No filter: ASA cracks down on influencers’ use of ‘misleading’ beauty filters in ads08/04/2021
The use of beauty filters in social media advertising could exaggerate effects of certain cosmetics products, be misleading to consumers, and therefore be a breach of advertising regulations, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled.
Retouching images pre- and post-production has been regulated by the ASA for years, and there are strict guidelines which work to reduce the exaggeration of product efficacy in cosmetics advertising. With the continued rise of social media platforms allowing users to apply beauty filters – which can alter skin tone, change facial shape and texture, or enhance features such as lashes – the ASA has had to apply these guidelines to complaints relating to the use of filters.
In 2020, two such cases were brought to the ASA in which consumers believed that the use of filters in adverts posted via Instagram stories was not an accurate representation of the results produced by the products, and so breached advertising guidelines. Skinny Tan Ltd and We are Luxe (t/a Tanologist Tan) both worked with influencers to promote their fake tan products on Instagram; however, in these instances, the influencers involved used beauty filters on their stories. Both used filters which darkened their natural skin tone, and in the case of We are Luxe added freckles and smoothed skin.
Both complaints were upheld by the ASA as the effects of the filters used were ‘directly relevant to the effects of the products’ and the brands and influencers are no longer able to run those ads.
Cosmetics brands considering using influencers as part of their advertising campaigns should ensure that both they, and the influencers in question, are aware of the ASA guidelines around ‘misleading advertising’ and ‘exaggeration’. It could be worth brands reviewing any influencer agreements in place to ensure that expectations and responsibilities are clear regarding cosmetics advertising and the use, if at all, of beauty filters.
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