Julia Roberts Makeup Ads Banned in UK for Too Much Photoshop

Advertising Standards Authority, the ad industry watchdog in the UK, has banned an advertisement by Lancome featuring Julia Roberts for being misleading, stating that the flawless skin seen in the photo was too good to be true. Parliament member Jo Swinson first brought the ads to the authority’s attention, and later told the BBC:

This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching. Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality.

This comes about a month after the American Medical Association called upon ad agencies to stop the “altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image”.

(via NYDailyNews)

Thanks for sending in the tip, Harry!

Image credit: Photographs by David Shankbone and Lancome

  • Christoph

    Why not just paint the commercial? Same result and they can’t complain about photoshop.

  • Christoph

    Why not just paint the commercial? Same result and they can’t complain about photoshop.

  • Anon

    Why not just be honest?

  • Anon

    Why not just be honest?

  • Alex Duran

    all mag covers are touched up


    What’s up with UK?

    First, “Photographers @ Public Places”. Now, “Photo Touchings 4 Public Stuff”

  • Henning Nilsen

    Because that would reveal that the makeup is shit and no one would buy it?

  • Eric Waring

    to be fair the ad claimed that the make-up “recreates the aura of perfect skin” so touching up would enhance that effect making the advert misleading as potential purchasers could expect the same effect… definitely NOT the same as just touching up to make someone look better which opens a whole new can of worms ;-)

  • Eric Waring

    ps – I totally disagree with the mp, Jo Swinson’s comment as it does not demonstrate what she suggests – it just demonstrates that they don’t allow misleading adverts!

  • Salz

    Maybe they should use this ad for our fave Adobe product.
    I prefer shopped images in ads. There’s more than enough (more or less ugly) normality out there in real life.

  • Salz

    Maybe they should use this ad for our fave Adobe product.
    I prefer shopped images in ads. There’s more than enough (more or less ugly) normality out there in real life.

  • Christina

    dear Salz I agree with you that there is a certain amount of ugliness out there… but porcelain like, flawless skin is not real for a woman her age and I think the real beauty is her real look and that should not be extremely modified, not even in a make-up ad :)

  • Dhgatsby

    would love to see the original RAW file before, and this “after” pic.

  • Dhgatsby

    would love to see the original RAW file before, and this “after” pic.

  • James Schipper

    She looks far better in the picture on the left, anyway. Why’d they round out her jawline like that?

  • flalala

    Might be processed a touch over the top, but just about, might as well ban ever fashion image! They should ban good lighting as well. 

  • Wing Wong

    Truth in advertising… I wonder if people can sue if the makeup they buy can’t make them look as good as the models/actresses/etc who have been photoshop’d in the ads?  There should be a disclaimer indicating:

    “””The advertised “look” was achieved through the use of professional makeup artists, who may or may not have used the actual product in question, professional lighting, flattering lens effects, and photoshop post processing to create the illusion of beauty, which while implied as being credited to our product, is in no means an indication of what you can actually achieve with our product. YMMV.”””

    There… that should cover it. All good.

  • Jostein Roalkvam

    Maybe they should hire a better retoucher, that one is just horrrrrribly done, can’t believe that such amateurs get the “big jobs”

  • makeupLuv

    Should of done it.

  • Sebastián Soto

    I can hardly see Julia Roberts in the right pic.

  • Cooksfriend

    Why not give a free PS cd with each product sold?? Then their ad could read ” Now you can look just like Julia.”

  • Guido Castello

    It`s not going to be very realistic!

  • Guido Castello

    Want to live in fantasy world?

  • Guido Castello

    Probably looks better than this aberration.

  • Laurentiu

    her lips, nose and one eye are crooked : )

  • Taimane Scanlan

    Banned? Really? Entertainment is about perception. These companies don’t hire these people because they want them to look like me and you, they’re trying to sell the dream. Do we really want a picture of the real, every day Julia Roberts? Or the movie star?

  • GuarionexSandoval

    “This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching. Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality.”

    Just as government functionaries portraying themselves as the guardians of the public don’t reflect reality. These poor morons in regulatory agencies and government who have nothing better in life to do than to try to prevent the public from getting fooled by make-up companies. Idiots: if you’re trying to prevent the dimwitted in the public from having unreasonable expectations of what a skin care product can do to enhance their looks, then BAN ANYONE WHO IS REPUTED TO LOOK GOOD from such advertisements because at least 97% of the population is way, WAY to the left on the Bell Curve of Beauty. How about banning excessive stupidity and nannying in the seat of government power? That would help the public more than almost anything else.

  • Lizzeh

    Well you could sue for false advertising as long as your claim is that the product did not meet your expectations. That would be dumb though, as Lancome is not as expensive as a lawyer and the dishonesty did not ever actually hurt you, therefore it would be thrown out by a judge most likely.

  • Nikola Milasevic

    Photoshoping her is like photoshoping Mona Lisa-a blasphemy. Julia the prettiest!:-)

  • Minimally edited

    Actually, anyone who has seen julia roberts all dressed up knows she does look this flawless when shes been prepared for say, a red carpet event. I don’t think this add is mis-leading at all. They have her face angled so that her skin is pulled tighter, and the light hits in a way that any wrinkles or dis-coloration are camoflauged. I say bravo Julia, Bravo photographer, and bravo lancome for having such a classic ad.

  • GREGalicious

    Who cares. Its ALL false advertising anyway. Whether it be photoshop or makeup, NOBODY is going to look as beautiful as Julia Roberts except JULIA ROBERTS. And makeup itself doesnt look the same on everybody anyway.

  • Craig Macdonald

    Isn’t using make-up in the first place kinda like a realtime version of photoshop? Also If anyone is stupid enough to still believe that advertising photos of beauty products are realistic, serves them right if they spend too much on a basically ineffective product.

  • Cydney

    Actually, the weirdest part of the touched-up photo is the fact that they enlarged her eyes…they’re kind of out of proportion. Gollum?

  • sweetirishleo7

    I dont think this photo has been altered that much. I mean Julia Roberts has ALWAYS had gorgeous skin. And when you put makeup on and do your hair, you can look really good. It is possible people!

  • mmmm

    gg posting full ad… free ad… they gonna make more now…

  • val escobar

    I am assuming you are clueless about the battle between mag’s portrayal of women vs a young girls self-esteem, correct?

  • GuarionexSandoval

    “I am assuming you are clueless about the battle between mag’s portrayal of women vs a young girls self-esteem, correct?”

    Thanks for illustrating my point so clearly.
    Those who arrogate to themselves the role of guardian of the public virtue
    usually appeal, such as you have done, to a presumed assent to their
    characterization of a relationship (“the battle”) between two matters
    (“mag’s portrayal of women” and “young girl’s self-esteem”), neither of which
    is defined with sufficient specificity to mean anything at all and both of
    which are reifications designed to be used as Punch and Judy dolls, to
    reinforce the belief, never directly proposed in order to avoid a direct
    challenge, that their unvoiced characterizations of the situation are beyond
    And here are at least some of the characterizations: 1. A young girl’s self-esteem is
    necessarily the product of external factors that necessarily influence what she
    believes about what she desires to become, how she desires to act, and how she
    desires to appear. 2. There are sets of characteristics of healthy self-esteem
    that exist for different classes of people, in this case “young girls,” but
    also British versus American, 21st century versus 19th
    century, black versus white versus Pakistani, Christian versus Muslim versus
    modern pagan, pre-pubescent versus pubescent versus young adult, that can be
    objectively identified. 3. The self-esteem of any person in this class can be
    evaluated and be demonstrated to be nearer or farther from perfect embodiment
    of the set of characteristics for healthy self-esteem for that particular group. 4. The specific causes
    that move any individual of that class toward or away from the perfect
    embodiment of that set of characteristics can objectively identified. 5. The specific causes (such as “mag’s
    portrayal of women”) can be adjusted by legally sanctioned means to move “young
    girls” toward healthy self-esteem or away from poor self-esteem. 6. The vastly
    different degrees to which any group of individuals, in this case “young girls”
    matches or fails to match the set of characteristics can be accommodated by the
    imposition of relatively simple directives to the specific causes, such as
    determining what a magazine can publish or how an product can advertise or what
    a school can teach or what parents can say or do to impact their “young girls”
    either toward healthy self-esteem or away from poor self-esteem. 7. A
    relatively small number of people, including, of course, the self-appointed
    guardian of public virtue, is capable of evaluating all aspects of society, including
    all members of the specific class and their relationships to all members of all
    other classes and all those relationships in the context of all other aspects of
    society, in terms of their degree of adherence to proper procedures for the
    formation of healthy self-esteem. 8. Any degree of difficulty encountered in
    getting the masses to exemplify the proposed self-esteem and to engage in the behaviors
    previously determined–through objective means, of course—necessarily to result
    in that self-esteem can be overcome with the imposition of sufficient oversight
    and sufficient force. 9. That oversight, that force, and the definition of healthy
    self-esteem are all to be placed in the hands of those who are worthy of it. 10. Those who are worthy of it are those who are not “clueless about the battle
    between mag’s portrayal of women vs a young girls self-esteem.”

    note how I actually had to think about all this and take time to set it all
    out, whereas you were content in response to toss off something that doesn’t even rise above the level of slogan. If
    you are that intellectually lazy, how would you ever think you or other
    guardians of the public virtue would have the ability to put into practice
    anything that didn’t end up being like every other attempt in history to retrofit society to the guardian’s idea of paradise and become horribly oppressive?

  • Maralago

    She doesn’t look remotely like that in person. And if you geniuses can’t understand why this ad is wrong, I’ll use small words to explain it to you. If a product says it can do something, but in showing what it purports to do, the advertiser uses something other than the product to achieve the effect said advertiser claims the product, and only the prduct can do, THAT is false advertising. And flat out lying. The. Oron who said “Isn’t makeup just photoshopping” is an idiot. A person wearing makeup may seem like photoshop to you but unless she sells you a product based on how good the makeup makes her look, i.e., “This facial makes your skin look this good” when in fact her makeup is making her skin look that good, you are not being sold a false bill of goods. It’s astounding how so many idiots are commenting on this & saying the Ad Council is overreacting. No wonder the 1% rules the world – much of the 99% is too busy sucking up their BS to even czre about being screwed with product fakery.

  • Emily Anibal

    Awww, she’s beautiful without the touchups. Advertising is stupid.

  • Doc Pixel

    I’ll agree with the fact that this particular ad with Julia is certainly over the top and they could have pulled back this whole retouch by say 50% and still have a great ad. Banning it though because of “false advertising” is down-right stupid. I would venture to say that more than 50% of all ads in any media at any given time, are stretching the limits of “truthfulness”, and/or are downright lies.

    Also surprised that no one has mentioned that “retouching photos” is nothing new, and is a practice approaching 100 years in use.

    I googled the following on Google Images: “hurrell lighting”. Regardless of the “vaseline-trick” and/or star filters popular in the day, almost every published studio portrait was retouched. I’ve actually been lucky to have seen many of the negatives in person to verify this.

    Also, “an irony” to be sure: Google Images -> Queen Elizabeth 1950’s. A striking woman truthfully, but also succumbed to the retouchers brush on many occasion.

    Regardless, the fact that the art of retouching is practiced by millions of PS users, but mastered by few, is evident everywhere we look. Blame the democratization of technology. Heck… blame Steve Jobs, Apple and Adobe if it makes ya feel better. However, putting the genie back in the bottle (DMG or exe here) is never going to work or happen… and censorship for the abuse of the genie’s powers is also not warranted. And certainly not for the flimsy excuse of “truthfulness in advertising”, where traditionally and if your doing your job right as an ad manager, is ALWAYS going to be walking a very fine line of “truth” to sell their product. Which by the way they are very well paid by us as consumers, to do.

    If someone thinks for a moment that they are going to morph into Julia Roberts after a few dabs of over-expensive foundation… I think they have other issues besides “lack of esteem”. However, Julia might be a source of inspiration if you research her struggles, trials and tribulations to get where she is… and try to stay there. It goes far beyond the make-up, lighting styles, and retoucher talents, that I can say!

    Sorry the rant… just my 2 cents.

  • Nick Thompson

    Surely Jo Swinson as a member of Parliament, has better and more important things to worry about. I’m paying her wages. I don’t give a toss what the advertising industry does, but I care about the immigration issue. Far more important.

  • akshayjamwal

    Yuck. That’s a terrible retouching job.

  • Julie Dodgshon

    I was just seeing if anyone else thought the Julia Roberts TV Lancome add was dorky. It looks like a bad Kubrik movie mixed with Sprokets mixed with a chunk of Disney (Cinderella meets Pinochio). And yes Julia has that White Diamonds look. Haha you got to love the UK for taking the time to legislate airbrushing…where have you been all our lives…it’s fab!