BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Dermatology Industry Discontinue Sun Protection Claims for the Companies’ Dietary Supplement Products

New York, NY – Nov. 27, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended Dermatology Industry maker of its UVO dietary supplement product discontinue certain advertising claims made by the company promising consumers that its product provides multiple skin protection benefits against the damaging rays of the sun. NAD, however, did find that Dermatology Industry could make certain limited, more carefully tailored claims about its UVO product.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

NAD’s decision cautions that claims a dietary supplement can prevent sunburn, reduce early skin aging caused by the sun, or protect from other harmful effects of the sun are health-related claims that should be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.  As the FDA expressed in May 2018, when it when it issued warning letters to dietary supplement makers claiming to protect consumers from the harmful effects of sun exposure, such claims may give consumers a false sense of security about the level of sun protection provided by such supplements.

NAD carefully examines such health-related claims to ensure that they are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Generally, NAD noted, such evidence consists of human clinical trials that are methodologically sound and statistically significant to the 95% confidence level with results that translate into meaningful benefits for consumers that relate directly to the performance attributes promised by advertising.  Only in this way, NAD stated, can advertisers avoid misleading consumers into believing that such products offer a greater skin protection benefit against harmful sun and environmental exposure than is actually the case.

The advertising claims made by Dermatology Industry for its UVO Dietary Supplement product included:

  • “UVO utilizes many powerful vitamins and phytonutrients which have been scientifically proven to increase the amount of time it takes for skin to burn when exposed to both UVA and UVB rays”
  • “Three Primary Functions:
    • Before for Sun Protection (approx. 3-5 hours of supplemental sun protection.
    • After Sun for Repair (Helps accelerate recovery and soothe the skin)
    • Daily to beautify (helps repair damaged skin, provide anti-aging beauty).”
  • “Repair” skin
  • “UVO contains ingredients which have been scientifically proven to help benefit skin from the inside out,”
  • “Dermatologist Developed”
  • “Formulated by a Board Certified Dermatologist”
  • “UVO is the first drinkable supplement to provide sun protection and repair benefits.
  • The formula is based on scientific research that proves the effectiveness of individual ingredients to provide protection from the effects of the sun….”
  • “UVO contains powerful ingredients to protect and repair the skin from sun damage as well as help with anti-aging;”

NAD determined that the net impression of Dermatology Industry’s advertising was that UVO was effective as sunscreen. NAD then evaluated the advertiser’s evidence to determine whether a reasonable basis existed for its claims.  In support of its “sun protection” claims, the advertiser provided two small human clinical trials on its product demonstrating only a very slight sun protection benefit. Consequently, NAD recommended that these claims be discontinued. However, NAD stated, the evidence allowed for more limited, carefully tailored claims about the small sun protection offered by UVO when taken in conjunction with applying sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and seeking shade.

NAD also reviewed the antioxidant ingredient studies submitted by the advertiser as support for its beauty, soothing, and anti-aging performance claims. NAD found that none of these studies supported these claims for the UVO Dietary Supplement product for several reasons including that abstracts were submitted or the studies were in vitro or animal studies. As for the human clinical trials provided by Dermatology Industry, NAD noted that the populations studied was not representative of UVO’s target audience or was otherwise not consumer relevant. Consequently, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its broad, unqualified sun protection claims

NAD stated, however, that nothing in its decision prevents Dermatology Industry from making accurate and carefully qualified tailored claims that there is emerging evidence that UVO may offer small sun protection benefits, specifically the delaying skin reddening, when used in conjunction with sunscreen lotion, finding shade, and wearing protective clothing.  NAD cautioned the advertiser that these qualifications should appear every time a sun protection claim is made, including on labels, packets, website, print, and social media.  NAD also cautioned Dermatology Industry that, because there was no evidence in the record that its UVO supplements protect against UVA rays, it should be careful to avoid making express or implied claims that UVO provides broad spectrum protection.

NAD further noted that its findings do not preclude the advertiser from making truthful, narrowly tailored, qualified claims regarding the antioxidant activity of the ingredients in UVO.

NAD further concluded that the advertiser had provided evidence sufficient to support its “Dermatologist Developed” and “Formulated by a Board Certified Dermatologist” claims. However, NAD determined that the evidence was insufficient to support the dermatologist testimonial contained in its advertisements touting OVU’s ability to protect and repair the skin from sun damage as well as help with anti-aging and recommended the testimonial be discontinued.

In its advertiser’s statement Dermatology Industry stated that although it strenuously disagreed with certain conclusions by NAD, it will comply with NAD’s recommendations.  The advertiser, however, was pleased with NAD’s determinations that that that it had provided a reasonable basis for its “Dermatologist Developed” and “Formulated by a Board Certified Dermatology” claims, and that it could make “accurate and carefully qualified claims” about the emerging evidence of certain benefits that UVO may offer “when used in conjunction with more traditional sun productive measures such as sunscreen, protective clothing, and taking advantage of shade” as well as truthful, narrowly tailored and qualified claims regarding the antioxidant activity of ingredients in UVO.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.