the skin against all kinds of modern pollution and, for the first time in cosmetics, it also protects against artificial electromagnetic waves generated by domestic communications equipment'.

Clarins said that the claims were based on the results of an in-vitro test of artificial electromagnetic waves, which revealed that only a few hours of exposure was enough to note an increase in free radicals, a slow down in cellular renewal and modification of the skin's natural barrier.

The ads sparked six complaints which challenged whether Clarins could substantiate the claim that these electromagnetic waves could damage or age skin.

The complaints also questioned whether the product could provide the implied anti-ageing and pro-health efficacy claims, and suggested that the ads could cause undue fear and panic in readers regarding electromagnetic radiation.

Clarins asserted that it had been studying invisible pollution in the skin's environment for many years, and had submitted scientific studies on the influence of electromagnetic waves on skin cells.

The company also argued that it had not claimed that man-made electromagnetic waves were harmful, but had merely identified an effect on the metabolism of the epidermis cells.

The scientist advising the ASA pointed out that the tests had all been carried out in vitro, not in vivo (i.e. on skins cells in a Petri dish and not live skin).

He said that he would expect evidence for products such as Expertise 3P to have been carried out in vivo, because in vitro trials are imperfect as models of human skin.

The expert went on to say that the test parameters of many of the studies were questionable in their relevance to exposure to radiation.

As a result there was no evidence that, when applied in vivo, the product gave any anti-ageing or other benefits.

He concluded that the studies sent by Clarins were not robust enough to substantiate the implied anti-ageing and pro-health claims made for the product.

The ASA upheld all complaints against Clarins, and told the company not to state that electromagnetic waves generated by modern-day devices or domestic communications equipment could damage or age skin.

Clarins was also told not to imply anti-ageing and pro-health efficacy claims for Expertise 3P unless it held robust scientific evidence to support the claims.

The company was told not to make an undue appeal to consumer fears of the harm that could be caused by man-made electromagnetic waves.

However, a recent study by Imperial College London showed that electrical fields can increase the risk of infection by charging the human respiratory tract, making it more likely that pollutants and bacteria would lodge in the tract.
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