The most recent cosmetic advertising and labeling guidelines are from 2006, which makes them of special interest to me, as from 2006-2010 I was involved in the cosmetics industry as a makeup artist and salesperson. I thought it might be interesting to see what actual rules the companies I worked with were supposed to be following.

 I was halfway down the page before I first wandered into the bathroom to pull out products with labeling that violated standards. With no problem at all I found two examples, leading me to look online and find that even if I only look at one company’s Canadian website, I can find violations of almost every section of the code that they have products covered by. This ranges from cellulite creams claiming to actually reduce measurements to anti-aging products claiming to “de-activate” aging.

 I’ve known for years that the cosmetics industry often leaned towards the wrong side of the line of what was and was not acceptable to tell consumers could be achieved using certain products, but I was startled to find out how often the line of what it is and is not legal to claim seems to be entirely ignored. When I look at the size of the industry and the sheer number of products involved, it’s not completely surprising, especially considering how many consumers would rather convince themselves that they saw an improvement than admit that the results they want to achieve are not possible short of surgery.

The advertising guidelines themselves seem clear for the most part, with interesting portions where wording must be made slightly ambiguous in order to be acceptable, such as saying a product “plumps lips” being acceptable, but saying it “increases lip size” being unacceptable. I’d have to do further research to find out why mentioning fluoride or cavity prevention on a toothpaste is not allowed, but off the top of my head I can’t think of any fluoridated toothpaste that doesn’t violate those rules, and likewise antiseptic mouthwashes. If these guidelines are what companies advertising and selling in Canada are supposed to follow in order to protect consumers and help them make more educated buying decisions, it seems to me that they aren’t doing their job.