BBB National Programs Archive
NARB Recommends Too Faced Cosmetics Discontinue ‘1,944% More Volume’ Claim for Better Than Sex Mascara
New York, NY – April 20, 2018 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board has recommended that Too Faced Cosmetics, LLC, discontinue the “1,944% more volume” claim – and before and after photographs – made on product packaging and online videos for the company’s Better Than Sex original and waterproof mascara.
RB is the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The claims at issue were challenged by Benefit Cosmetics, LLC, the maker of They’re Real! Mascara, before the National Advertising Division.
The advertiser argued before NAD that both its “1,944% More Volume” claim and its before and after photographs were properly substantiated.
In support of the “1,944%” claim, the advertiser provided confidential testing to NAD. NAD expressed concerns about the advertiser’s test methodology and the consumer relevance of the test methodology and results.
NAD determined that the advertiser’s “before” and “after” images reasonably conveyed a message that consumers using the product would achieve similar eyelash volume when they apply the product according to its use instructions. Without reliable evidence in the record demonstrating the volume consumers can expect to achieve when applying BTS Mascaras, NAD concluded that the performance message conveyed by the advertiser’s “before” and “after” images was not supported.
NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its “1,944% more volume” claim and recommended that the advertiser discontinue its “before” and “after” images.
NARB, in its decision, noted that the advertiser’s laboratory tests used a relatively small number of natural hair lashes. For each test, the lashes were tested using a single tube of mascara and baseline measurements of the length and width of each lash were taken with a digital micrometer. Three coats of BTS mascara were applied, and after each coat, micrometer measurements were taken of the length and width of each lash. Test results showed a statistically significant mean lash volume increase after the third coat of 1,944% for original BTS mascara and a higher percentage volume increase for waterproof BTS mascara.
One of the key issues raised in this case was whether a digital micrometer is a reliable tool for measuring something as small, and irregular in diameter, as a human eyelash. NARB, in its decision, noted that nothing in the record shows generally accepted use of micrometers to measure surfaces as small and irregular as a human eyelash.
Further, NARB noted, the record did not establish that a precisely quantified volume increase could reliably be calculated based in part on the width measurement at only one point on a human eyelash, since the human eyelash has an irregular diameter and the application of mascara does not necessarily distribute the same volume of mascara to each part of the lash.
The panel determined that the evidence in the case did not support a finding that the advertiser’s laboratory testing is consumer relevant. Further, the panel noted that it shared NAD’s concerns as to the small number of individual eyelashes subject to testing in support of the “1,944% more volume” claim. Overall, the panel found that Too Faced did not provide a reasonable basis for the claim.
The panel noted in its decision that the challenged “before” and “after” images appeared directly below the “1,944% more volume” claim on the product packaging. Based on the proximity of the images to the claim, the panel said, it found that the “before” and “after” images reasonably conveyed a message that the images demonstrated the claimed 1,944% increase in volume, a message that was not supported by the evidence in the record.
As support for the “before” and “after” images, Too Faced submitted a declaration from its President, who stated that he was “familiar” with the images on the BTS waterproof mascara packaging. Too Faced also argued that its laboratory tests and its consumer perception study – which relied on women subjectively rating aspects of BTS original mascara’s performance at home during a one-week period – supported the “before” and “after” pictures.
The NARB panel, however, noted that it was concerned that the record in this case did not sufficiently demonstrate that the “after” images on the BTS mascara packaging were not retouched or enhanced in any way. Further, the panel noted that it did not find the results of the laboratory tests to be reliable or consumer relevant. While Too Faced’s consumer perception study found that test subjects at least somewhat agreed the mascara provided dramatic volume and length, the panel found the study’s findings did not support a precise quantified volume increase or specific images that purportedly show such an increase.
The panel recommended that Too Faced discontinue claims that BTS mascara results in a 1,944% volume increase.
The panel also recommended that Too Faced discontinue the challenged “before” and “after” images on BTS mascara packaging.
Too Faced, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while the company “strongly disagrees with NARB’s conclusions, Too Faced agrees to make modifications moving forward to its packaging and advertising based upon NARB’s recommendations and will take NARB’s recommendations into account in future advertising.”
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.