US Moves Toward Banning Photoshop in Cosmetic Ad Photographs

The US is following the UK’s lead in banning advertisements for having too much digital manipulation. The National Advertising Division, a US watchdog that imposes self-regulation on the ad industry, has banned a CoverGirl mascara ad by Procter & Gamble because Photoshop was used to make the girl’s eyelashes thicker than they were in real life. Even though the enhancement was disclosed in the ad itself, NAD wasn’t satisfied, saying,

You can’t use a photograph to demonstrate how a cosmetic will look after it is applied to a woman’s face and then – in the mice type – have a disclosure that says ‘okay, not really.’

The NAD says that it’s following the lead of its sister body in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority. Back in June, ASA banned a makeup ad featuring Julia Roberts for being too manipulated.

(via Business Insider)

  • Don Giannatti

    following the lead of its sister body in the UK…”
    Oh hell yeah… let’s follow the lead of one of most terribly failed democracy in the world… great idea.

    I have no problem with the watchdog group doing that, but I certainly don’t want another government department with badges and guns and flash-bang’rs running around looking for eeeeeevil photoshoppers.

    They don’t have anything else to do?

    The girl isn’t that thin, homes don’t have that much fill light, the dead grass is fixed in brochures… WTF? 

    Morons abound. And they all get hired by the government.

  • Anonymous

    Sure…and cosmetic ads were never retouched before Photoshop?

  • Anonymous

    And you’d be the first to run to a Govt’. agency if somebody sold you something that didn’t work as it did in the ad. Wouldn’t you? 

  • Iam12whatsthat

    Also, buying certain products won’t actually get you laid.  True story.

  • Anonymous

    Why do the lashes have to be digitally augmented?  If the product is any good, shouldn’t it do that job by itself?  Or, isn’t there a special stage formulation they can mix?

  • Mushmatt

    Failed democracy? In what way exactly?

  • Paul Kelly

    Faking a cover to just make someone look good is fine if you’re into that sort of thing, but faking what a product is SUPPOSED to be doing for real simply isn’t on.

  • Jennifer White

    Exactly, Paul Kelly. If they’d ‘enhanced’ her nose or lips or something else, it wouldn’t be an issue, but they’re faking the results of the product they’re advertising – that’s a whole different issue than over-slimming or otherwise digitally altering models.

  • Iam12whatsthat

    You guys do realize that all advertising is a lie right?

    Since when did photography itself have any inherent truth?  Trick question!  It never did!

    You may be shocked to realize that they pin clothing in ALL catalogs to make it fit better too!  Outrageous!

    We should all call up LL Bean right now and demand they stop!

    My flannel lined trousers don’t fit like that model!

  • Anonymous

    I think models with a huge zit on their forehead might be quite trendy

  • Gerardino0951

    I think what the attempt here is to get back to restoring photographic work of this type to what was once just pure photographic talent. We’ve seem some distance in this effort for some time. Why read all this noise into such a worthy effort of professionalism?

  • Gerardino0951

    How does “government” get into the subject and most important why?
    Most photographers ignore “government” opinions and interruptions anyway. Lighten up…enjoy your work…stop acting like congress!


    dam so i bought all that Axe body spray for nothing? :(


    I think the ASA is run by a bunch of bitter ugly folk even photoshop can do nothing for. haha

  • Cass Roads

    Just because “advertising is a lie” doesn’t mean there can be no standards.  Pinning clothes?  Anyone can halter clothes once bought so they fit better, but it’s a bit more difficult to alter makeup so it works as advertised.

  • Cass Roads

    “Photoshop disasters” anyone?  Banning excessive photoshop might take a little humor out of life…

  • Addie

    If you are buying a cosmetic due to what it says on the ad and the image of the model using it, they should be required to show it as is, no fakery involved!  If its for mascara, I dont care if they removed an age line from her forhead but i DO want to see what my lashes will look like with this stuff on them. If they promise ‘thicker, fuller, longer lashes’, then the product should do that.

  • Kathleen

    Thanks for the laugh. I haven’t found anyone too ugly for photoshop to fix yet. :) 

  • Charles

    I think in this day and age most people know that retouching is a way of life in beauty/cosmetic photography.  If you went on the street and asked 100 women if their wrinkles will magically disappear after using a particular cosmetic you’ll find the number is very low.  I don’t think anyone believes that they’re going to look like an over Photoshopped Julia Roberts after using a beauty product.  That being said, vanity and hope drives cosmetic purchases and there’s a sucker born every minute.  The FTC has guidelines on the books and advertisers routinely push the boundaries of those guidelines. Go into a McDonald’s and order that Big Mac they have pictured on the overhead menu. Open the wrapping and compair what you got with what you saw and well you know exactly what I’m saying.  And the fact is everyone expects it.  No one thinks they’re going to get that beautiful meal they see in the photo on the wall.  Our expectations have been lowered and most people know that what you see in a photograph isn’t necessarily what you’re going to get.  So when you see an age reducing wrinkle cream ad that shows a model with smooth, ageless skin, somewhere in the back of your mind your admiring the quality of the Photoshop work.  Oh, and by the way, the model they used for the wrinkle cream ad is 23 years old and has never been outside without SPF 45.

  • Di

    Oh hell yeah… let’s follow the lead of one of most terribly failed democracy in the world… great idea. ”

    First of all, just because a country has a government that doesn’t exactly work doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can’t learn from it.  Don’t be mean.

    And second of all, there is a very good reason for doing this in my opinion.  Making women this thin, this perfect looking and flawless is not natural.  It gives girls unrealistic expectations and may lead to lowered self-esteem and possibly eating disorders in order to mimic what they see in the ads.  Also it’s just false advertising to say the products do so much.  

  • Iam12whatsthat


    i find it much easier to thicken my mascara than hem my pants.

    my point is that all media is inherently dishonest and this NAD move is simply a token gesture.

    another example: NPR edits their interviews to clean up filler language and make people sound more educated.  journalistically, NPR is regarded as having rather high standards, so why do they perpetuate the same myth as Covergirl?

    what about all of the articles newspapers don’t publish? you would assume it would be criminal not to call attention to worldwide massacres and famine, but it happens routinely.  where are the standards?  and this isn’t even advertising this is the “truth!”

    i’ll have a large popcorn with butter and a DIET coke.

  • Iam12whatsthat

    it’s pretty funny that you mentioned McDonalds, as the fast food industry is actually much more honest in their advertising than many others.

    they use their real product in the shots.  they just make up for it with volume and time.  hundreds of buns will be delivered to set so that the perfect one can be found; lettuce, tomatoes, onions, as well.

    and obviously the food stylist puts a lot more time and effort into crafting the sandwich than your average McDonald’s worker.  but it is possible!  :)

  • Iam12whatsthat

    The photographic talent of yesterday was the same deception that photoshop enables today.  Lighting and retouching have been used to hide flaws for quite some time now.
    JP Morgan’s nose would be a fun early example.

  • USoundLikeUR12

    Wow. If you know that little about how food is shot for major campaigns, please do not speak about it as if you were the authority. 

    And this: 

    “Since when did photography itself have any inherent truth?  Trick question!  It never did!”

    Seriously? Perhaps you’ve not heard of photojournalism? Documentary photography? Or other application of photography where photography cuts through the noise to clarify the truth that could not be told otherwise?

    And the crowning jewel:

    what about all of the articles newspapers don’t publish? you would assume it would be criminal not to call attention to worldwide massacres and famine, but it happens routinely. ”

    Routinely, “worldwide massacres” and famine (is that world-wide as well?) are purposefully left on the editing room floor by “newspapers”. 

    Brilliant hyperbole. Just stunning. 

  • Iam12whatsthat

    Here is a small example of the truth of photography:

    Point of view and objectivity,  hmm.

  • Gabe Greene

    they certainly cut through the noise

  • Robert Benson


  • Robert Benson

    this is the point of the argument.  It’s false advertising to enhance the image and say the product is responsible.  as someone who retouches photos, I don’t think this is a bad idea.  If they are against fasle advertising, I am for that.  If they are standing in the way of art, that’s a different story

  • Lightofaction

    Awesome, scumbag, bureaucrats self imposing bullshit! Next stop Superman won’t be able to fly in movies, and CGI will be banned for the same reasons. 

  • Javier

    Old Spice worked… :P

  • Anonymous

    Soon we have to submit the original model to compare?

  • Stefanie Daniella

    it’s about time!!!
    digital manipulation for FICTIONAL purposes (fantasy, movies, etc) makes sense
    digital manipulation for non-fictional ‘product can do this’ purposes (attributes of product to customers) is totally misleading, tricky, and a sham (and the fine print saying it isn’t really real but faked should be replaced with actual non-manipulated images in the ‘product affecting areas’
    yes, you can still have a pretty face model cleaned up to look aesthetic, but the product affected areas (e.g. eyes, or anywhere else) gotta be untouched originals.

  • Landonpigg27

    If they start enforcing THIS, McDonalds is going to have a hell of a time getting a good shot of their “real” products.

  • Marja

    It’s about time companies get taken to task for mascara ads.

    L’Oreal has ads for mascara on TV and in print featuring Gwen Stefani, and a matching Facebook campaign.  The mascara is supposed to give you the look of false eyelashes; they want people to take the pledge to “never fake it” — meaning give up false eyelashes and just use their mascara.

    The only problem is… Stefani is obviously wearing false eyelashes.  The product will NEVER give anybody the results seen in the photos as nobody’s eyelashes grow that way.  With ads for skin care or foundation, it’s theoretically possible that with perfect skin under perfect lighting, the girl in the ad could conceivably look that way.  But the mascara ads?  False advertising.  {pun intended}

  • Marsha Traylor

    Why is it against the law to lie about drugs or foods but the cosmetic companies can advertise mascara on models wearing TWO SETS OF FALSE LASHES? I am sick of the mascara ad lies. In fact I am sick of lies in ads period.