FDA Warns Leading Cosmetics Maker on Anti-Aging Claims

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently (Sept. 7) warned Lancôme to stop making grand claims for several of its anti-aging products -- claims that would require the agency to approve them before the products could be sold to consumers. 

The agency's letter told the company, a division of global cosmetics maker L'Oreal, that marketing materials for its Génifique, Absolue and Rénergie lines may not promise that the products will actually remove wrinkles and restore skin density. 

Products that make these kinds of "structure/function" claims -- rather than just promising to make consumers more beautiful -- are classified as drugs and require the agency's approval before they can be sold, FDA told the company. It gave Lancôme 15 days to prepare a plan to correct the violations and describe how it will ensure that they do not occur again.

Environmental Working Group has long advocated safer cosmetics and stronger regulation of a wide range of potentially toxic consumer products. As part of that mission, EWG created user-friendly resources such as Skin Deep® and its annual Sunscreen Guide to give consumers the information they need to make better purchasing decisions. EWG will continue to monitor developments related to anti-aging products to keep consumers in the loop.

Claims about anti-aging creams increasingly blur the line between drugs and cosmetics, a problem for consumers given how differently the two product classes are regulated for safety and efficacy. If companies want to sell products that truly defy aging, they should have to prove to the FDA that their products actually live up to the hype. Unlike drugs, cosmetics do not require premarket approval by the FDA, and the agency does not assess whether they are safe or effective before. The FDA has issued multiple warning letters this year to companies making claims similar to Lancôme's, including one earlier this month to Greek Island Labs.

The Lancôme claims cited by the FDA included these:

  • Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate, Génifique Eye Youth Activating Eye Concentrate, and Génifique Cream Serum Youth Activating Cream Serum - "boosts the activity of genes and [stimulate] the production of youth proteins."

  • Génifique Repair Youth Activating Night Cream - "boosts the activity of genes."

  • Absolue Precious Cells Advanced Regenerating and Reconstructing Cream SPF 15 Sunscreen - "See significant deep wrinkle reduction in UV damaged skin, clinically proven." 

  • Rénergie Microlift Eye R.A.R.E.™ Intense Repositioning Eye Lifter - results in "Immediate lifting, lasting repositioning. Inspired by eye-lifting surgical techniques... helps recreate a younger, lifted look in the delicate eye area."

Read the FDA's full warning letter here.   

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