BBB National Programs Archive

ERSP Finds Murad Can Support Certain Claims For Acne Complex

New York, NY – July 12, 2011 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has determined that Murad, Inc., provided adequate support for certain performance claims made in direct-response advertising for Acne Complex, a product marketed by the company, but recommended the marketer modify certain claims.

ERSP, the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum, is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) with policy oversight by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC).

The marketer’s advertising came to ERSP’s attention through an anonymous challenge.

ERSP reviewed broadcast and online advertising for Acne Complex, and identified several claims for review, including:

  • “Clear skin is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – and it only takes four weeks!” and “Get clear in 4 weeks. Guaranteed.”
  • “See a difference in just 3 days.”
  • “There are also a number of skin conditions that resemble acne such as eczema, perioral dermatitis and folliculitis. While they may not involve all of the factors that cause real acne, they do have one thing in common — inflammation. The good news is that Murad Acne products address ALL of the factors of acne and skin breakouts,
    reducing cell build-up, excess oil and inflammation.”
  • “In a clinical study, 92% of users experienced a reduction of acne breakouts in just 3 days.”
  • “…I have used the acne product for 3 days and my face is already clear!” [Brandi, MI]
  • “After less than 1 week, my acne had disappeared and has not returned since!” [Karin Maki, MI]
  • “Acne Complex works because… it does NOT contain Benzoyl Peroxide.”

ERSP determined that the marketer provided sufficient evidence to support the claim that
“In a clinical study, 92% of users experienced a reduction of acne breakouts in just 3 days.”

However, ERSP remained concerned about the claim, “Get Clear in 4 weeks.” The marketer based its claim on two marketer-sponsored 4-week studies in which acne lesion counts were reduced, and a twelve week study referenced in the 1985 Tentative Monograph. The Food and Drug Administration, in its monograph regarding over-the-counter acne treatments, has explicitly outlined the language that may be used when referencing the efficacy of a product. ERSP noted it may not have been the intent of the FDA to permit a claim of “Get Clear” based upon a showing of reduced lesion counts after just four weeks. The FDA states, “Any treatment that continues to reduce lesion counts beyond 4 weeks is actually preventing the development of new acne.” Accordingly, ERSP recommended the marketer modify this claim to use the language found in the FDA monograph which, in part, includes the wording “clears,” “clears up,” or “helps clear.”

Regarding claims referencing other skin conditions, ERSP found that Murad had adequately modified its advertising to limit its efficacy claims to the reduction of redness and
inflammation associated with other conditions. Murad also voluntarily removed two of the related claims from its Website.

The marketer removed two of the testimonials that were the subject of the inquiry. In addition, the company included a disclosure on its testimonials page referencing testing showing that Acne Complex reduces acne lesion counts after four weeks.

ERSP remained concerned about comparative claims (i.e., “Acne Complex is the leading clinical skin care brand that is actually good for your skin” and “Acne Complex works because… it does NOT contain Benzoyl Peroxide”) that could be understood to mean that Acne Complex is more effective than products that contain benzoyl peroxide. ERSP recommended the marketer modify or discontinue such comparative claims until it can provide evidence to support each claim. However, ERSP found Murad’s comparative claims appropriate when the distinction between salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide is based purely on reduced irritation or redness.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “Murad appreciates the careful review undertaken by ERSP and agrees to seriously consider ERSP’s recommendations in all future advertising and is voluntarily making the changes recommended by ERSP and outlined in this decision. Murad supports ERSP and encourages others in the advertising industry to support the self-regulatory process.”