Britain's Advertising Standards Authority has banned two ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington for misleading consumers by being overly airbrushed. It had to come to its conclusion without before-and-after shots, since apparently Roberts has stipulated in her contract that no unairbrushed shots can be released.
Instead, L'Oreal, parent company to Lancome and Maybelline, provided red carpet shots of the women. Sample line from the ASA assessment of L'Oreal's defense: they "believed the image used was consistent with the public perception of the model Christy Turlington who was a beautiful woman with a naturally fantastic complexion." They also said you could still see crows' feet.
A similar argument was made on Roberts' behalf; in turn, the ASA "acknowledged that Julia Roberts was an actress well known for her beauty, and that professional styling and make-up were used to create the image. We understood that high quality studio photography, and the inherent covering and smoothing nature of the product also contributed to the image of flawless skin." (Roberts was shot by Mario Testino).
Still, both ads were considered misleading. On the Roberts ad, the ASA wrote, "On the basis of the evidence we had received we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post production techniques."
The complaints were first raised by MP Jo Swinson, who has crusaded against advertising aimed at women for manufacturing insecurities based on retouched images. She was the one who complained that L'Oreal refused to give "before" shots, though this isn't explicitly noted in the report. According to The Guardian, Swinson referred to "shocking" contractual agreements with Roberts that prevented the release of unretouched images: "It shows just how ridiculous things have become when there is such fear over an unairbrushed photo that even the advertising regulator isn't permitted to see it."