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Woman sues over anti-ageing claims

18-Jan-2005

In the US a woman lawyer is suing two cosmetic companies, including global leader Estee Lauder, over what is said to be false advertising claims relating to anti-ageing products marketed by the company.

Debra Scheufler, from San Diego, California, claims that the products that she spent an estimated $1,000 did not reverse or even halt visible signs of ageing on her face, a number of US newspaper reports have said.

"These products that tout themselves as anti-ageing products really target women of my era and suck us into the belief that the clock can actually be turned back, when in fact, it cannot be turned back," Scheufler said in an interview with NBC.

 

Filed at the end of December, the lawsuit names Estee Lauder's La Mer anti-ageing skin care range, which includes a premium moisturiser, an under eye baume, a body lotion and a hand cream.

 

Scheufler said that her physical signs of ageing were not reversed, and that this was contrary to the 'miracle' cures made by a number of leading cosmetic companies.

 

Scheufler's lawyer, Howard Rubenstein, said that the lawsuit also filed charges against a Californian company called Epicore, which provides spa and cosmetic treatments, together with retailers Nordstrum and Neiman Marcus, which sold products carrying the allegedly false marketing claims.

 

The lawsuit wants the cosmetic companies and the retailers to stop using marketing terms that suggest the products will help to fight back or reverse signs of skin ageing. It also seeks compensation for the $1,000 spent on the products.

 

However, proving that there is a strong case in the US law courts could prove particularly difficult. The US Food and Drug Authority tests cosmetics for safety and not for their effectiveness.

 

The FDA's regulations state that cosmetic products cannot make claims that products contain medicinal properties against diseases, however, they are allowed to make certain claims about certain changes to physical appearance.

 

Currently the global market for skin care products is valued at over $38 billion (€29bn), of which nearly $7 billion is related to anti-ageing products. What is most striking is the rate of growth for this segment, which at a current annual growth rate of over 11 per cent is one of the highest in the industry.

 

Ultimately the very size of the market for these products and the continuing pressures the baby boomer generation face in trying to fight physical signs of ageing mean that Scheufler's action is unlikely to have a significant impact on the industry as a whole.

 

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