LONDON (Reuters) - An advertising watchdog has told cosmetics giant Avon to remove an ad for a face cream which claimed it was an "alternative to surgery".
Thermafirm skin cream, which was promoted as the "new wave in face lifts", could be applied at home, resulting in "tighter, firmer, more lifted skin in just three days," the advert said.
It was accompanied by "before" and "after" diagrams and the observation that a thermal face lift was too expensive.
But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the catalogue advert breached the rules on health and beauty products.
The advert claimed that the combination of "triple sonic technology" and "ultrasonic stressed yeast" represented an "exclusive technological skincare" breakthrough.
"Natural extracts are fused to help tighten the connections between the skin's layers," it said.
But a complainant questioned the efficacy of the product as well as the advert's implication that the product's effect was comparable to, and as permanent, as surgical procedures.
After taking independent expert advice, the ASA judged that the product's efficacy had not been proven beyond that of a moisturiser.
"In particular, we understood that the evidence did not show the product could 'lift' skin," it said.
The ASA also upheld the complaint that readers would expect an alternative option to a face lift to have about equivalent results.
The ASA said: "Because we had not seen satisfactory evidence for those effects, we concluded that the claims were misleading."
It also upheld the complaint that the diagrams suggested a physiological change that was not supported.
Avon had said the claims were the result of an eight-week study on 152 women and that the data had been analysed by an independent statistician.
It also said it had not implied parity between Thermafirm and a thermal face lift nor that the results of Thermafirm were permanent. The diagrams had been used to illustrate how Thermafirm could have a tightening effect.