P&G’s Hair Removal Device Ad Banned by British ASA

An advertisement by P&G promoting its hair removal device Braun Silk-expert IPL has been banned by the British watchdog Advertising Standards Authority due to a misleading claim for permanent visible hair removal.

An advertisement by P&G promoting its hair removal device Braun Silk-expert IPL (intense pulsed light) has been banned by British watchdog Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) due to a misleading claim for permanent visible hair removal.

The advertisement claimed, “permanent visible hair removal” and “visible hair removal that’s here to stay.” The ASA determined that viewers would interpret these statements, especially the terms “permanent” and “removal that’s here to stay,” to mean that using the product would result in long-lasting hair removal by eventually preventing any regrowth.

Procter & Gamble claimed that their IPL devices released light energy that was absorbed by the melanin pigment in hair, which heated the hair follicles and halted the hair regrowth cycle. They acknowledged that there was no established industry standard in the UK for determining permanency in hair removal but referred to the dictionary definition of “permanent” as meaning “enduring for a long time or indefinitely.”

Braun clarified that their product was also marketed in the United States, where it was classified as a medical device and subject to rigorous testing standards. As a result, they adhered to the definition of permanent hair reduction set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Braun provided data from a clinical study that they claimed supported their assertion of permanent hair removal according to the definition set by the FDA. They argued that the inclusion of the word “visible” made it clear to consumers that the claim pertained only to hair on the surface of the skin.

They clarified that no light-based method, whether used at home or in a salon, could remove hair permanently since it only interrupted the hair regrowth cycle, and hair would eventually grow back due to hormonal changes and other factors. They also noted that their money-back guarantee demonstrated their confidence in customer satisfaction.

ASA said: “We acknowledged that Braun intended, by including the word “visible”, for the claim to mean that only the visible hairs above the skin’s surface would be permanently removed, and to highlight that repeated applications would be needed on an ongoing basis to capture hairs in that active phase of their growth cycle,”

“However, we considered that consumers were likely to interpret the claim to mean that hair removal would be permanent and visible (meaning the effect would be noticeable), rather than permanent only about the visible hairs above the skin’s surface. Because the claim “permanent visible hair removal” was likely to be interpreted to mean that after a number of repeated applications, consumers would achieve long-lasting hair removal by eventually stopping all hair regrowth in the treatment area, and the evidence provided did not show that was the case, we concluded that it had not been substantiated and was misleading.” ASA added.

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