Opinion: On Beauty Advertisements, Zero Airbrushing and Misleading Claims

If you think your eyelashes can touch your eyebrows just from using a new mascara, think again. Read the small print on some of the ads saying that lash inserts were used.

For all the people who look up to these beautiful images seen in magazine ads and on larger than life billboards across America, I can tell you first hand that lighting and retouching play a very large part in creating these images. I have witnessed great makeup artists do incredible work right in front of me yet I know from my background that the model’s inner eyes, body and background images will all be retouched before it goes to print. What I would see in front up me was not “perfect” as nothing in life is and a small amount of retouching could certainly help the ad to look aesthetically more pleasing. I think retouching is an art and distorting reality is not.

Make Up For Ever First Unretouched Advertisement

Zero Airbrushing: Make Up For Ever’s First Unretouched Ad debuted in March, 2011

I remember when Make Up For Ever launched its HD Advertising campaign as the “First Unretouched Make Up Ad.” I thought it was executed well and was proud of the line that I have been using for the past ten years for doing this among a lot of ads that look as they were digitally manipulated beyond realism. Even better is their www.hd.-not-retouched.com site where you can view the ads up close and personal.

Maybelline Ad Banned by UK Advertising Standards Authority

Lancome Banned Advertisement for Airbrushing

With that being said, L’Oreal’s Maybelline and Lancôme ads were recently banned by the Advertising Standards Authority(ASA) in the UK. The ASA ruled that both ads breached the advertising standard codes for exaggeration and being misleading. I do understand their point yet I believe they might have to pull nearly every ad that are being printed. Do we really think flawless skin can come with using solely one product? That years of sun damage would disappear with a single stroke of a brush? If we were to see what images looked like without any retouching, I am uncertain if we’d really want to buy the products. I know part of my mind lives in a fantasy world where I think I can actually look like the images in the ads I see. The other part knows it makes for a good picture.

Rimmel Banned Advertisement Georgia Jaggert False Eyelashes

Rimmel’s mascara advertisement featuring model Georgia May Jagger was banned in November, 2010. The brand has had more than one hiccup with advertising false lashes.

What I believe we need is a healthy balance between advertisers and retouchers (i.e.: Adobe Photoshop for many). We need retouchers that “tweak” images and not recreate them. There has got to be a better balance between the two world of digital vs. reality.

What are your thoughts on beauty advertisements and airbrushing? Which advertisements do you like and which do you find exaggerated? Leave your comments below.

Nicole Gordon Levine

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