Published: 13 May 2022  (Updated: 27 May 2022)

ASA Ruling on Misleading Claims and Substantiation

On 11 May 2022, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a ruling against a social media advertisement for a hair care product with claims surrounding hair growth and thicker hair.

Companies are reminded that all cosmetic claims must be substantiated, according to Article 20 of the EU Cosmetics Regulation and the Common Criteria Regulation.  Key points in relation to this ruling are:

  • when compiling a body of evidence to substantiate claims, companies should assess which studies are relevant to the claims being made. Studies should have reliable and scientifically valid methodologies.  The studies should be well-designed, well-executed and accurately reported so that the results are robust and reproducible;
  • the panel of participants should be large enough to demonstrate the proposed effect. Statistical principles apply to cosmetic claims and their substantiation.  When deciding the number of panellists for a study, there is no ‘right number’, this needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis;
  • studies conducted on volunteers should respect ethical rules. Such studies should be carried out on a justifiable number of volunteers that are representative of the population at which the product is targeted (e.g. if the product is intended to be used by all genders, the panel must have a significant representation of the target genders);
  • the results of the study should be statistically and physiologically significant.
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