The UK has the toughest regulations on advertising claims and the ASA has enforced them rigorously in recent years, catching a number of leading beauty companies unawares.
Most recently the regulator caused a controversy when it reprimanded Procter & Gamble (P&G) for its Olay Regenerist TV ads.
The regulator said scientific evidence for the anti-ageing power of pentapeptides was insufficient to justify the claim that they reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
Cosmetics consultant Chris Gummer said the ASA was guilty of over interpreting the Cosmetics Directive and over protecting the consumer.
“Women can look after themselves and understand the claims that are being made,” said Gummer. “They are not being materially misled.”
While Gummer was critical of the regulators, he said cosmetic companies are not free from blame.
The consultant said that amid some high quality scientific data too many claims rely on science that “doesn’t really cut the mustard”.
Gummer called for better quality data and in particular more studies outside the confines of the laboratory.
“In-vivo studies (on living organisms) are the place to be. In vitro (outside living organisms) only says something possibly will work or might work. It gives you a guide to take the next big expensive step to the in vivo trial.
He said that ultimately: “You’ve got to get it onto people in good controlled trials to show that it is really delivering what it promises.”