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Ban on excessively retouched ads sends a powerful message to advertisers – Swinson

July 27, 2011


Two heavily airbrushed foundation adverts by Maybelline and Lancôme have been banned following a complaint by Jo Swinson MP, Campaign for Body Confidence co-founder.

 The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today ruled that the advertisements for foundation products by Maybelline and Lancôme, owned by cosmetics giant L’Oréal, breached industry codes.

The regulator said it did not have enough evidence to prove that the images accurately represented what the foundations could achieve, and the ads – featuring extensive digital retouching to the skin of actress Julia Roberts and model Christy Turlington – were deemed likely to mislead.

Jo Swinson said:

“This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching. Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality. With one in four people feeling depressed about their body, it’s time to consider how these idealised images are distorting our idea of beauty.

 “Shockingly, even the ASA weren’t contractually allowed to see the pre-production photo of Julia Roberts.  It shows just how ridiculous things have become when there is such fear over an unairbrushed photo that even the advertising regulator isn’t permitted to see it.  Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don’t need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality.”

For more information on the ASA’s decision, visit

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Stefanie Michaels permalink
    July 27, 2011 2:09 pm

    About a couple of years ago I complained to the ASA about obviously airbrushed ‘images’ of the actress Keeley Hawes in a series of adverts for Boots No 7. Their reply was to say in their opinion no advertising standards had been breached. If you compare these airbrushed photos ot Ms Hawes to those, for example, on her website, you can see the difference. Well done for getting this campaign off the ground and giving cosmetics companies less ground to making us women even more paranoid about ageing!

  2. July 27, 2011 3:22 pm

    this is Stefano Buonamici, an Italian photographer based in Barcelona, Spain.
    I personally don’t like to use Photoshop for retouching portraits and I want to take a stand against extreme Photoshop retouching in advertisements and on the covers of magazines.

    Today’s unrealistic idea of what beauty is means that young girls are under even more pressure now than they were a couple of years ago. Airbrushing means that adverts contain completely unattainable and perfect images that no one can live up to in real life. We need to help protect our younger generations from these pressures and we need to make a start by banning airbrushing in adverts aimed at them. I also come from a school of thought that finds beauty in real things. I think imperfection is beautiful.

  3. July 27, 2011 3:44 pm

    So happy about this, a great step in the right direction


  1. Realistic Retouching on Women is What You Want. | Better Wear A Hat! The Portfolio of Edward Flynn, Digital Artist, Graphic Designer and Web Designer
  2. Make-up Ads Banned in the U.K. for Excessive Airbrushing | Blue by Executive Music Co.

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